Franconia Ridge is arguably one of the most spectacular mountain settings in the northeastern United States.  Situated in north central New Hampshire, it traverses two of New England’s most scenic and rugged peaks, Mounts Lafayette and Lincoln.  Refer to our book, Mountains for Mortals – New England, for directions to the trailhead, a precise trail description, elevation profile, map, photos and other pertinent information.  Much of the ridge is above 5,000 feet and totally exposed to the elements.  Choosing the right weather is probably the most important factor in deciding on a winter mountaineering trip on Franconia Ridge as hazardous conditions can quickly turn this magnificent hike into a nightmarish misadventure.  For our February trek, we met early at Lafayette Place parking area and ascended the previously broken Bridle Path wearing snowshoes.  After passing the AMC Greenleaf hut, we emerged above tree-line in thick clouds and moderate winds from the north with exceptionally warm temperatures in the mid 20s.  Shortly before arriving at the summit of Lafayette, we climbed above the clouds and were greeted with one of those truly exceptional and glorious mountaineering experiences – a carpet of clouds below us and 360 degree views above.  Those conditions continued unabated as we traveled across the rough-hewn ridge and over North Lincoln, Mount Lincoln and Little Haystack Peaks.  Surprisingly, there was sufficient snow pack so that crampons were unnecessary.  Descending the appropriately named Falling Waters Trail to Lafayette Place, we completed perhaps the most outstanding loop hike in New England on a glorious winter day.  Many thanks are extended to friend Ed Hawkins for organizing this exceptional adventure.  For more information on our book, visit

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