The Franconia Notch region is one of the most varied, challenging regions for White Mountain hikers. It's easy to plan hikes ranging from gentle valley walks to arduous ascents of blustery granite peaks. Consult the AMC White Mountain Guide for a comprehensive directory of area hiking trails, or ask for suggestions at the information center.
Among my recommendations: A pleasant woodland detour of 2 hours or so can be found at the Basin-Cascades Trail (look for well-marked signs off I-93 about 1 1/2 miles north of the Flume gorge). A popular roadside waterfall and natural pothole, the Basin attracts crowds who come to see pillows of granite scoured smooth by glaciers and water. But relatively few visitors continue to the series of cascades beyond. Look for signs to the trail, then head off into the woods. After about .5 mile of easy hiking, you'll reach Kinsman Falls, a beautiful 20-foot cascade. Continue another .5 mile farther along to Rocky Glen, where the stream plummets through a craggy gorge.
For a more demanding hike, set off for Mount Lafayette, with its spectacular views of the western White Mountains. Hikers should be experienced, well-equipped, and in good condition. Allow 6 to 7 hours to complete this tough hike. One popular and fairly straightforward ascent begins up the Old Bridle Trail, which departs from the Lafayette Place's parking area off the parkway. The trail climbs steadily to the AMC's Greenleaf Hut (about 3 miles), with ever-expanding views along the way. From here, continue to the summit of Lafayette on the Greenleaf Trail. It's a little more than 1 mile more to the top, but this stretch covers rocky terrain and can be demanding and difficult, especially if the weather turns on you. If in doubt about conditions, ask other hikers or the AMC staff at Greenleaf Hut; there's no shame in turning back.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.