Table of Contents

These notes are written to help you compare the various routes that are commonly used to hike to the peaks. They are written on the assumption that you have a guidebook and a set of maps, so no directions are given to trailheads, and the trails are not described in any detail. I have omitted hikes that are substantially longer or more difficult than the standard ones, or that are simply less often used. The fact that a trail is not mentioned here does not imply that it is unsuitable.

Mountain Weather Forecast

The Recreation Report for New Hampshire and Western Maine gives a two day forecast for higher elevations (separate forecasts for elevations of 2,500 to 4,000 feet and for above 4,000 feet). There is also a point forecast for Mount Liberty.


The map below is a fully interactive Google map, you can zoom in or out and click on any feature. Specifically clicking on the P symbols will allow you to get driving directions to the trailheads.

View Liberty and Flume in a larger map

Huts and Established Trailside Campsites

The Liberty Spring campsite is located on the Liberty Spring trail [ow: 3.4 miles, 2,550 feet, 3:00] near the spring. It has 7 single and 3 double platforms but no shelter. It can be used for an easy two day trip to Mt. Liberty and Mt. Flume, or as the start (or end) of a traverse of the various inter-connected ridges (Franconia, Garfield, Bonds, Twinway).

Franconia Notch Recreational Trail (Bike Path)

The bike path (maintained by the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation) connects many of the trailheads in Franconia Notch, and is useful when making loops with only one car. The following table gives the cumulative distances (in both directions) and elevations of several locations on the path.

Distances on the Franconia Notch Recreational Trail
Location Elevation Distance
Visitor Center 1,400 0.0 8.8
Whitehouse Bridge 1,400 0.9 7.9
Basin (West) 1,520 1.8 7.0
Lafayette Place 1,770 3.5 5.3
Profile Lake 1,960 4.8 4.0
Old Man Viewing 1,960 5.5 3.3
Cannon Tramway 1,980 6.0 2.8
Echo Lake 1,940 6.6 2.2
Skookumchuck Trailhead 1,700 8.8 0.0

Routes to Peaks

Mount Liberty

Either take the Bike Path or the Whitehouse Trail to the start of the Liberty Spring Trail. Take that trail to its junction with the Franconia Ridge trail, and follow it to the summit of Mt. Liberty (rt: 8.0 miles, 3,250 feet, 5:35). The Liberty Spring Trail has a steep and rough section. A short segment of the Franconia Ridge Trail is above treeline, but most is sheltered. This trip is often combined with Mt. Flume (see discussion of loops below).

Most hikers start at the Flume parking lot. It is probably a bit shorter to take the bike path from the Basin parking lot, but hikers driving up from the south will have to return by going to the Tramway exit to reverse direction. Starting at the Basin gives more substantial savings in distance if the old logging road briefly mentioned in the White Mountain Guide is followed. While its upper end is quite clear, the lower end has no clear landmark.

Mount Flume

The classic approach is by the loop (see below) going up the Flume Slide Trail and down the Liberty Spring Trail. Since the Flume Slide trail is not recommended on the way down, most people doing it alone do a round trip by the Wilderness and Osseo trails (rt: 11.2 miles, 3,150 feet, 7:10). The grades are easy almost the whole way, the trip is less demanding than the length might suggest.

Mount Liberty and Mount Flume

The classic loop is up the Flume Slide trail, across the ridge, and down the Liberty Spring trail (lp: 9.8 miles, 3,700 feet, 6:45). The Flume Slide is steep, rocky and almost always wet and slippery, and there is a substantial elevation gain between Flume and Liberty. It is not recommended to go in the opposite direction, going down the Flume Slide trail.

There are two alternatives for those who would rather not go up the Flume Slide. Those with one car can go up Liberty Spring, across the ridge to Mt. Flume, and return the same way (rt: 10.2 miles, 4,250 feet, 7:15). With two cars a traverse going up the Osseo trail and down Liberty Spring trail is possible (lp: 10.7 miles, 3,800 feet, 7:15).

To summarize, here are the distances, elevation gains and book times of the various possible routes to Mount Liberty and Mount Flume:

Routes to Mount Liberty and Mount Flume
Route Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
Mt. Liberty by Liberty Spring 8.0 3,250 5:35
Mt. Flume by Osseo 11.2 3,150 7:10
Flume and Liberty, Flume Slide and Liberty Spring 9.8 3,700 6:45
Flume and Liberty by Osseo and Liberty Spring 10.7 3,800 7:15
Liberty and Flume by Liberty Spring, RT 10.2 4,250 7:15

Winter Routes

Mount Liberty is a fairly popular hiking destination, so the trail is likely to be broken out. Mount Flume is more of a peakbagger's destination, and so is less likely to be broken out soon after a storm.

Mt. Liberty in Winter

The only approach to Mount Liberty alone is by the Liberty Spring Trail, with the shorter winter days some hikers prefer to do the extra driving to the Basin to have a shorter hike. If the old logging road described above is broken out its lower end, which is obscure in summer, will be obvious! The final short section above the trees may well be icy, use care!

Mt. Flume in Winter

The Flume Slide Trail is definitely not recommended in winter. So most people doing Mount Flume alone do it by the Wilderness and Osseo trails. With deep snow the ladders can be completely covered with snow and hence rather difficult, while with less snow they can be dangerously icy. The final rocky climb can also be treacherously icy. It is also much less well broken out than the Franconia Ridge Trail.

Mt. Liberty and Mt. Flume in Winter

These are often done together, usually as a round trip using the Liberty Spring Trail. A traverse saves a few hundred feet of elevation gain but requires negotiating the potentially more difficult Osseo Trail. In either case the Franconia Ridge Trail may be difficult to follow in the area in the col between the two peaks.