Via the Lincoln Woods Trail, the Osseo Trail, and the Franconia Ridge Trail 5.6 miles one-way (3,150 elevation gain)
Mt. Flume is the southern most peak of the Franconia Ridgeline and along with the rest of that chain, frames the western boundary of the Pemigwasset Wilderness. It is also the 25th highest mountain in New Hampshire, and one of the 48, 4,000 footers. It can be accessed from the northwest by various trails in Franconia Notch State Park. Most frequented from the northwest, is the Flume Slide Trail, combined with the Franconia Ridge Trail and descending the Liberty Springs Trail this makes a challenging but popular loop that hikes over the summits of both Flume and Liberty. Flume can also be climbed by the southeast from the Osseo Trail in combination with the Lincoln Woods and the Franconia Ridge Trail. This is a long (11.2 mile) hike but for the distance relatively easy climb. This route also provides good cover for almost the entire ascent but also few views. The trails from Franconia Notch provide a more direct route to the summit, but they are also much steeper and challenging in inclement weather.
The Lincoln Woods Visitor’s Center parking area is located on the Kancamagus highway a short distance east from the town of Lincoln, New Hampshire. If coming from the east it is almost at the end of the highway. It is well-signed and easy to spot. A day use fee is required for parking or a White Mountain National Forest pass; there are facilities, trashcans and picnic areas, as well as the AMC shuttle in summer months. Once parked follow the signs for the trails, go across the porch of the visitor’s center and swing left. There is a suspension bridge over the East Branch of the river. This trail was constructed on a former railway bed that last operated in 1948 but the evidence is still there in the form of old railway ties that line sections of the trail to date. This trail is the gateway into the Pemigwasset and receives heavy day use. The easy almost flat grade makes it an ideal route for families and new hikers. The first 2.9 miles of the Lincoln Woods trail lay outside of the boundaries of the Wilderness and can also be used for biking, so be prepared to share the trail with others.
At mile 1.4 the Osseo trail junction is reached to the left, it branches off and follows a stream. It gradually climbs up, following the bank to the right and continues up an old logging road. This easy grade continues and at mile 2.1 it climbs more steeply up switchbacks to the top of the ridge. There are several wooden staircases at the top of the switchback section, but all were in good condition and provided fine footing. At the top of the staircases the trail again flattens out and winds along the crest of Franconia Ridge, where at mile 4.1 it comes to a junction with the Flume Slide Trail and the Franconia Ridge Trail.
Flume’s summit is a short .1 mile from the junction with the Flume Slide Trail but it is a bit of a climb over some very exposed rock to reach it. The views from Flume are dramatic, to the north the entire Franconia Notch area can be seen on clear days, to the east the Pemigwasset Wilderness and Mt. Bond. It is a dramatic landscape with few scrub spruces hanging on and a sheer drop off the rocks to the west.
We returned the way we ascended with little trouble with footing or route finding. The staircases could have been slippery in bad weather but we ran into no traction issues. This was a very fun and relatively easy longer mileage day hike. My dog had no difficulty with any section of any of the trails. I did leash her on the summit because I was nervous of the drop off. Water seemed adequate for the beginning section of the Osseo trail and there were some smaller streams up high, so I did not bring much extra for her. We chose this hike in late October and this route because there were very high winds over 4,000 feet. We were well sheltered the entire way up, except for the summit where it was snowing and windy. Mount Liberty is frequently done with Flume, so included are the various routes and distances for the common combination of trails used to achieve these summits. I also have to add that the book time quoted of 7:10 seems very high for the gentle grade.
|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|
Routes to Mount Liberty and Mount Flume