Mt. Liberty and Mt. Flume Point-to-Point

Mountains:  Mt. Liberty (4459'), Mt. Flume (4328')
Trails:  Lincoln Woods Trail, Osseo Trail, Franconia Ridge Trail, Liberty Spring Trail, Appalachian Trail, Whitehouse Trail
Region:  NH - Central East  
White Mountain National Forest, Franconia Notch State Park
Location:  Lincoln, NH
Rating:  Moderate/Difficult  
Features:  Summits, views, 4000-footers, river, brooks
Distance:  10.7 miles  
Elevation Gain:  3750 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Typical: 9:00  
Outing Duration:  Actual: 8:00   Typical: 11:00  
Season:  Summer
Hike Date:  06/28/2008 (Saturday)  
Weather:  Humid, hot, cloudy
Author:  Diane King
Companion:  Eleven SDHers

Route Summary   

This is a point-to-point hike requiring that cars be spotted at either end before beginning the trek.

The hike summits Mount Flume and Mount Liberty, both 4000-footers with excellent views. The route traverses flat sections, easy climbs, and moderate climbs; but the very steep descent brings the overall rating up to Moderate/Difficult.

  • Begin the hike at the Lincoln Woods Trailhead at the Lincoln Woods Visitor Center.
  • Cross the bridge over the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River, turn right and follow the flat Lincoln Woods Trail for 1.4 miles until reaching the junction with Osseo Trail on your left.
  • SDH on the trail (photo by Mark Malnati)
  • Leave Lincoln Woods Trail behind and turn left onto Osseo Trail.
  • Follow Osseo Trail for 4.1 miles at which point Osseo Trail ends and meets up with Flume Slide Trail on the left and Franconia Ridge Trail straight ahead.
  • Keep straight to follow Franconia Ridge Trail for 0.1 mile up to Mt. Flume's summit.
  • After enjoying the summit, continue along Franconia Ridge Trail in a northerly and then westerly direction for 1.1 miles which will bring you to the summit of Mt. Liberty.
  • Soak in Mt. Liberty's views, then keep continuing along Franconia Ridge Trail in a northerly direction for 0.3 mile which will bring you to a junction with Liberty Spring Trail on your left.
  • Leave Franconia Ridge Trail and descend to the left on Liberty Spring Trail which is very steep.
  • You will descend Liberty Spring Trail, which is part of the Appalachian Trail, for 2.9 miles until reaching its end where it will meet Whitehouse Trail. En route, you will pass by the Liberty Spring Campsite after 0.3 mile, and 2.0 miles below that, Flume Slide Trail will come in from the left.
  • Liberty Spring Trail ends at the bike path which is also Whitehouse Trail. Turn left to follow the bike path/Whitehouse Trail which parallels I-93 and Route 3.
  • After 0.2 mile Whitehouse Trail leaves the bike path on the right.
  • Continue following Whitehouse Trail for another 0.6 mile which will bring you to the parking area near the Flume Visitor Center where you should have spotted a car (or arranged for other transportation) before beginning the hike.

SDH on the trail (photo by Mark Malnati)

Place         Split
Lincoln Woods Trailhead (1160') 0.0 0.0
Jct. Lincoln Woods Trail/Osseo Trail (1300') 1.4 1.4
Mt. Flume (4328') 4.2 5.6
Mt. Liberty (4459') 1.1 6.7
Jct. Liberty Spring Trail/Whitehouse Trail (1400') 3.2 9.9
Whitehouse Trailhead (1400') 0.8 10.7
Mushrooms (photo by Mark Malnati)

Tessa (photo by Mark Malnati)

Quincy (photo by Mark Malnati)

Trail signs (photo by Mark Malnati)

Deb (photo by Mark Malnati)


Trail map of hike route to Mount Flume and Mount Liberty (map by Webmaster)

Trail Guide   

With varying forecasts for a humid day and threat of afternoon storms, eleven Seacoast Dayhikers stumbled out of bed to start this journey. We placed a car at Old Bridle Path and at Whitehouse Trail as planned. Thanks Mark and Julie for your extra early efforts in doing so.

We set out in the morning with two hike options in mind.

Option 1 was for a shorter hike to Mt. Flume and Mt. Liberty via Lincoln Woods and Osseo Trails then down Liberty Spring Trail. This hike is approximately 10 miles/6 hours and is moderate/strenuous.

Option 2 was for an even longer hike to Mt. Flume and Mt. Liberty via Lincoln Woods and Osseo Trails and then to continue on Franconia Ridge Trail to Little Haystack Mtn., Mt. Lincoln and Mt. Lafayette with the descent via Old Bridle Path. This hike is approximately 14 miles/10 hours with 5300 feet elevation gain and is more strenuous.

Although we spotted cars in three different places to accommodate the starting point and two possible end points, we all ended up doing Option 1 (as described in the Route Summary and on the trail map) since the weather wasn't clear.

Ladders (photo by Mark Malnati) Stream (photo by Mark Malnati)

Deb got caught in one of those early morning time warps and wasn't able to get to Whitehouse early. So, at Lincoln Woods she decided to spot her car there and ascend the steep Liberty Springs Trail by herself.

The remaining ten of us headed down the flat Wilderness Trail to the Osseo Trail. After a couple miles we were all feeling the humidity and were glad the sun decided not to join us. Osseo Trail got steeper mid-way and began a series of switchbacks and then stairs - must have been over 60 stairs. After the stairs, it leveled off for about another mile then got a little steeper until we hit its junction with Flume Slide Trail, 0.1 mile before Mount Flume's peak.

Julie on the trail (photo by Mark Malnati) Jim on break (photo by Mark Malnati)

To make sure no one took the wrong trail (like anyone would want to descend the Flume Slide - but, hey, any excuse for a break right?), we plunked ourselves down at the junction until everyone caught up. We discussed the longer options but all wanted to see first if the weather would clear. At Flume's peak we found the air unusually heavy, cloudy and windless.

We scurried to Mount Liberty and met up with Deb waiting for us on the cloudy Liberty summit. We also happened upon Fish and Game on a search mission. We gave them info as asked and some queried them - a fascinating but serious encounter which had an unhappy ending we later discovered.

At this point we all decided to take Liberty Spring Trail down since there were no views to be had and to save Franconia Ridge for a finer day. Mark and Mark volunteered to bring one of the cars below to collect the one at Old Bridle Path so we all had a ride right away when we got to the bottom around 3 p.m. At Lincoln Woods we had an ice cream vs. food and drink debate and wound up at Truant's Tavern patio in North Woodstock.

SDH (photo by Mark Malnati) SDH (photo by Mark Malnati) SDH (photo by Mark Malnati)


NH - Central East

  Driving Directions   

To the start point of the hike at Lincoln Woods Visitor Center: Clouds (photo by Mark Malnati)
  • From I-93, take exit 32, and head east on Rt. 112.
  • Travel for about 5 miles, then turn left into the signed Lincoln Woods parking lot.
  • This turn is just after the highway bridge crossing the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River, and is 0.3 miles after Hancock Campground which is on the right.
  • The trailhead starts to the left of the visitor's center which is straight-ahead when you drive into the parking lot.

To the end point of the hike near the Flume Visitor Center:
  • From I-93, take exit 33, and head north on Rt. 3.
  • After about 2.5 miles on Rt. 3, turn into a parking area signed for the Flume and trailhead parking.
  • Head towards the northwest corner (turn towards to the left) for Whitehouse Trailhead and bike path parking.


Bathrooms and Lincoln Woods Visitor Center in parking lot.

Other Notes   

The start point is part of the White Mountain National Forest and therefore requires a parking pass; the end point is part of Franconia Notch State Park and does not require a parking permit.

WMNF Recreational Pass

A parking permit is required to park at White Mountain National Forest trailheads and parking areas. You can purchase a WMNF permit from the forest service and other vendors and can also pay-by-the-day using self-service kiosks located in many parking areas.

For more information on parking passes please refer to the White Mountain National Forest website.

  • $5 per day
  • $30 for a year-long pass
  • $40 for a year for a household

More Mt. Liberty and Mt. Flume Trail Reports   

Trail on Mt. Flume (photo by Mark Malnati)

  Trail signs (photo by Mark Malnati)


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