Hike Mt. Liberty Via the Liberty Springs Trail in Franconia Notch, NH

8.6ish miles round trip
4-6 hours
Difficulty: Weekend Warriors; equivalent to five hours on a stair master

The tale of two seasons.

If the Old Bridle Path and Falling Waters Trail in Franconia Notch, New Hampshire, have a younger sibling, the type eager to prove it’s every bit as sweat inducing with equally dazzling views, then without question the Liberty Springs Trail is it. Almost literally in the shadows of it’s 5,000+ foot neighbors Mt. Lafayette and Mt. Lincoln, Mt. Liberty might not measure up to its bigger siblings, but it’s no slouch of a mountain either at 4,459 feet. The Liberty Springs Trail, which is also part of the Appalachian Trail, offers a challenging climb with a reward at the end well worth the effort in all seasons.

The hike begins from the parking lot found just up the road from the Flume Visitor Center. Start by taking the Whitehouse Trail for a short distance over a couple rolling hills to where it connects with the bike path. Turn left and follow the bike path (you won’t be pavement peddling for long) until you cross a bridge and come to the Liberty Springs trailhead on the right. The trail begins by gradually winding its way toward the meat of the mountain with some steady but not overly difficult climbing. At 0.6 miles in from the trailhead is the junction with the Flume Slide Trail on the right, which can be taken to turn your trek from this point on into a 7.4 mile loop.

Going up? The trail is well maintained and footing is secure on the stone staircases.

Roughly a half mile after the Flume Slide Trail split the Liberty Springs Trail crosses Spring Brook—a fairly pedestrian rock hop in most seasons, it’s possible that your boots might be getting wet in early spring or after periods of sustained rainfall. The steep bank on the far side of the brook signifies that the kiddie hike is over and the real climbing is about to begin. Take your Aleve if you’ve got ’em, because from here on out the trail sneers at any notion of switch backing, presenting a steep and continuous rock staircase climb for nearly two miles.

Being that the Liberty Springs Trail is also part of the Appalachian Trail within Franconia Notch State Park, the rock staircases and the trail in general is well maintained. The trail is a popular hike in all seasons (I met as many people on the trail on a Saturday in February as I did in September); as a result the snow was packed into a hard crust making for a relatively smooth climb. During both seasons there was a good half hour where I kept telling myself that I must be close to the Liberty Spring Campsite before I actually reached this waypoint. The campsite features several tenting platforms and a water source.

A hard packed trail makes the hiking a little easier with snowshoes in the winter.

Moving on from the campsite brings a bout of déjà vu with 0.3 miles of steep staircase climbing. The Liberty Springs Trail then ends at the intersection of the Franconia Ridge Trail. Take a right at the connection and follow the Franconia Ridge Trail 0.3 miles to the summit of Mt. Liberty. Unlike the wide open ridgewalk found on Mt. Lincoln and Mt. Lafayette, the first half of the trail on Mt. Liberty is under cover of interesting alpine tree growths. Mt. Liberty’s true identifiable birthmark, however, is the final scramble to the summit over a rock formation easily recognizable from Interstate 93.

Directions
Take I-93 in New Hampshire to Franconia Notch and take the exit for the Flume Visitor Center. The trailhead parking is 0.2 miles north of the visitor center lot. You can park in the visitor center lot, you’ll just have to start out on and walk further on the bike path.

sleep

The trail can be tiring for Sherpas and passengers alike.

ridgetrailforest

The forest along the Franconia Ridge Trail just might be my favorite part of this hike.

snowtrail

Remember the hard packed trail? All bets are off once on the Franconia Ridge Trail. The wind quickly replenishes snow drifts.

rocktop

The last push to the top.

franconianotch

The view of Franconia Notch from the summit.

franconianotchsnow

Same view, just add snow.

highfive

Look who’s awake.

facemask

Camo hat, hunter orange face mask and blue jacket…oh yeah, that’s how I roll. View of the Mt. Flume slide in the background.

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Posted in
New Hampshire, New Hampshire Trail Reviews, Trail Reviews, Weekend Warriors
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Wow! You made it all the way to the bottom. If you enjoyed this article, please check out my book, Open Season: True Stories of the Maine Warden Service on Amazon or at www.wardenstories.com. You can also follow Northeast Hikes on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as contribute to our sponsored Google+ Community.
One response to “Hike Mt. Liberty Via the Liberty Springs Trail in Franconia Notch, NH
  1. Nat Berry says:

    He Deer hunts in the same outfit !

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