08 12 2015.

hiking report: little haystack, lincoln, lafayette

Our three-peak (two 4,000-footer) hiking adventure began quite early in the morning. Darren and I left Portland around 6am, hoping to reach the trailhead around 8:30-9:00. After a bit of confusion (the highway in Franconia had a series of detours that really confused us and our lack of phone GPS connection), we reached the trailhead closer to 9:00.

The trailhead was well-equipped with a bathroom right near the parking lot. (Though beware – it smelled awful.) We checked and rechecked our bags and set out.

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The trail forks less than a mile in – left is the Bridle Trail (which leads straight to Lafayette) and right is the Falling Waters Trail (which leads directly to Little Haystack). We veered right onto the Falling Waters Trail. Our goal was to tackle the steeper trail going up and to take the Bridle Trail (slightly less steep) going down, as was recommended in the AMC’s White Mountain Guide.

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Pretty soon after starting on the Falling Waters Trail, we began heading upwards – at a very rapid pace. It was a bit strenuous and would be really difficult for newer hikers, but Darren and I kept moving along steadily. One thing that was rather unusual for a hike in the White Mountains was how busy the trail was. We were alone for very little of it. We spent most of the hike either catching up to a few hikers just within sight or earshot or climbing out of range of those hikers that we passed. We were climbing alarmingly fast. We weren’t in a hurry, I think we’re both just strongest on the climb.

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The Falling Waters Trail is beautiful, though. It’s lush with areas to stop for breaks and to eat snacks while observing waterfalls and streams. We followed the Dry Brook for what felt like more than half of the ascent.

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The Falling Waters Trail gave us no indication of how much elevation we had gained. There is not a single outlook or viewpoint until you reach the summit. In some ways, this was exciting – we knew that we were in for a surprise.

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The summit was beautiful! We could see over to Lincoln and had 360 degree views. It was also a gorgeous day – relatively cool air (65 degrees) with a nice warm sun overhead.

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Once we reached the summit of Little Haystack, the hike over to the other two peaks flew by. The hike over to Lincoln felt pretty short, though it was gorgeous. We could see in all directions, and I love ridge-walking as well. It was a break compared to the hike up.

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We stopped for lunch on Lafayette and to take some photos. This summit was busy as well. There were a lot of other hikers enjoying the beautiful day. Though I’ve heard that this trail is among the most popular in the White Mountains.

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Going down the Bridle Trail was actually much tougher than I was expecting. There were a lot of areas of loose gravel that made for a tricky descent. We carefully navigated our way down at a moderate speed – taking a little bit under 2 hours. The Bridle Trail had some areas where you could look out at Franconia, but paled in comparison to the views on top of the three summits.

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Little Haystack, Lincoln and Lafayette afforded probably the best views I’ve seen yet in the White Mountains. We were lucky and had a beautiful blue day with warm weather. We could see for miles and miles around. I would recommend this hike to anyone who enjoys ridge walking as well as a bit of a challenge!


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