Our Great Northeastern Adventure: The White Mountains - Crawford Notch State Park and Franconia Notch State Park

5:00 p.m. on July 11, 2014 (EDT)
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On June 28, Jay and I set off for what we call "the great Northeastern adventure." We first headed to Trenton, NJ, to visit with some of my family that I haven't seen in a long time. We traveled up I-95 and stopped in Philadelphia on the way for a cheesesteak from Sonny's. It was one of the best sandwiches I've ever had! This day involved about 12 hours of driving.

The next day, we drove to Newport, RI, and Cape Cod, MA. We stopped at Easton's Beach while in Newport. It was gorgeous! 

The next morning, we drove to Craigville Beach in Hyannis and laid out on the beach for about half a day. Then we headed into Boston. We stopped at Wahlburgers, in Hingham. Here, we had the best burger we've ever had! After that, we checked into the hotel in downtown Boston, and then headed over to Fenway Park to watch the Sox take on the Chicago Cubs. Fenway was incredible. It was one of our favorite parts of the trip. The Sox lost 0-2 and the game wasn't very exciting, as Jake Arrieta had the Sox in a no-no through 8 innings, but we still loved every second of it. It was definitely an experience we will never forget. I can't say I've had many days better than that one!

On Tuesday morning, we left Boston and headed to the White Mountains. We had initially planned to go dayhiking at Mt. Washington, but the weather looked questionable up there (imagine that), so we decided to drive to Crawford Notch State Park and find a day hike to do.


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At the entrance to Crawford Notch State Park, you see some of the Presidential Range with Mt. Washington right in the middle.


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We decided to hike take the three mile (round trip) hike to the 140' Arethusa Falls. Along the way, we met some hikers who recommended we take the side trail to Bemis Brook Falls. I am so glad we did. It is beautiful!


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Bemis Brook Falls
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Bemis Brook Falls is easily the most beautiful "small" waterfall that I've seen.


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After about a mile and a half, we reached the beautiful Arethusa Falls.It reminds me a lot of Rainbow Falls at South Carolina's Jones Gap State Park.


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On our drive out of CNSP, we stopped at Saco Lake for a picture. After that, we headed to Franconia Notch State Park, as the sun was setting. It was a pretty incredible drive!


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We stayed at Lafayette Place Campground that night. It is a really nice campground! By the time we got camp set up and showered, it was dark. Jay got out the grill to start cooking dinner and he heard what he thought was a large black dog coming through the woods towards us. He said "Come here, buddy! Man, you are a big boy!" then he turned on his headlamp and saw that he had just called a GIANT bear into the campsite, about 20 yards away from us! I yelled at him my usual "Get outta here, bear!" and he casually strolled off in search of someone else grilling delicious dinner, thank goodness. I was worried that he might stalk us, but he didn't. Just to be safe, we secured all our food in the car, hopped in the tent, and went straight to bed.

The next morning, started our nine mile loop hike of the Falling Waters Trail, the Franconia Ridge (on the Appalachian Trail), the Greenleaf Trail, and the Old Bridle Path.


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The Falling Waters Trail has waterfalls almost all the way up to the top of Little Haystack Mountain. It is a constant climb and is pretty rough, with large granit slabs, rocks, and roots, but it is so beautiful that it didn't really matter.


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One of several creek crossings on the trail


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 20' Stairs Falls


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60' Swiftwater Falls

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80' Cloudland Falls


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Yes, this trail seriously has THAT many waterfalls!


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We finally got to the edge of the treeline, but we still had some elevation gain to reach the summit of Little Haystack Mountain and the Franconia Ridge.


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The Franconia Ridge and Mt. Lincoln, from the summit of 4800' Little Haystack Mountain
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The first AT marker we saw


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Jay climbing up Mt. Lincoln


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Cannon Mountain from the summit of Mt. Lincoln


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Looking back on Little Haystack Mountain (I think the mountains behind it are Mt. Flume and Mt. Liberty)


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Jay and I on the summit of 5089' Mt. Lincoln

 

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Mt. Lafayette


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Jay and I on the summit of 5260' Mt. Lafayette


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The Greenleaf Hut - The "Croo" here are some of the nicest people I've ever met. I've heard that they carry massive loads of food and supplies up to the huts on tall, wooden frame packs. We actually saw one of the Croo members, Pheobe, carrying one of these loads down the Old Bridle Path and were amazed! First of all, it had to be super heavy and second of all, that trail was very diffucult and dangerous to descend carrying just a pack and water, I can not imagine carrying that huge pack up and down that dangerous trail!


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The views from inside the Greenleaf Hut were incredible!


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The dining area inside the Greenleaf Hut


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The Old Bridle Path didn't have as many nice views as the Franconia Ridge and Falling Waters, but it was still really pretty. All in all, this is one of the most beautiful hikes I've ever been on. It is rough and it has a lot of elevation gain (about 4000'), but it is all worth it!

On Thursday, we had originally planned to go back to Cape Cod to finish exploring the island (and to break up the long drive), but Hurricane Arthur came, so we decided to drive back to NJ that day. My Aunt and Uncle treated us to a wonderful dinner that night. After a good night's rest and a delicious NJ diner breakfast, we headed back home on the beautiful I-81. We saw the most beautiful vistas of the Shenandoah Mountains, and endless views of rolling hills and farmland.

This was the trip of a lifetime. We definitely want to go back one day!

 

5:26 p.m. on July 11, 2014 (EDT)
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Ah ha! I was waiting for this report. Outstanding, Ashleigh thanks for sharing!

 

...just skimmed it right now but will read with Susan, beverage in hand, later. :) 

7:10 p.m. on July 11, 2014 (EDT)
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One of my favourite areas as an outdoor lover! Check out North Conway, NH, if you are in the area again. I'd pick up and move my life there if it weren't for a little thing called 'life' (wife,work,kid,blah blah bah ;) )

Mt.washington is notoriously fickle. I once was going for a winter solo attempt and came out from the safety of huntingtons ravine to exposed wind gusts of 100mph. All the other guided teams were roping up for safety, pretty hard to rope up myself to uhhhhh myself. Had to turn around and save it for another day!

7:38 p.m. on July 11, 2014 (EDT)
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That looks fantastic! Lovely waterfalls everywhere. I still want to do Mt. Washington, its high on my list once I come back to North America.

11:52 a.m. on July 12, 2014 (EDT)
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Great pics!  Being from the west coast.. I don't get to see that part of the country!  Thanks for sharing!

5:35 p.m. on July 12, 2014 (EDT)
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Great pics and report! Sorry you didn't get your Mt Washington plan to come together.  Ranger near Conway told me Thursday the visibility was 150 miles at the summit, but you can't plan that in advance.

9:41 a.m. on July 14, 2014 (EDT)
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I'm glad you guys had a safe trip. I was stuck in two "top 10" thunderstorms that weekend in the area!

10:34 a.m. on July 14, 2014 (EDT)
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Thanks, everyone!

@Patman,

You would LOVE the Whites. They are very similar to the Smokies - but definitely worth the trip up to see them.

@Jake,

We did drive through North Conway. It is a really nice area! I could totally see living there. That is a crazy story about Mt. Washington! I am glad you bailed at 100MPH winds!  I am really sad we didn't get up there. Hopefully we will be able to make it over there one day. I still want to try the Presidential Traverse.

@LoneStranger,

If it would have been a clear day like that, I would have loved to have hiked Mt. Washington. Unfortunately, as you know, days like that are few and far between up there, especially with the summer t-storms!

@Seth,

Thanks! I hope y'all had a great trip up there, as well. Glad you survived the storms! We got caught in a pretty scary one, too.

7:11 a.m. on July 15, 2014 (EDT)
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Wow, wonderful vistas; incredible trip!

7:50 a.m. on August 3, 2014 (EDT)
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I'm glad you had nice weather for the Franconia ridge loop. When my wife and I moved to the white mountains, that was our first hike in the area. It will always be one of our favorites.


It sounds like you truly had a "great northeastern adventure." I pretty jealous of the sox-cubs game even though I'm not surprised by the outcome (its been another tough season).


I hope you get to come back up to explore the area some more.

10:33 a.m. on August 5, 2014 (EDT)
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Thanks, MPaint!

Thanks, Jim! It was definitely one of the best hikes I've ever been on.

Yeah, the Sox have had a pretty rough season. I'm still SO glad that we got to go and experience it for ourselves. I've been to several other MLB parks, but none of them are as amazing as Fenway.

We want to come back one day, for sure. It really wasn't that bad of a drive. Totally worth it!

1:19 p.m. on August 7, 2014 (EDT)
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Great pictures, Ashleigh! I'm glad you got to hit all of those wonderful spots on your trip north.

12:11 a.m. on August 8, 2014 (EDT)
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Great trip!  The general scenery reminds me of the backpacking I did in the Adirondacks in the 70s.

4:11 p.m. on August 8, 2014 (EDT)
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Thanks, Alicia! I am, as well. It was awesome! Thanks again, for the recommendation.

Thanks, John! I bet that was a lot of fun, as well!

 

4:25 p.m. on August 8, 2014 (EDT)
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Thanks for the report, Ashleigh! The Whites are a very special place to me! 

6:35 p.m. on August 8, 2014 (EDT)
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I am glad you only met a bear and not the black flies.  While they only appear for a short time, I have experienced them at Franconia Notch at the end of June.

4:45 p.m. on August 12, 2014 (EDT)
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What a cool adventure Ashleigh.  You get to travel to some amazing places. 

8:44 a.m. on August 13, 2014 (EDT)
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Very nice looking areas.  I've read an article in the past on the Hut before and the people who work there.  They do pack in quite a bit of supplies!

9:07 a.m. on August 13, 2014 (EDT)
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@DrPhun,

I absolutely met the black flies. By the time I was done with that hike I had smashed black flies all over my body. I also met the Northern New Hampshire Chiggers - 21 of them!

@Jeff,

Thanks! Over the past five years, I've realized just how amazing our country is and have made it my mission to see as much of it as I possibly can. I still have quite a bucketlist to complete, but I've gotten a pretty good start to it. You are lucky to live near such amazing destinations, too! I love seeing all of your adventures. That Rainier climb looked amazing!

@Rob,

I read about them in Backpacker a few years ago and was really intrigued. I am really glad I was able to see it all for myself. Those kids really do a ton for the AMC.

9:01 p.m. on August 15, 2014 (EDT)
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Great trip report and pix Ashleigh!  It brought back memories of my time in that area quite a while back.  And I did live in North Conway (and Conway, and Bartlett).  I worked thru my last year of high school in Conway & continued to live & work there after for a while after I graduated.

The area (and the Whites) have a unique character to them that I don't see out here in CA ... very different.  For one thing, the relatively "short" distances and "low" elevations make it seem like the hikes would be easy - but I know the rocky, and often steep, trails make them anything but :).

December 20, 2014
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