Date(s) Hiked: 07.08.02
Trails(s) Hiked: Flume Slide Trail, Liberty Springs Trail
Total Distance: 10 Miles
Difficulty: High
Conditions: Mostly Dry, see below
Special Required Equipment: Patience for Flume Slide



Trip Report: Been planning this loop for a while now. I felt myself in good enough shape and having enough experience to attempt it. Starting the hike, my thoughts were if the Flume Slide Trail was too challenging for me, I would turn around. Fortunately, I was up for the challenge.

Parking at Flume Visitor Center, the most mentally part of the Hike was actually getting to the Flume Slide Trail. Loth was I to hike up a bike path, up the Liberty Springs Trail, and along the flat, overgrown lower parts of the Flume Slide Trail just to avoid the Tourist Trap of Flume Gorge. The ascent to the Slide would be much more enjoyable via a straight ascent up Flume Brook, but unfortunately, that is not the case.

Flume Slide Trail until it gets to the Slide is very overgrown in places. I was forced to push through lots of branches and bush slapping my arms and legs. Occsionally muddy near the brook crossings. The forest closes in around you, very oppresive! Despite my inner grumblings while pushing through this very flat section of the trail, it was actually enjoyable in a way... having a trail left to the woods a bit. Definately a much different experience than 4 foot wide, perfectly maintained trails... and I rather enjoyed the difference!

The Slide is tough! Patience is definately the order of the day. The Slide alternates between scree and granite slabs, VERY slippery when wet. Two spots on the Slide were especially wet and I felt they were not safely passable. Fortunately, many well used side paths through the woods ascend around the Slide at tricky spots. Definately the hardest hiking path I've ever ascended; tough but highly rewarding for your effort!

Bugs began bothering me during the ascent of the Slide, so I applied DEET so as not to be distracted. Bugs were worse on the Summit. Summit views were excellent, smoke cleared as predicted around noon time. Views of the Franconia Ridge and Pemi were excellent, a haze held the rest of the horizon, but the high peaks of the Whites were still visible.

400 foot drop into col between Flume and Liberty was a piece of cake, and I had Liberty's summit before long. Up until Liberty's Summit, I had seen only 3 hikers, all on the Liberty Springs Trail near the bottom. I had the Flume Slide Trail, Flume Summit, and the Ridge to myself until meeting two hikers on Mount Liberty's treeless summit. Ahhhhh, AlpineZone! 360 degree views and a granite summit, nothing is better.

Descent was very boring and uneventful via Liberty Springs Trail. Several backpackers with full packs heading for Liberty Springs Shelter: "How much further?" They looked pretty beat up considering Liberty Springs Trail really isn't that steep and they definately were not thru-hikers so they must have only been hiking from the lot. Hope their plans were not too ambitious, they didn't look like they were enjoying it.

Great Hike!!! Definatley loved the Challenge of the Slide, and Franconia Ridge can't be beat for a Monday afternoon lunch.

Complete Trip Details and Lots O' Pictures!