Franconia Ridge Night Hike

My last adventure in the White Mountains would take me back up to the Franconia Ridge, a super-highway of hiking. I thought it might be interesting to be on the ridge at night under a nearly full moon. After following weather forecasts and the lunar calendar, I decided to attempt this hike on July 15.

Anthony and I started up the trail at about 10pm, under partly cloudy, humid skies. Many stars were visible, so I expected a night with astounding views from above treeline.

Hiking up the Falling Waters Trail, we stopped several times to admire the many waterfalls along the path. I had a flashlight as well as a headlamp, which came in handy for finding river crossings and reading signs. The woods were quiet and very dark. The air was heavy with humidity and even though the temperatures were cool, we were both sweating.

We stopped at Shining Rock only briefly. The clouds had thickened and the moon was on the other side of the ridge, so there was nothing much to see. Before long we reached treeline and stopped for a snack on Little Haystack.

The bright moon appeared through the passing clouds now and again, providing fleeting glimpses of the surrounding mountains. We caught a nice view to the pointy peaks of Flume and Liberty, rising through the dull clouds. As we headed up the ridge, views of the Pemi unfolded, with Owl’s Head and even the Bonds somewhat visible.

It was surreal to be up here in such quiet and darkness. Of course, no other hikers were out. You’d be lucky to find solitude on this ridge in daylight. Anthony and I plodded along as the moon became engulfed in clouds and the sky closed in on us. Soon, the fog was so thick we could barely see two steps ahead of us. There would be no views for the entire length of the ridge!

After reaching Lafayette, we turned down the Greenleaf trail. I had trouble seeing, and kept turning my ankles on the rocks. Anthony went on ahead as I slowly made my way down. We began hearing the loud, spinning noises of the anemometer at the Hut and the views improved. Once on the Old Bridle Path, footing was no less tricky. I remember this route being a piece of cake! Not so easy in the dark…

I’m glad I was able to experience my first night hike before leaving the Northeast. Thanks, Anthony for coming along!

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