Mileage: 7.4ish miles (RT)
Elevation gain: 3,040'
Trailhead: The Basin parking area, Franconia Notch Parkway, Lincoln. Take I-93 N into Franconia Notch; Basin parking area is the next exit after Flume Visitor Center exit.
I'd hiked Mt. Liberty in 2009 as a traverse with Mt. Flume on the rainiest of days (see previous report). Liberty seemed like a nice peak to revisit. And besides, I just might be looking at doing the Trailwrights list, which requires each peak to be hiked individually (which means I can count Liberty or Flume from 2009 but not both so I'd have to do one of them again).
I parked at the Basin parking area (they have toilets!) and headed south on the recreation (bike) path. The Liberty Springs trailhead is about half a mile from the Basin parking area, a slightly shorter distance to the trailhead as compared to the approach from the Flume Visitor Center (many park there to access this trailhead).
Not a soul was on the path but I met several hikers at the trailhead. They were excited (as was I) to be hiking Mt. Liberty on a gorgeous day.
|Trailhead off of the recreation path (yes, this is the Appalachian Trail).|
The path starts out mellow with a few ups but the serious climb doesn't begin until the junction of the Flume Slide trail, .6 miles in.
|Flume Slide trail junction.|
Typically the trek to Mt. Liberty is paired with a visit to Mt. Flume, with those more adventurous opting to do a loop up the Flume slide and down Liberty Springs trail. The Flume Slide trail junction is muddy with evidence of bog bridge construction - it sees a lot of traffic. I continued on.
The trail steepens - a healthy "1000' per mile" steep to get the heart rate going and accelerate the feeling of ascending.
There are a few water crossings; only one required thought before picking the route across.
|Steps just after the crossing.|
The trail is in great shape and well marked. There are rock steps in some areas, blended in nicely with this wonderfully steep terrain.
The Liberty Springs Campsite is located 2.6 miles from the trailhead - no more, no less. Prior reports indicate this "feels like it takes forever" to get there.
The summit is a short .6 miles from the campsite. (Once you get here, you've done almost all the work!)
|Start of the campsite area.|
|"Staircase" just above the campsites.|
Had something to eat and drink by the caretakers tent and then headed up toward the junction of the Franconia Ridge trail.
|Junction sign - watch for zombies.|
At .3 miles the Franconia Ridge trail junction comes up quickly. Left at the junction would take me north to Mts. Haystack, Lincoln and Lafayette. Not today though, I went right.
Immediately I am in somewhat open woods with peeks of view on both sides - clearly on the ridge. This is your first glimpses of how high up you are - just over 4,000'.
|Sweet woods with glimpses of view both sides.|
After a short incline the trail rises up and onto an outcropping, where you follow the blue blazes over rocks and past drop-offs to the massif that is the summit.
|Up and out of the trees.|
|Dramatic view of the summit.|
From the summit the view of Cannon Mountain and the Kinsmans is breathtaking. (Last time I was up here wasn't like this!)
From the top I could hear motorcycles below echoing off the rocks in the Notch (it's Bike Week in NH).
The USGS summit marker is on the far tip of the rock just before the dropoff (look at the edge of the ledge!).
From here many people continue on down into the col and to Mt. Flume. But I just took a few photos and headed back down to the car.
The trail was lively by now and I met a lot of people coming up, many asking how much farther :). I got down to the recreation path and back to the Basin parking lot by 1 pm, in plenty of time to hit the outlet malls in Tilton.