Wednesday, March 27, 2013


It promised to be a fine late winter/early spring day, with temps near 40 in the valleys and partial sunshine.  I hadn't been up Mt. Liberty in a few years, and though I'm not overly fond of the long slog up the Liberty Spring Trail, the terrific views from that open rock summit were calling.

I parked at the northbound Basin area and followed the snowmobile-packed bike path and the tramped-out "Basin bushwhack" route to the first sharp corner on the Liberty Spring Trail. This approach saves a bit of distance and elevation gain compared to the usual route via the Whitehouse Trail. Before long I was at the junction where the Flume Slide Trail branches off.

This is the only significant brook crossing on the climb of Liberty. It was still snow-bridged today.

The first 1.4 mi. of Liberty Spring Trail is mostly through open hardwoods.

After turns to the left and right, the trail begins a long, grinding climb to the ridge, gaining about 1700 ft. in 1.3 mi. On this section I met one hiker descending from an overnight at Liberty Spring Tentsite - the only other hiker I would see all day.

Snowy woods above the Liberty Spring Tentsite.

Good snow cover at the junction with Franconia Ridge Trail.

An easy section along the ridge heading towards Mt. Liberty.

Scrambling to the sky. At the top of this pitch is an open ledgy shoulder.

Looking back at Little Haystack and Mt. Lincoln.

The summit crags rise ahead like a rock fortress. Blue sky and puffy clouds - what a day!

Looking north up the Lincoln Brook valley.

Mt. Garfield and its south cliffs.

Looking across at the slide-streaked face of Mt. Flume. I hadn't originally planned to go over there, but the day was too fine to resist.

Always a cool-looking mountain!

Osceola, another mountain with a rugged character.

Looking down the Pemigewasset River valley and I-93. Vast horizons today; I could see peaks as far away as Monadnock in New Hampshire and Stratton in Vermont.

Nice angle on Cannon and the Cannon Cliffs.

The Cannon Balls rise behind Lonesome Lake. Snowy Mt. Mansfield can be seen on the left horizon.

The Kinsmans across the valley.

Mt. Moosilauke dominates to the SW.

Gazing east into the Pemigewasset Wilderness, with Mt. Carrigain and the Nancy Range overlooking the long valley of the East Branch.

The Twin-Bond Range rises beyond Owl's Head in the heart of the Pemi.

North and South Twin.

Mt. Guyot and the huge slides in the Redrock Brook cirques, with the Presidentials beyond.

The Bonds, featuring the creased crags of Bondcliff.

View up the Franconia Range from the summit rocks.

USGS benchmark on west side of summit.

After an hour and a half stay soaking up the views on Liberty, it was time to head over to Flume. After an initial steep drop, the partly packed trail passed through a fir wave with restricted views.

The deep snowpack of late March.

Open woods in the Liberty-Flume col.

A short bushwhack on a shoulder below the summit of Flume provided a unique angle on the route of the Osseo Trail down to the valley. It runs down the crest of the slide-scarred ridge in the foreground, then eventually drops to the right into the long valley at the left-center of the picture.

A view out over the Birch Island Brook valley to Black Pond, Carrigain and Hancock.

Scrub and wind-packed snow approaching the summit of Flume.

Someone took a plunge into a spruce trap.

Looking back at Little Haystack, Lincoln and Lafayette.

Peering north from the summit of Flume.

The Lincoln Brook valley and Mt. Garfield.

Prayer flags at the summit of Flume.

Looking down the steep west face of the mountain into the Flume Brook valley. Lots of birch down there from a 1908 forest fire.

The summit crest - a unique spot in the Whites. Quite different from the rocky crown of Liberty. Two distinctive peaks.

The steep profile of Liberty, with the Kinsmans behind.

Heading down the crest on the Franconia Ridge Trail. Having left a message for Carol for a ride, I now planned to descend the Osseo Trail - a longtime favorite - to Lincoln Woods.

This steep scramble was a little tricky on the descent, but doable with the soft deep snow.

Looking down one of the Flume slides.

Wild and ragged on the south side of Flume.

The start of the Osseo Trail, which Thom Davis had traversed the day before and reported in fine shape.

Great snowshoeing down the softly-packed track.

Heading down the scrubby ridge above the ladders.

A SE view from a spot at the top of the ladders.

Nice view of Owl's Head from the "Down-Look" viewpoint.

Mt. Flume from the "Down-Look."

As Thom reported, the ladders were completely buried in soft snow, making these steep pitches fairly easy to negotiate on snowshoes.

After a long, pleasant switchbacking descent off the ridge, I started the two-mile section that runs at easy grades down the valley of Osseo Brook. After plowing through powder on the ridge, here the snow was wet and spring-like where it had been in the sun all day.

Looking back at the wild spur that guards the south side of the valley.

Spring is coming at the lower elevations!

The last flat section winding along Osseo Brook to the Lincoln Woods Trail, the finale to a great day on the southern Franconia Range.


  1. Nice TR and very nice photos Steve. :)

    1. Thank you, Yvon! It was a beautiful day.


  2. What a gorgeous day you had Steve. Liberty, for some reason, is my favorite peak on the ridge. I prefer it's views into the Pemi than from any of the others. Spectacular photos.

    I may have missed it in reports on any hiking forum before so what's the prayer flags all about?

    Thanks for sharing,

    1. Thanks, Joe - I agree about Liberty. I've spent a lot of "hang time" there over the years.

      I don't know who put the prayer flags on Flume, or why. Thom Davis had seen them the day before. Gives it a little Nepalese flavor.


  3. Steve-O ! You are on a roll. What a great day in your neighborhood. ~ Cath

    1. Thanks, Cath! We are indeed lucky to have places like this in our backyard.