Wednesday, September 2, 2015


A gorgeous sunny day with low humidity beckoned for high peak vistas. I changed plans from a lower elevation hike and decided to climb Mount Flume via the Osseo Trail, a longtime favorite. The day was so fine I ended up continuing across to Mount Liberty, coming down via the Liberty Spring Trail and bumming a ride back from Carol (thanks!).

The Lincoln Woods lot was pretty quiet on this end-of-summer midweek morning.

Looking up the East Branch from the footbridge.

View from the washed-out opening along the Lincoln Woods Trail.

Onto the Osseo, which was relocated to this wonderful route in 1983 due to condo construction at the base of the old route. I was one of the first hikers to come down it after it opened that year. It's a long route - 5.6 miles to the summit - but has mostly easy to moderate grades and a good variety of scenery.

The first 0.2 mile is a pleasant meander alongside Osseo Brook.

An interesting mushroom.

The first two miles of Osseo feature mostly easy grades and good footing as it follows old tote roads (and one short section of a 1901-vintage gravity railroad built by J.E. Henry's crews) up the long valley.

Higher up, the trail hops up onto the crest to the north, and eventually makes some neat switchbacks as it approaches the steep nose of the ridge.

The first view back to the Bonds, from a turn in the trail.

This bodacious section of Osseo climbs through amazingly steep terrain, using a series of wooden staircases/ladders to surmount the sharpest pitches.

At 4.6 miles from the trailhead, elevation 3500 ft., your reach the nifty viewpoint known as the "Downlook,"

This spot has an excellent view of Owl's Head and the Twin-Bond Range, in the western half of the Pemigewasset Wilderness.

Looking up at Mount Flume and the upper part of its great NE ridge.

From one angle you can see down to the broad floor of the Birch Island Brook valley.

Years ago I bushwhacked from Black Pond to this cliff on the trailless ridge on the north side of the valley. A neat spot.

From the Downlook there's also a long view up the East Branch valley to Mount Nancy and Mount Carrigain.

Impressive rock step work just above the Downlook.

More staircases.

A short distance above, a spur path leads to a unique SE view, with a peek down into the lower Osseo Brook valley.

Above the viewpoints the trail abruptly levels in a scrubby flat area.

After an easy meandering climb and one burst of steadier ascent, the Osseo ends at the junction with the Franconia Ridge Trail and the Flume Slide Trail.

From the top of the Flume Slide Trail an overgrown path leads out to a private crag.

Looking up at the summit, just to the north.

The view down into the Flume Brook valley from the crag, with Mount Moosilauke in the distance to the left.

The steep profile of Mount Liberty, with the Kinsmans beyond.

The face of Flume.

Back on the Franconia Ridge Trail, a look down from the top of the real Flume Slide.

The craggy summit, with Mounts Lincoln and Lafayette beyond.

On this warm, sunny, windless afternoon, I mostly had the summit to myself. This group of backpackers stopped by briefly before heading for the Osseo Trail.

The deep Flume-Liberty col, 450 feet down from the summit of Flume, 550 feet up from here to the summit of Liberty.

These slanting ledges just below the summit of Liberty can be a bit tricky to traverse.

I arrived at the top around 3:00 pm, and for nearly two hours had the place to myself on this glorious late summer afternoon.

The summit benchmark, located a few yards south of the high point.

North to the upper Franconia Range and Mount Garfield.

This Pemi-viewing ledge on Mount Liberty is one of the great perches in the mountains.

A sweet vista deep into the wilderness.


Mount Garfield and its wild south cliffs. Years ago, on a hot day, I whacked down from Garfield Ridge Trail to the ledge spot visible above the cliffs, and then back up. Great views from that ledge, but the price was high.

The cirques and slides of Redrock Brook; Mount Guyot to the right.

Mount Flume and the southern Whites.

It really couldn't get much better than this...

Looking down Liberty's craggy south ridge.

It was hard to leave this summit, as late afternoon is the best time to peer into the Pemi.

Looking west, Mount Moosilauke was a blue silhouette. Time to go.

The classic view of Liberty's summit crags.

Last vista before descending into the woods.

Some open firs along Franconia Ridge Trail.

The turn onto the Liberty Spring Trail, not one of my all-time favorites.

I stopped at Liberty Spring Campsite to fill a water bottle from the dribbling spring. The campsite was pretty quiet.

Large platforms reserved for group use.

There are few trail sections in the Whites that seem as endless as the 1.5 mile, 1700-foot descent over a wide, uninteresting rocky trail from the ridgecrest to a left turn where the trail finally eases and slips into hardwood forest. I'd climb Liberty more often if it had a more appealing approach. Liberty Spring is just a slog in either direction. But what a fabulous summit!


  1. Looks like you had a great day on Franconia Ridge Steve. If I could pick only one peak as my favorite, it would be Mt. Liberty. And I actually prefer a Liberty/Flume loop to Lafayette/Lincoln. The crowds are one reason but I just love the view into the Pemi. from Liberty. As tedious a climb as it is up Liberty Spring, I've done it on a whim a couple of times.

    And lastly, the "Real Flume Slide" has temped me for years. :)

    Thanks for sharing,

    1. Thanks, Joe. Yup, Liberty is a phenomenal viewpoint. It amazes me every time I go up there on a clear day. And Flume is just a cool spot. That slide does look tempting, though loose.

      How's your ankle healing up?


  2. Thanks, Steve. This is truly beautiful and the Osseo trail looks beguiling. I missed you this summer but had a nice chat with Carol.

    1. Hi Paul,

      Sorry I missed you this summer. Hope you got some good hikes in. The Osseo Trail is one of the best!