The day began with meeting at the Richmond Park & Ride at 6 am where two of us met to head to Montpelier Park & Ride to pick up a third hiker at 6:30 am. Four of us total but 3 carpool with one meeting us at trailhead. Everything timed out perfectly and we arrived at the trailhead slightly before 8 am. Bamby, Susan, Sheri and I assembled our gear to begin the hike, did brief introductions and we began the hike at 8:15 am. Walked up to the trail beginning where noticed the restroom buildings and took advantage prior to beginning due to the long drive (~ 2 hours).
Headed up the Falling Waters Trail at 0.2 mile mark where crossed a bridge over the stream. Our next excitement was at 9:15 am where we made our first of 5 stream crossings walking on the rocks. The first stream crossing was one of the most difficult after making it 90% of the way across but we all made it without any mishaps.. About 5 groups were crossing between the time we arrived and finished crossing. Some removed shoes and socks to wade through the stream with one person from a separate group losing a shoe to the stream and one a water bottle before making it to the other side. That couple had to return to their vehicle as they had another pair shoes in the car as we saw them later on the hike. Bamby and Susan did the barefoot crossing at the first two stream crossings (Brrrrrrrrrrr!) The second crossing was at 9:25 am so only a short distance and definitely easier as less current at this crossing with flatter terrain albeit some large steps between rocks. Some great waterfalls at 3 of the crossings as an added bonus. The 5th and last stream crossing for us was at 10:20 am. Arrived at 11:25 am for Shining Rock Cliff trail sign so I went the 0.2 miles to the opening while the rest of the group headed onward toward the trail juncture of Franconia Ridge trail where Little Haystack Mountain(4,780 feet) is located at which we arrived at 11:45 am. Ate some snacks and chatted with a family about what the surrounding summits were while at Little Haystack for about 20 minutes. Pleasantly surprised with no mud on the trails and only needed microspikes for traction on snow/slushy mix on certain sections of the trails. Clear skies, awesome temperatures in the 70’s, and beautiful views of all the surrounding summits as entire ridge was exposed, such as Mount Willey, Mount Tom, Mount Washington and too many to name. Began our next section of the hike to Mount Lincoln (0.7 miles, 300 feet elevation gain). Arrived at Mt. Lincoln about 12:30 pm, where ate lunch and soaked up the sun and views until ~ 1:15-1:30 pm. We were scoping out Mount Lafayette, which has an elevation gain of 200 feet over 1 mile distance. We could see the Greenleaf hut off in the distance but it was all locked up until summer. Arrived at Mount Lafayette at ~2:15-2:30 pm where we enjoyed more great views identifying the surrounding peaks with the Peakfinder app. The rest of the trip was all elevation drop over the remaining ~4 miles to trailhead. We arrived at the Green Leaf Hut at ~3:45 for our final descent where Old Bridal Path began (distance~2.17 miles with travel time to trailhead ~2.75 hours). Made pretty good time as ended hike at 5:15-5:30 pm. Total hike distance was 9.3 miles from map calculation but 10.12 miles from Strava mapping app and 3,836 feet elevation gain.
Hike participants: Susan Tobin, Bamby Pierpont-Bates, Sheri Rockcastle, Dale Schmit (Trip Leader). Photos: Bamby, Susan, Sheri, Dale.