Hiking Mt. Flume and Mt. Liberty

Posted on June 27, 2005 by Chris Lumens in .

Since it was over 90 degrees and really humid yesterday, we decided it would be the perfect day to hike up two more 4000’ peaks - Mts. Flume and Liberty. I went with a couple guys from work (Lon and Jeff) and some friends of theirs (Steve, Ruth, Christina). The route we chose started out at a visitors’ center, followed a bike path for a while, broke off that on the Liberty Springs trail, then headed up the Flume Slide trail to the top of Mt. Flume. Then we walked up the Franconia Ridge trail over to Mt. Liberty where we picked up the Liberty Springs trail again and walked back to the car. Overall, a 10 mile hike with over 3000’ of total elevation gain. We reached the visitors center just after 9:30 and were on the trail before 10.

Pictures from this hike

Now, the Flume Slide trail is a little bit notorious for being extremely difficult. It’s simply a marked path straight up the side of Mt. Flume on a rock slide involving about 1800’ of elevation change over 0.7 miles. Basically, you have to haul yourself up the rocks with your hands and be careful to not fall, as it’s a long way down. It was a very hot and humid day, and we were already tired and sweating by the bottom of the slide. So it was a rough 0.7 miles. I think it took me about 90 minutes to make it up including a couple times I got lost when the trail turned to the side and I kept going straight. I can hardly believe that thing passes for a trail and that I was able to make it up.

Flume had some fantastic views of Franconia Notch and all the other mountains in the area. It’s only really exposed on the top. It’s also a very long and steep way down if you were to fall. Anyway after we stopped on top of Flume for a little bit for some lunch, it was time to head across the saddle over to Liberty. You can’t go back down the Flume Slide as it’s entirely too risky, so the only way off the mountain is over another one. I was hoping the ridge trail across would be exposed but no such luck. We dropped back down into the trees quickly and were soon enough headed back up.

Liberty is a little taller than Flume but we had about 500’ of elevation to climb because of the little descent earlier. By the time we started climbing up it, I wasn’t in a great mood because I’d run out of water and my feet were killing me from all the granite rocks on the trail. Liberty was a decently easy summit - way easier than Flume Slide, though most anything would be. We only hung out there long enough for some pictures and to rest up for the descent. The views were spectacular despite the haze. Looking back at Flume was especially impressive.

The trail back down was mostly rocks so it was rough on my feet and knees. By the time we were back to the road, we were all burning up so diving into the icy cold river was a great idea. It was ridiculously cold but totally worth it. We were back at the cars by 6 and after some quick changing, rolling out by 6:30. Dinner was at the excellent Common Man restaurant in Ashland which had great free cheese but also a staircase.

Needless to say, I was tired and beat up when I got back home last night. Otherwise, I would have written about this trip then. It was quite possibly the most difficult hike I’ve ever done both because of the ridiculous steepness of the slide trail and the oppressive heat. I think it’d probably be easier in the spring or fall, but I don’t think I care to find out any time soon. I’m glad I did it but not itching to go back.