Hiking Mount Liberty and Mount Flume as an out and back via Liberty Spring Trail made for a great day in the White Mountains – expect a steep rocky trail and open summits with sweeping views.
|0 mi||0 mi||Start at Liberty Spring Trailhead|
|0.7 mi||0.7 mi||Pemi Trail to Liberty Spring Trail (some of this is on a paved bike path)|
|0.6 mi||1.3 mi||Liberty Spring Trail to the junction with Flume Slide Trail|
|2.3 mi||3.6 mi||Liberty Spring Trail to Franconia Ridge Trail|
|0.3 mi||3.9 mi||Franconia Ridge Trail to summit of Mt. Liberty|
|1.2 mi||5.1 mi||Franconia Ridge Trail to summit of Mt. Flume|
|1.2 mi||6.3 mi||Franconia Ridge Trail back to summit of Mt. Liberty|
|0.3 mi||6.6 mi||Franconia Ridge Trail back to Liberty Spring Trail|
|2.9 mi||9.5 mi||Liberty Spring Trail back to Pemi Trail|
|0.7 mi||10.2 mi||Pemi Trail back to parking lot|
Hiking Mount Liberty and Mount Flume
Hike Date: Jun 13, 2020
In keeping with COVID-19 guidelines, we had not hiked in the White Mountains since early March. And wow, had we missed it! For the past three months, we trained however we could – stairs with packs, strength training, local hikes. It was well worth it. We hiked this 10.2 mile out and back of Mt. Liberty and Mt. Flume and loved every minute of it. Our legs were fatigued by the end, but our training really helped us stay in hiking shape.
We started at Liberty Spring Trailhead and walked about 0.7 miles on the Pemi Trail, which briefly joined a paved bike path and crossed a bridge over the Pemigewasset River, to reach Liberty Spring Trail. This trail, a section of the Appalachian Trail, offered a slow and steady incline with relatively soft footing for the beginning of the hike, which was exactly what we needed to ease back into hiking.
After 0.6 miles on Liberty Spring Trail, we ran into the junction with Flume Slide Trail that takes you up the incredibly steep and notoriously slippery Flume Slide to hike Mt. Flume and Liberty as a loop. This time, we opted to continue up Liberty Spring Trail to complete our hike as an out and back in order to avoid the steep and potentially dangerous section. Shortly after the juncture sign, we came to a stream crossing and the elevation really picked up from there, remaining consistently rocky and steep for the rest of the 2.6 mi ascent to Mt. Liberty. It felt like a never-ending rock stairmaster through a tunnel of beautifully vibrant spring green of new growth.
Close to the ridgeline, we passed Liberty Springs Tentsite, which has a spring for a water source and tent platforms for backpackers. After completing most of the elevation gain, we reached Franconia Ridge Trail and turned right to make the last steep climb to Mt. Liberty.
It lifted our spirits to emerge from the trees and see the massive rock outcrop atop Mt. Liberty. Once on the summit, we were almost touching the clouds as they hovered low over the peaks. They were rolling in from Franconia Notch, climbing up the slopes and obscuring the view of Cannon Mountain. We did have clear views into the Pemi Wilderness and Mt. Flume, our next destination!
After a quick break and snack, we kept moving down the trail, heading 1.2 mi to Mt. Flume. The first section of the col consisted of some steep rock slabs, and then leveled out along a muddy track before the last ascent. With many others hiking towards us while doing the traditional loop or having started at Lincoln Woods, it felt a little like swimming upstream and we moved as quickly as possible to the summit of Mt. Flume. The clouds still hung low overhead as we took in the incredible views, marveling at the exploding green on the mountains’ flanks. We snapped a few pictures and turned around to retrace our steps back to the parking lot.
By the time we passed back over Mt. Liberty, it was totally socked in with no views at all. The rocky descent jostled our joints and made us work for every step. It was a relief and a joy to get down to the easier forest path for the last mile or so to end an amazing hiking day.