Franconia Notch State Park

April 21. 2011 3:38PM

Located in the heart of the popular White Mountain National Forest. Franconia Notch is a spectacular mountain pass traversed by a unique parkway which extends from the Flume Gorge at the south to Echo Lake at the north. For eight miles, I-93 winds between the high peaks of the Kinsman and Franconia mountain ranges.

Franconia Notch was the home of the famous Old Man of the Mountain, the same "Great Stone Face" immortalized by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Daniel Webster.

While you are here, stop at the Flume Gorge Visitor Center and walk through the renowned Flume Gorge, ride the exciting aerial tramway at Cannon Mountain, and visit the New England Ski Museum. Take your time, stop for a swim at Echo Lake, net a trout while fly fishing at Profile Lake, ride your bike on the Recreational Trail, watch for rock climbers, hawks, and falcons on Cannon Cliffs, or hike on the Appalachian Trail. Bring the family, stay awhile, and enjoy Franconia Notch State Park.

Activities: Camping, swimming, hiking, picnicking, fishing, boating, biking, skiing/snowboarding, cross country skiing, snowmobiling.

The Basin

The beautiful waterfall at the Basin, has at its base, a granite pothole 20 feet in diameter. It is believed to have been eroded 15,000 years ago while the North American ice sheet was melting. It has been smoothed by small stones and sand whirled around by the Pemigewasset River. Below the Basin is a water-eroded rock formation called the Old Man's foot.

Cannon Mountain

Cannon's 80-passenger aerial tramway quickly ascends 2,022' over a horizontal distance of more than a mile whisking you above the timberline to the 4,200-foot summit for spectacular views of the White Mountains, into Maine, Vermont and even Canada. Walking trails leave from the summit station to an observation tower with panoramic views of the valleys and mountains. Cafeterias and The New England Ski Museum.

Echo Lake Beach & Cannon Mountain RV Park

Beautiful Echo Lake, at an elevation of 1,931 feet, offers swimming, fishing, and small boat access, as well as views of Mt. Lafayette and Cannon Mountain. In a different watershed from Profile Lake, its waters flow westerly toward the Connecticut River.

Flume Gorge

A natural chasm takes visitors from the Flume Visitor Center on wide gravel paths and wooden walkways through covered bridges, past waterfalls and through the 800-foot long gorge with its sheer 90-foot walls. Scenic pools, glacial boulders, and mountain views. Free 15-minute movie at the Information Center provides an introduction to Franconia Notch State Park.

Lafayette Campground

98 sites, showers. Camp store. Excellent hiking, biking base with easy access to Appalachian Trail and nine-mile paved bike path.

Old Man of the Mountain

Also known as "The Profile" or the "Great Stone Face," an internationally known phenomenon, the Old Man was discovered in 1805 by workmen building the first road through Franconia Notch. The Old Man, which collapsed in May of 2003, was a natural, granite profile jutting from a sheer cliff 1,200 above Profile Lake. Carved by nature thousands of years ago, the profile was formed by five separate ledges and measured 40 feet from chin to forehead. For more information, go to the Old Man of the Mountain page.

Profile Lake

This small, clear body of water is the headwaters of the Pemigewasset River. Directly below where the Old Man of the Mountain was, it was often called the Old Man's Washbowl. The lake is well-known for its brook trout and is open to fly-fishing only. In the 19th Century Profile Lake was the entertainment center of the region, housing concerts and other events throughout each summer as New England society flocked to the White Mountains.

Boise Rock

In the early 1800s, Thomas Boise sought shelter under this large boulder when a blizzard blocked passage for him and his horse on the notch road. Near the boulder you can find a cool spring, picnic tables, and an exceptional view of Cannon Cliffs. Boise Rock is only accessible from the northbound side of the highway.

Hiking in Franconia Notch State Park

Briefly described below are a few of the more popular family hikes in Franconia Notch State Park.

  • Bald Mountain and Artists Bluff, reached by a short hike, offer fine views of Cannon Mountain and Franconia Notch. The 1 1/2 mile loop begins in the parking area across Route 18 from Peabody Base Lodge. After 1/4 mile a short, steep path diverges left for 1/10 mile to the open summit of Bald Mountain. The main trail continues on from the junction and bears right, up and across the low ridge. A short, unmarked path diverges left to the open top of Artists Bluff. The main trail continues down to Route 18 near Echo Lake.
  • Lonesome Lake, nestled in the mountains 1,000 feet above the floor of the notch, is a popular hiking destination. It is reached by a 1 1/2 mile (one way) trail that begins at Lafayette Place, just south of the cabin near the campground. A lakeside trail leads to the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) hut at the far end of the lake and passes by an inactive beaver lodge.
  • Kinsman Falls, a beautiful, secluded and oft overlooked spot on Cascade Brook can be found by following the Basin-Cascades Trail for 1/2 mile from the Basin. Many potholes and ledges in the brook along the way make for an enjoyable twenty minute (one way) walk. A rough path diverges left off the trail to the cool base of the falls. Follow the main trail a short way to a brook crossing to the left that leads to Rocky Glenn Falls.
  • The open ledges at the 2,557-foot summit of Mt. Pemigewasset (Indian Head) afford excellent views of Franconia Notch, the Franconia Range and the valley to the south. The 1.4 mile (one way) trail climbs moderately to the summit from the Flume Visitor Center parking area. Return can be made by the same route or via the Indian Head Trail that diverges from the Mt. Pemigewasset Trail just below the summit, and leads one mile to Route 3, one mile south of the Flume Visitor Center.

Location: On I-93/Route 3, Franconia Notch Parkway, Lincoln/Franconia


General Information: 603-823-8800

Flume Gorge & Visitor Center: 603-745-8391

Lafayette Campground: 603-823-9513

Cannon Mountain, Echo Lake Beach, Cannon RV Park: 603-823-8800

Amenities: Campground, RV campground, restrooms, cafeterias, gift shops, 8-mile paved recreation path, canoe, paddle boat and bike rentals, boat launch, covered bridges, hiker information center, New England Ski Museum, full service ski area

Operation Schedule:

Franconia Notch in General: Year-round

The Flume Gorge & Visitor Center: Early May to Late October

Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway: Summer: Mid-May to Mid-October

Winter (skiing/snowboarding): Late November to Mid-April

Lafayette Campground: Mid-May to Columbus Day

Cannon Mountain RV Park: Year-round

NH State Parks Website

NH State Parks Pet Policy

White Mountains

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