Flume Gorge at Franconia Notch State Park – White Mountains, New Hampshire
The nature in the White Mountains of New Hampshire are stunning giving views not just from high above but down below as well. There is a natural gorge at the base of Mount Liberty in Franconia Notch State called Flume Gorge. This area is very popular to visit as it is built up for guests with walking paths and boardwalks to see everything without entailing a proper hike. The loop around all the attractions is 2 miles long and does require walking up and down hill a bit with some stairs to navigate as well.
As of this post, visiting requires an entry ticket and a reservation made ahead of time. Fortunately, booking a visit includes an entry ticket and a reservation so you do not need to do two separate transactions. The website to book can be found here. They do list an option of purchasing onsite but it is more expensive and subject to availability. On the day we visited, they were not permitted walkup ticket purchases due to the crowds. The reservation slots accommodate about 300 people an hour so the park can absorb quite a number of people.
The day we visited was a rainy morning and even with our early arrival for the 9AM open, there was already a line waiting to get in. We waited in the car until 9AM to avoid the cold rain and once the line opened, it was a matter of minutes until we were showing our reservation confirmation and permitted inside. Everything about this reminded us of visiting Watkins Glen State Park in the Finger Lakes – gorges are so cool!
The first part of the trail walks through the forest and down to a covered bridge and waterway. The Flume Covered Bridge was built in 1886 making it one of the oldest covered bridges in the state. This was a very popular spot for photos but I was able to find a great shot after crossing the bridge and looking back for a nice shot with no people. I could tell avoiding people in the photo frame was going to be a challenge but the crowds thinned out a bit further along and with a little patience, it is possible even on busy days.
From here the trail continued along the river and up to the gorge. The gorge is located at the base of Mt Liberty and extends over 800ft and 90ft at the highest point. The area around the gorge had boardwalk to take you through the gorge following the river then up to the waterfalls. It was very cool to see the area from this vantage point and luckily the gorge and the falls are not so massive so there is no fear of heights factor. This are was very pretty and the rain gave the waterfall a bit for energy and the entire place feel lush even though it was fall.
The next area continued up and over the gorge and through the forrest and to Avalanche Falls, passing a view lovely viewpoints that were completely unexpected. Do not miss little turn offs like this as there are some great photo opportunities.
The next section was definitely our favorite part of the trail – this bridge area was absolutely stunning. The water area is known as The Pool is a 40ft basin and the Sentinel Pine Bridge was formed by a giant pine tree that fell over in a hurricane and connecting the two sides of the Penigewasset River. This area just stood out – the trees were all turned, the fog in the background, the clear water below. Just look at these pictures! Some of our favorites of the trip.
The trail then leads back to the entrance. We completed the loop around 1030AM which means our visit totaled an hour and a half. We really enjoyed our visit and it offered more than what we expected. I highly recommend adding this to your New Hampshire itinerary when visiting the White Mountains!