Mt. Liberty (4459 ft)

Friday, May 31, 1996

Today the weather was excellent.

I approached Liberty using the Liberty Spring Trail. This is by far the most direct route. I parked at the hiker's parking area on route 3 just north of the Flume. From there I followed the Whitehouse Trail to the start of the Liberty Spring Trail. The Whitehouse Trail rambled through the woods for a bit. It soon came to the bike trail that goes up into Franconia Notch. The trail then follows the bike trail. It was a nice walk. In places, the trail was right near the Pemigewasset River.

After almost a mile, the Whitehouse Trail comes to the start of the Liberty Springs Trail. This junction is just after the Whitehouse Trail crosses over the Pemigewasset on a nice bridge (part of the bike trail). I turned up the Liberty Spring Trail and immediately started climbing gradually, but steadily. After a short distance, the Flume Slide Trail turned off to the right. I continued up the Liberty Spring Trail and soon came to a rather nice stream. The trail crossed the stream (possible by hopping from rock to rock), but I lingered to enjoy the running water. There were, much to my surprise, very few bugs.

The trail continued uphill steadily but gradually until the spruce forest started to come in. Then the trail became steeper (although not excessively so) and more relentless. As I climbed I started to get some interesting views through the trees of the Kinsman Range across the valley.

The deciduous forest gradually gave way completely to conifers. By the time I reached the Liberty Spring Campsite there were no deciduous trees at all, and there were patches of snow on the ground. I rested at the campsite for a bit. There were several tent platforms there and, of course, a nice spring.

The trail continued uphill and I encountered more and more snow as I climbed. In places, the trail was comletely covered. The snow was not fresh; it was well packed and melted.

Finally, the trail reached it's junction with the Franconia Ridge Trail. From there I turned south to make the final ascent to the summit. At this point, the spruce forest was shrinking, but the snow coverage was complete. Thankfully the trail was still well packed.

As the trail opened up near the summit, the snow disappeared. Evidently the bright sun had melted it off of the exposed places. The trail climbed a false summit and then, after a short distance more, ascended the true summit.

The top was open and the views were spectacular. The Pemigewasset Wilderness, Franconia Notch, and the Kinsmans were all up close and personal. It appeared to me that I couldn't see Lafayette because I think it was directly behind Lincoln. In the distance, Mt. Washington rose up imposingly. It was covered with a thin layer of fresh snow.

I was most impressed with the green of the forest. Since it was still early, the leaves have not come fully out at the upper elevations. However, at the valley floor, the leaves were well developed. Thus the forest had a rich green color in the valleys, but the green became more diffuse and subdued as you looked up the slopes of the mountains. The color faded to light purple just before the dark green of the conifers took over. It was very interesting.

The return trip was uneventful. I encountered more black flies on the way down than on the way up. However, they were not a problem. In general, I saw very few bugs on this trip.

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© Copyright 1996 by Peter C. Chapin.
Last Revised: June 16, 1996