Canadian in Candia

August 21, 2009

Franconia Notch Recreational Trail

Filed under: New Hampshire — Tags: , , — Miriam @ 7:00 am

The Franconia Notch Recreational Trail is not called a Bike Path. It is essentially the bike path for the notch because the only other road through it is federal interstate I-93, but it is not a regulation bike path. Cyclists must ride on relatively fast grades, sharing the path with pedestrians, dogs and other cyclists.   This website talks extensively about the “Franconia Notch Fiasco” if you want to read more about another person’s views of the negative aspects of the path.

Either way these are things I heard about the path before heading to the White Mountains to ride it on Saturday.
Franconia Notch

We parked at the Cannon Tram parking area. That was probably the wrong way to go, the path travels slightly uphill most of the way to Cannon and the way towards the Flume was easy coasting, but the way back up was more work.

Franconia NotchI’m not an incredibly experienced cyclist. I’ve raced triathlons and I’ve riden my bike all over Boston and St. Catharines, but by no means do I feel comfortable with turns at high speeds. I enjoyed the views and the exercise, but I felt very uncomfortable with parts of the trail. The trail is windy and you can gather a great deal of speed on the downhills. I would absolutely recommend a helmet (which you should be wearing anyways) and I wouldn’t recommend the trail for bike groups with young children.

Franconia Notch

The trail is quite popular and hits most of the major carside attractions in Franconia Notch State Park (the one thing I noticed missing was the Bose Rock/Cannon Cliff Viewing area). From South to North, the Flume Visitor Center parking area is a good departure point and the start of the official recreational path. There’s bike racks outside the visitors center if you want to pay to do the Flume nature walk (which I have never done).
Franconia Notch

The first major area of interest is the Basin. The Basin is essentially a large pothole waterfall. With several other cascade falls. It’s a popular area. But worth the stop. The bike path has occasional benches and picnic benches on the side for those who want to take breaks.
Franconia Notch
Franconia Notch
Franconia Notch

The next major area North is Lafayette Place. There’s great views of Mount Lafayette (I posted a picture of the view here too) and Lincoln. We stopped at the camp store for a popcicle.

Franconia Notch

The trail passes the side trail to the ex-“Old Man of the Mountain” site. I’m sure it used to be a huge tourist attraction. This is also one of the areas in which you are supposed to walk your bike.

Franconia Notch

Continuing on our path North is the base of Cannon Mountain Ski Area and the parking lot for the Cannon Tram. There’s bike racks here too if you want to do a trip up the mountain.

Franconia Notch

The next stretch of path goes along Echo Lake. There are great views of Echo and Profile Crag, popular climbing areas (I’ve climbed at Echo). We actually saw people climbing as we passed through. Echo lake also has a very popular beach and views of a third climbing area called Artist Bluff.
Franconia Notch

The website mentioned earlier warns about the next section, it consists of a steep downgrade with a sharp turn. I didn’t like this part.  I may have freaked myself out a little bit though.

Past the steep section is a beautiful wide bridge that looks like it was once part of a road. This section is the safest part of the bike path in my opinion. It’s wide, relatively flat and the trees are cut back from the edges.

Franconia Notch
The trail ends at the Skoocumchuck Trailhead. One of the trails to the top of Lafayette. We actually passed some guys walking on the path that were most likely using the recreational trail to make a loop out of Lafayette.
Franconia Notch

The bike path is 9 miles end to end. I found the 18 mile round trip to be a great way to spend a lovely afternoon. But like I said, young kids would have to be extensively supervised.

Franconia Notch

On an aside, please if you are walking on what is essentially a bike path with young children. Please don’t give the evil eye to cyclists who warn you they are approaching, great you with a smile and slow down to a crawl. There are plenty of walking paths in Franconia Notch, and only one path for bicycles. We just want everyone to be happy and safe.

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1 Comment »

  1. Beautiful views!

    I feel your pain with the whole pedestrian vs. cyclists on the paths thing. The scary thing is that (at least in my commute) there are many cyclists who just zoom past pedestrians/children/dogs without any warning. Some people find bells ringing annoying but in my commute to work there is usually at least one person who acknowledges the warning, so it’s worth it to do every time. 🙂

    Comment by Bean — August 21, 2009 @ 1:01 pm


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