Flume-Liberty Loop

Mount Flume (4328') and Mount Liberty (4459')

2001 September 01

This is a well known loop the overlaps part of the Appalachian Trail. It offers two of NH's 48 peaks over 4000' and can be done in a day. For us it was a crash course on hiking do's and don't's and also our first 4000 footer. It took us about 7.5 hours to cover the approximate 10.7 mile, 3700' loop and that's after hiking the 2 mile Flume Gorge loop for 12.7 miles and 4100' total that day! We ascended via the Flume Slide trail which can be a rather difficult and potentially dangerous trail, especially when wet. I have seen some sites that suggest hiking up Liberty and down Flume. I would recommend against this.

The weather was questionable, so we hiked the Flume Gorge (400', 2mi) tourist area since Elleing had never seen it. We figured it would justify the trip if the weather didn't clear up. After the hiking the Flume Gorge Loop, we ate chicken sandwiches and popcorn in the cafeteria and it was a good thing we did. At 11:30 AM the weather looked a bit better, so we packed the plastic ponchos we just purchased for our scenic hike through Flume Gorge and with 2 miles already behind us, we got going.

We hiked up Flume Slide Trail in the rain which was a mistake especially since a trailhead sign warned against it. We managed well enough, but we would never recommend it, nor would we do it again. Some have suggested hiking the loop in the opposite direction. I can't see why since climbing down the Flume Slide trail has to be much more difficult and dangerous.

Shawn_on_Flume_Slide_trail elleing_on_flume_slide_trail at_Osseo_trail_junction

I was surprised how much colder it was on the ridge. We had hike up Flume Slide in shorts and t-shirts, but we quickly put on pants and long-sleeve shirts. With the rain long gone, the views were fantastic from both summits. Unfortunately, it was too cold and we had too little time to spend much time up there. We took pictures of the summits and ate PowerBars on the summits and moved on. I was surprised to see Loon Mt. Skit Area up there, too. It seemed too close.

Liberty_from_Flume_summit Elleing_on_Flume_summit Loon_Mt_trails

We continued on from Flume to Liberty because it looked so close on the map and by sight. Plus, the thought of trying to descend over the wet flume slide trail was scary. We now appreciate what a few hundred feet of extra vertical can mean on tired feet. It was still nice to get to hike the whole loop. It was dark by the time we neared the base of the mountain and every footfall hurt. I stopped once to rub Elleing's feet and We even walked on the grass during the last, paved, mile because the pavement was too hard. Breaks weren't an option because it was getting dark and I didn't want to get stuck on the trail without a flashlight. We passed through the Whitehouse trailhead parking lot at about 7:30pm and they were locking the gates. We were parked at the Flume Visitor Center, so it wasn't an issue.

parking_lot_from_ridge elleing_on_liberty shawn_on_liberty elleing_cold_and_tired Flume_from_Liberty_summit at_liberty_spring_trail_junction

On this hike, we began to appreciate the things you hear recommended so often about hiking. The cotton sweatpants I brought for warmth although effective were too heavy. We were very hungry and by late afternoon we had exhausted our PowerBars. Elleing began eating Starburst candies just to get some more sugar in her. Our shoes were uncomfortable for such a long walk. Elleing even returned hers to EMS (EMS is a great store!). We were fortunate that the rain had let up or we would have been appreciating proper rain gear as well.

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