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Franconia Loop Restoration Project

Restoration crews will be active Monday - Thursday summer 2024. Use caution when hiking through active work areas.

- Please follow the trail crew's instructions.

- Do not walk off trail to get around the project site.

- Please be patient for your safety and the safety of the trail workers.

About the Franconia Loop Trail

Did you know that the Franconia Ridge Trail is one of the busiest in the region, with up to 1,000 hikers per day in peak season? The view along the entire length of the ridge is the definition of spectacular. It encompasses a section of the Appalachian Trail, makes the 4,000-footer list and is a bucket list goal for day hikers and back packers alike. That’s why we’re working with the Partnership to Restore the Franconia Ridge Trail to ensure this resource can be enjoyed for generations to come.

The Franconia Ridge Trail Loop was built between 1826 and 1958 before the advent of modern knowledge and practices of building trails for resiliency. AMC, United States Forest Service, White Mountain National Forest, and New Hampshire Parks and Recreation crews are working to restore these trails to ensure they can withstand changing weather patterns and the increased use of The Franconia Ridge Trail. It is comprised of four trails: Franconia Ridge Trail, Falling Waters Trail; Greenleaf Trail, and Old Bridle Path. 8.6 miles of these trails are on White Mountain National Forest lands. The Trail traverses fragile alpine habitats and is home to the third largest connected area of alpine tundra in the eastern United States.

A special thank you goes out to all the trail crews and organizations putting the efforts forward to restore this incredible trail loop. The Partnership to Restore the Franconia Ridge consists of trail crews from the White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire State Parks, Appalachian Mountain Club, Northwoods Stewardship Center Conservation Corps, Vermont Youth Conservations Corps, New Hampshire Student Conservation Corps, Off the Beaten Path, Trailworks LLC and Peter Johnsen & Associates LLC.

Why Restore the Franconia Loop Trail?

The popularity of hiking has exploded in recent years. We want future adventurers to be able to hike Franconia Ridge in the safest and most sustainable way possible. Our trail restoration work will make it easier for hikers to stay on the trail and avoid trampling the fragile ecosystem from the base to summit. The Franconia Ridge and Greenleaf trails traverse fragile alpine habitat that takes years to recover after being trampled, loss of this vegetation will have adverse effects on the alpine ecosystem. Portions of the Falling Waters Trail has numerous river crossings that have been heavily damaged by recent storms, making these crossing and rocks scrambles increasingly more challenging and dangerous. All of the trails are in need of significant repairs and some areas of the trail system will require realignment. This ensures a resilient future for both the trail loop and the surrounding natural areas.

Get Involved

Crews will spend 20 weeks drilling, splitting, and installing stone steps to make more uniform structures on the Old Bridle Path and upper Greenleaf Trail. If you would like to support the restoration efforts, there are numerous way you can get involved.

Volunteer for trail crew - Sign up for Saturday Volunteer Days. No experience is required, there will be a trained AMC leader on site to prove instruction and guidance. This is a wonderful opportunity to give back to the trail systems of New Hampshire, while learning about what it takes to build and maintain sustainable trails.

Donate - Not up for the physically demanding work of a trail crew? Your donations help keep crews on the trails, from paying for tools and equipment, to the necessary supplies need for extended stays in the wilderness.

Field Updates

Update 1:
Crews began work on the Old Bridle Path May 28th. A campsite for crews was established, tools and equipment were transported from the parking lots to work sites. Crews began quarrying stones with rocks drills to split boulders into manageable pieces. These become stone steps and stone water bars to assist with water drainage. The projects for this week and next are mostly staircases and check steps to address small, isolated sections of erosion.

Update 2:
Rain this summer has not made for easy work but trail crews have made exceptional progress with what they have been given. The crews have created several sections of 5-foot-wide steps (as seen below). This allows for two hikers to easily pass each other without trampling the sensitive vegetation. Teams have also begun clearing new sections of trail that will, when complete, become the new Old Bridle Path. At the moment these trails are rough cuts, and the beginnings of these new cuts are obscured by branches and other vegetation as to not create confusion.

Update 3:
As of August 8th, crews have installed around 66 stone steps, cut on site from rocks found in the local work area. They have also created 222 linear feet of bench cuts and 56 feet of stone crib walls. Bench cuts remove layers of topsoil and rock to create a flat walking surface that traverses the hill rather than going straight up or down it. This allows for more sustainable and lower Maintenace trails. Stone crib walls are essentially retaining walls built to maintain the trail's tread. They are typically found in sections where the trail is unstable and has a tendency to erode downslope. A well-constructed rock wall can last virtually indefinitely.

Update 4:
The trails crews' main focus of work is on the stabilization of eroded sections, filling back in and terracing the gullied trail with wide steps that encourage hikers to stay in the trail. Efforts have been made towards improving drainage by installing stone waterbars and natural grade reversals at regular intervals to channel water off the trail and protect the newly built structures. On August 19th, 20 volunteers worked to bench-cut a 600-foot sections of trail, resetting the tread from a jumble of rocks to a 5-foot-wide walking path.

Update 5:
14 more stone staircase sections approximately 5 feet wide have been completed and a few new sections have been started. Much time is dedicated to quarrying, splitting and moving stone for new step sections. Quarrying is done in the woods alongside the trail and stones are moved by hand to the trail corridor. The crews use a hammer drill, generator and metal "feathers and wedges" to cut larger boulders into cube-shaped steps. As of August 31, 94 stone steps have been cut, shaped and placed into the trail. These staircases vary from 4-5 feet wide, allowing for plenty of space for passing along the busy sections of the trail.

Stay tuned for updates. We will be tracking the restoration effort throughout the summer.

Before and After Photos

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Old Bridle Path Photo Gallery

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