Franconia Notch Recreation Path

New Hampshire

17 Reviews

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Franconia Notch Recreation Path Facts

States: New Hampshire
Counties: Grafton
Length: 8.7 miles
Trail end points: Skookumchuck trailhead on US 3/Daniel Webster Hwy., 0.3 mile south of SR 141 (Franconia) and Mt. Pemigewasset trailhead/Flume Gorge and Visitor Center (Lincoln)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Greenway/Non-RT
ID: 8152294

Franconia Notch Recreation Path Description

The Franconia Notch Recreation Path runs the length of the Franconia Notch State Park in the White Mountain National Forest. Commonly called the Recreation Path, the 8.7-mile trail visits most of the park’s attractions, such as the Old Man of the Mountain Historic Site, Echo Lake, and Flume Gorge. The paved path roughly follows I-93 through the pass.

Heading south from the Skookumchuck trailhead, the spectacular views of peaks and forests will remind you that the Notch is indeed a mountain pass between the Kinsman and Franconia Ranges. The elevation changes are also a reminder, as the trail gains about 340 feet to the foot of Cannon Mountain, then drops 750 feet to the terminus at Mt. Pemigewasset trailhead. As satisfying as it will be to descend the hills you crest, observe the 20-mile-per-hour speed limit on the trail.

 The main attractions are marked with walking-only signs for trail users, and they are wheelchair accessible. The route is often shaded as you reach these locations, thanks to the steep mountainsides and trees lining the path. Bring your camera because, in addition to the major sites along the route, you soon will be treated to dazzling vistas at the Sunset Bridge.

 In 2.1 miles you will arrive at Echo Lake Beach, where there’s a store, restrooms, and boat rentals in season. The trail follows the lake 0.5 mile before you reach the legendary Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway. The cable car carries riders up to the 4,080-foot summit, where you can get beer and food at a café, and enjoy views of the Adirondack Mountains on clear days.

 The Old Man of the Mountain Historic Site is the next stop, about 0.4 mile down the trail. The Great Stone Face, which appeared on a cliff as a person’s profile, was mentioned in the 19th-century writings of Daniel Webster and Nathaniel Hawthorne and still appears in silhouette on state highway markers. Although it detached from the cliff face back in 2003, the park has provided informative signage and a viewing platform that re-creates the appearance of the stone face on the cliff for visitors.

 The trail heads mostly downhill for the next 3.3 miles to The Basin, a huge granite pothole in the Pemigewasset River. The final 2 miles take you to the cascading waters and granite walls of the iconic Flume Gorge and Visitor Center before delivering you to the end of the path at the Mt. Pemigewasset trailhead and parking lot.

 Note: Fees are charged at Flume Gorge, Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway, and Echo Lake Beach. Bike rentals and shuttles are available at the Tramway.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the Skookumchuck trailhead from I-93 N, take Exit 35 onto US 3 N/Daniel Webster Hwy. toward Lancaster. Go 0.1 mile, and look for trailhead parking on the right.

To reach the Skookumchuck trailhead from I-93 S, take Exit 36 onto NH 141 toward South Franconia. Turn left onto State Route 141/Butterhill Road. Go 0.8 mile, and turn right onto US 3/Daniel Webster Hwy. Go 0.3 mile, and look for parking on the left.

To reach the Mt. Pemigewasset trailhead from I-93 S, take Exit 34A and merge onto US 3 S/Daniel Webster Hwy. Go 0.4 mile, and turn left into the Flume Gorge and Visitor Center parking lot. The trail starts at the north end.

To reach the Mt. Pemigewasset trailhead from I-93 N, take Exit 34A and merge onto US 3 N/Daniel Webster Hwy. Go 0.1 mile, and turn right into the Flume Gorge and Visitor Center parking lot. The trail starts at the north end.

Franconia Notch Recreation Path Reviews

Pemi Recreational Path

The paved bike path is 8.7 miles starting from the Flume Gorge visitor center in Lincoln and ending at the Skookumchuck trailhead on US 3/Daniel Webster Hwy. This is an excellent trail, with quite a few steep inclines as you’re going through Franconia notch. The trail has many views of the mountains, including the cliffs that the Old Man of the Mountain used to reside on. The trail goes right beside The Basin, as well as along the edge of Echo Lake. You can begin on either end, but there is more parking at the Flume Visitor Center. The trail has many ups and downs, but it mostly ascends for about 4 miles from the Flume, then mostly descends the rest of the way as you go over Franconia Notch. There are a few steep sections along the way and a few past Cannon Mountain towards the last section of the trail. It is an excellent trail for biking, or just walking. There are quite a few locations with picnic tables if you want to bring a lunch and have a great little picnic spot. Overall it’s an excellent path, and was especially great using electric bikes.

great ride

Wonderful bike trail. Narrow in places so need to watch for walkers and other bikers.

Great way to start a day

Went from the Flume parking area to Skookumchuck and back , this way you get most of the elevation gain done the first half of the ride and get some great downhills to finish up. Spectacular morning ride …

Nice trail with ups and downs but start early morning

I love this trail but usually start before 7 am as when people start walking the trail they don't walk on their side of the trail. Head north from the Flume parking area and the ride is uphill. The ride is fast coming back down south but again beware of people on the trail


Beautiful but really bumpy

Pro - a lot of beautiful scenery. Cons - a fair amount of traffic noise and distraction as you’re usually either going up or down and it takes much of your attention to avoid the uneven pavement.

Awesome ride on ebikes. Late I the fall season so there was no traffic on the trails. Paved and clear, easy ride. Well worth it for the views.

Awesome ride on ebikes. Late I the fall season so there was no traffic on the trails. Paved and clear, easy ride. Well worth it for the views.

Fun trail

The trail is great Awesome views the up hills balance out the down hills. Only issue is a lot of ignorant people that walk 4 abreast and you have to almost stop to get around them. Next trip back I think I’ll bring an air horn ¿¿

fun ride!

Definitely a challenge but so fun! Start at the flume end so you get the hills done in the first half. Beautiful views of the basin and echo lake.

beautiful trail

This trail has lots to see, you can view the Basin, Profile Lake and Echo Lake along with many Mountain Views. Recommended to start at the Flume Gorge parking lot. This will bring you through the most challenging parts of the trail on the front end and you can coast back. Trail is well maintained and not overly crowded.

An Amazing Trail

What a great trail! I agree with one of the other reviews. That the trail is mostly uphill if you start from the Flume; coming back the other way is exhilarating! A couple of tough uphills, but they are short. The views are amazing. One tip: you can get going very fast downhill, but the trail is a bit bumpy so watch your speed, particularly if the trail is wet.

A challenge for sure

This is a very beautiful trail but be forewarned that it is a challenge. If you are used to flat trails this will be tough (but doable). My advice is if you want to get the toughest five miles done first - start at the flume gorge parking lot. After that first five miles i can't promise you that it will be all downhill but it might seem like it .... We walked up 2 or 3 of the hills but we're from flat NJ and NH definitely ain't flat. But again if you want a beautiful trail - as the ad says - just do it!!!!

Two trips in one

We started the ride at the Flume visitor center. The nine mile trip up was challenging with many hills and turns. Had to walk my eBike up one hill. Return trip seemed to be 90% downhill and was a blast, thus we had 2 different rides on the same trail! Lots of great scenery on the way.

A beautiful scenic ride

We rode this trail in late June while staying at Canon Mountain RV park. The views were beautiful. We stopped at scenic spots and found picnic tables for lunch and a card game. Beautiful and well maintained.

Lost trail markers

We enjoyed the climb up from the Flume to the Basin and then on to the Lafayette Campground. We could not find the bike path out of the Lafayette parking lot. Either the sign was missing or someone must have parked in front of it. So we only got halfway to Echo Lake. An enjoyable ride back down picking up a lot of speed.


A nice enough trail, but you could really ride on any trail through the woods and have a better ride, The trail parallels rte 93 so the traffic noise is ubiquitous. Not the riding experience I anticipated, the ride up is a gentle grade, the ride down coasting most of the way, and riding up you don't get any of the spectacular views until you pass the Lafayette camping area, though there are lots of places to stop along the river. This is a well used trail, some might say crowded, but still a good afternoon's ride. Next time, I will just drive to Franconia and ride around on the roads there where I can see the scenery.


Back when I was just a little Kid we Camped at at Lafayette Camp ground and after Dinner we would hike down to the Flume or up to the Old Man of The Mountain and I would think how great it would be to bike this path. I never did but after reading about this trail I will make sure that I ride it on my next trip to N.H.

Many Wonderful Sites Along the Way

The Franconia Notch Bike Trail winds through beautiful woods, with stops at scenic areas such as The Basin (an interesting waterfall), Profile Lake (former location of The Old Man in the Mountain), Cannon Cliffs (amazing rock climbers worth observing), Echo Lake, and Cannon Mountain Ski Area. We have done this in summer and in fall, at peak foliage, and it is spectacular. We like to head north from The Flume parking area, so that the (somewhat, but not steep) uphill grade has the reward of the downhill stretches on the way back. It is paved, with some pedestrian traffic close to the scenic stops. We like to picnic at the Lafayette campground, where there is a picnic table near the trail and next to a small brook.

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