We spend a ton of time in Lincoln Woods. It’s 5 minutes from the house, there are plenty of places the dog likes to walk, and it can be flat and easy. It’s also insanely picturesque in very accessible spots. We’re here so much, I take it for granted.
After we returned from the more than a month long “great Colorado/Dallas/Kentucky sojourn” we ended up with a duct taped bumper, thousands of new miles on the car, and a burning desire to return to Colorado immediately. I figured it was time to explore the most basic of things that attracted us to NH before really deciding if leaving the North East was something I wanted to do. So, I ran 7.5 miles in a place I see every day. It turns out, it’s pretty special up here too.
The Lincoln Woods trail starts traversing the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River on what the wife and I call Selfie Bridge. It’s a gorgeous little spot right off the parking lot, so bus loads of tourists take selfies on the bridge all day, every day, hence the name. I run, walk, or hike past this spot daily and somehow lost my appreciation for it. We have pictures from when I first discovered the Whites taking pictures off the bridge and selfies with the wife. At some point I started scoffing at people doing the same. Fuckin tourists. I mean, they don’t really appreciate this place right? I’m not a tourist…I moved here a whole year ago!
Once you get over Selfie Bridge (did you take a selfie?) it’s a straight shot into the wilderness. That’s actually pretty literal. The Lincoln Woods trail is a former railroad bed for the East Branch and Lincoln Railroad and like most places in the forest, was a logging camp in the late 1800’s. That means that you have a very flat, very straight trail that has, at most, a gentle uphill. It’s perfect for a good long run in the woods.
Along the trail there are several spots to stop and look around (and take more photos). The trail follows the East Branch for a good three miles over hundreds of old railroad ties before you cross over the river again and into the Pemigewasset Wilderness. From there, the Bonds, Galehead, Garfield, and the Franconia ridge all make up the Pemi Loop and are open to you, so long as you have the feet to traverse it. Hell, if you wanted to, you could connect with the AT and walk to Georgia, all from this parking lot 5 minutes from town.
Figuring I would save the 30+ miles of the Pemi Loop for another day, I went to Franconia Falls. Just before you cross the bridge into the wilderness you can hang a quick left for a short single track run/hike out to a small waterfall. Because of the ludicrous amount of rainfall the past week, the falls were humming along. The best part, I got out early enough to be the only person enjoying the sights.
This is where Lincoln Woods really shines, and it does so just for the people who live here. Because of where we live, we can get up early on any weekday and walk, run, or hike, to this:
As I said before, we spend an ungodly amount of time this trail. I ran more than I expected on this day, but it refilled my appreciation for this trail in particular. I’ve walked it at the end of a nasty and brutally mind numbing hike at the end of a 13 hour out and back 18 mile slog of Owls Head. I’ve hiked it to to the gentle uphill and amazing views of Mt Flume. But I haven’t really looked at it the same way since we came up here in 2009.
It’s close, and it can be full, but it’s amazing just the same. There’s solitude to be found in the Lincoln Woods trails leading to most of the major attractions, if you know where and most importantly when to look. To be fair, even at it’s most full, it’s less crowded than most Rocky Mountain National Park Trails.
The comparison between RMNP and the WMNF are really something I need to do. Am I idealizing RMNP because it’s a new place? We saw tons of great things out on the trails in Colorado, but they were packed to the gills with other people most of the time. Were they truly better than what is right out the door? I’m still not sure. I had a new experience in an old (for me) place today and it shows how much this area still has to offer me. Still, somewhere in the back of my head there’s a voice that says: but you only climbed one 14er…
Up next…Mt Washington.