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The Flume in Franconia Notch

Last month, I took my wife up to North Conway for a little vacation. She hasn’t spent much time in the White Mountains and wanted to see some of the places where I hike. We drove up to the top of Mt Washington on the Auto Road, toured the Kancamagus Highway, visited a few waterfalls, hung out in Pinkham Notch and Crawford Notch, and spent our evenings supping at The Moat. The grand tour, on a budget.

The Flume, Franconia Notch
The Flume, Franconia Notch

We also took in The Flume, one of the few places in the White Mountains where you need to pay to see Mother Nature. This kind of thing galls me, but my wife lets me pursue my backpacking obsession with little grief and on this trip, my job was to show her the sights. To be honest, I enjoyed myself on this trip, even though I didn’t get very dirty!

The Flume is a natural gorge 800 feet long at the base of Mt Liberty, one of the White Mountain 400o footers. The walls of the gorge are 90 feet high and vary in width from 12 to 20 feet.  Visitors can walk through the gorge on a boardwalk and view the cascades running below.

The boardwalk leads to Avalanche Falls at the top of the Flume Gorge. This is a 45 foot waterfall that creates the roaring sound you hear when you enter the gorge. It’s a pretty view and a pleasant place to stand on a hot day.

Sentinel Pine Bridge
Sentinel Pine Bridge

Once you get to the top of the Flume, you can continue walking down to the Sentinel Pine Bridge, which was the high point of the day for me (I see a lot of waterfalls in the Whites.) The bridge overlooks a deep pool that is 40 feet deep and 150 wide, surrounded by 130 foot cliffs. It’s a peaceful place, past where most of the other tourists walk, and I lingered soaking in the view.

This bridge is built on top of a 175 foot pine tree that fell across the ravine in 1938, bridging the two sides. One of the largest trees in New Hampshire, it had a circumference of 16 feet. The bridge you see here was built on top of it, although it’s reinforced with cables today.

There are some other things to see at the Flume which I recommend including the small museum on the path up to the gorge.  Be forewarned, you need to walk about 2 miles up to the Flume and back on well groomed gravels trails. There are some steep parts, so be sure to wear proper walking shoes when you visit.

3 comments

  1. How many days and about what budget ($) would you think appropriate for this little get away? My GF is not a fan of the outdoors either. Thx.

  2. 3/2 nights days and about $400 bucks, including gas. Stayed at the Colonial in North Conway ($70/night) and ate at the Moat, which is not expensive and has fine beer.

  3. I usually don't mind having to pay to get into the few things like this in an area where so much is free. Of course, I've never been to the Flume, and I tend to stay away from the areas that aren't free because I'm usually on a tight budget myself. But I find that places that cost a bit are the places that are really worth it. Or, as the Green Mountain Club does it, they're the places where a small fee cuts down on the crowds a little bit.

    The Flume does look pretty rockin, and I like the idea of bringing people who aren't big hikers to places like that. I keep thinking I should bring my grandparents to something like that soon. Or drive up Mansfield or Washington, or… so many options.

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