Flume and Liberty via Osseo Trail

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I enjoyed this route up to Mt Flume and then Liberty. This was my first time going up Osseo Trail. It started out at the Lincoln Woods Trailhead which I was expecting to be crowded. It was a beautiful Sunday morning and the Highland Games were at Loon. There were plenty of parking spaces open so I zipped in. I dropped off my money and hung my tag and across the bridge I went.
The Lincoln Woods Trail is an old logging railroad bed from years past. It is wide and flat for a few miles. I only took this for 1.4 miles to the Osseo Trail junction. Veering left onto the Osseo Trail, the trail narrows and is filled with character. Some of the early changing leaves were already on the ground and made for a nice walk. For the first 2 miles, the trail slowly climbs on sidewalk-like footing. There is some gain, not too subtle, along this stretch. At the end of those 2 miles, the terrain changes rather suddenly. There are a series of switchbacks. This is somewhat of a foreign concept in the White Mountains, but these are just a few short switchs to get up some steeper sections. Not too far later, there are a few sections of stairs, likely more to aid in erosion prevention than to assist with the climb. Nevertheless, they are helpful and in great shape.
There are a couple fantastic lookout points along the climb which make for a sweet rest spot and snack. Not long after the stairs, the elevation levels off as you follow the bend up on the ridge for just shy of a half mile. It’s a nice breather before the final push up to pop out onto the rocky ledge.
That first poke out of the trees always gets me. The views across to the Kinsmans and up to Mt Liberty are spectacular. The trail follows the trees around with the sharp drops not more than a step away. It’s wide enough not to induce any issues/fears.
The final steps up the rocky ledge to the summit of Mt Flume present a nice reward. Near 360 degree views, from the Kinsmans, Mt Liberty and the rest of the Franconia ridge, and around into the Pemigewasset Wilderness. I took a brief rest here for some water and a snack. The weather was amazing and skies clear. The traverse to Mt Liberty is a mild drop into the col and back up. It feels much easier than it is and goes by rather quickly.
The last 50 feet up Mt Liberty is a bit of a scramble around large boulders. Reaching the summit exposes a 360 degree view with an impressive feature in each direction. Mt Liberty is one of my all time favorite summits with it’s amazing views and jagged rocky outcroppings. I sat and ate some grub on top, alone for a few minutes, before a couple folks caught up to me. They were on the final stretch of a clockwise Pemi loop back to Skookumchuck. I enjoyed a nice conversation with them before they head toward Liberty Spring for some water. Not long after, a couple girls came up on their last stretch of a Pemi loop, counterclockwise.
I considered going toward Mt Lafayette, but I didn’t bring a filter or have enough water. The air was still and humid so I didn’t want to press too far without ample fluid. I finished up my photos and chow and started on my return back over Mt Flume.
Again the col between peaks is an easy traverse and soon enough I was back on Mt Flume. There was a large crowd gathered on the subpeak enjoying photo opportunities. I dipped down into the woods, passing the junction of the Flume Slide trail again. Just beyond that, a woman was sitting with her dog. She was stretching her leg and appeared to be struggling a little. Her leg had tightened up. I offered her some Gatorade powder and an energy shot to help out. She assured me she would be ok so I continued on my descent.
I navigated back to the stairs and switchbacks taking care where needed. When I reached the end of the switchbacks and back on the mild long straight lower sections, I was feeling good. I tightened up my pack and started to jog down the sidewalk like decline. It went by quickly as there very few people on this stretch and the footing is great. In no time, I reached the junction of Lincoln Woods Trail. I continued running on it as well, but tired not long after the junction. It was a nice walk back to the suspension bridge and the parking lot.
I was back to my car early as I started out early. So I made the decision to pop into the famed Mountain Wanderer book store. I wanted to grab the 30th Edition White Mountain Guide while I was there. I picked one up and found the owner ringing me up was also the author. I had a brief chat with him and he oozed with fantastic history of the trails and area. I plan to stop in again for a few more items I saw in there.
It was a nice day to be in the mountains.

Surprisingly, the Lincoln Woods lot was not full at 0700
This is a popular start for many, or all, of the Pemigewasset Wilderness summits
The iconic suspension bridge at Lincoln Woods trailhead
View of the Pemigewasset River from the Lincoln Woods bridge
The Kancamagus Highway overpass and cloud skimming Black Mountain
The only way to go.. right turn Clyde.
Only need to cover 1.4 miles of the Lincoln Woods trail, but it’s very flat and straight
The early turning leaves falling already
The sun still low over the Pemi
History of the logging activity from years gone by
Jumping on the Osseo Trail
Lots of leaf cover in spots
The lower portion of Osseo Trail runs along a brook
The lower couple miles of the Osseo Trail are a steady climb with great footing
A little rooty in a couple places
The first views peeking through the trees
The stairs begin. They are in good shape and not too steep
Looking back down a steep pitch
A couple more stair cases. Could refer to them as ladders, but these are laying well
A step down to a beautiful outlook
Glimpse toward the summit framed by some early yellows
A view looking toward the eastern Pemi summits
A few more stairs. This trail is well maintained and much erosion avoided
Cute smokey blue mushrooms
Junction of the Flume Slide Trail. Just a short .1 mile to the summit
4.1 miles down, .1 mile to the first summit
Climbing out of the trees
Always amazing popping out of the trees
The summit of Mt Flume
The trail up skirts the trees around the drop off
Mt Liberty on the left is the next summit. Little Haystack and Mt Lafayette are in the small cloud
Little Haystack left and Mount Garfield in the center
A couple arriving out of the trees and taking in the vista
Dropping down to the col between Mt Flume and Mt Liberty
Traversing the col between Mt Flume and Mt Liberty is relatively mild
Approaching the ledgey summit of Mt Liberty
Cannon Mountain and Little Haystack in view. Between them is Franconia Notch
Looking back to Mt Flume and I believe Whaleback on the right
From Mt Liberty, Little Haystack on the left, Mount Garfield the pointy one in the center, the large hump in near center is Owls Head
Resting a while on Mt Liberty with Cannon Mountain behind me
A couple descending Mt Flume to continue their ‘fancy’ Pemi Loop back to Skookumchuck Trail
After doubling back to Mt Flume, a large group gathers at the overlook for some photos
A last look back at the Franconia Ridge
A better view of Hardwood Ridge with some early fall colors
On the way down, I stop at the downlook and take in eastern Pemi ridges
Owls Head, South Twin, Guyot and the 3 Bonds summits
Large birch holding on, but not very well
After a brief trail run down the easy grade of the lower section of Osseo I return to the leaf covered stretch
Back at the junction of Osseo and Lincoln Woods trails
The long return walk
A brightly colored caterpillar scoots down the trail.
With the sun high just before 1300, the Pemi River is brightly flowing
Puffy clouds in the distance along the Lincoln Woods Trail
Returning to the Lincoln Woods suspension bridge
Gently curved Lincoln Woods suspension bridge

Still sitting at 47 of 48

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