The Flume Gorge, A Tale of Misadventure

The Flume Gorge in Franconia, New Hampshire is one of Mother Nature’s Gems and like so many of her wonders, it takes a little effort on our part if we want to experience it to its fullest.

The Gorge is located in Franconia Notch State Park so is well maintained by the park service. The visitor center has some wonderful displays that range from a stage-coach

 to a huge display of two bull moose locked in combat.

This display is for real. A hunter found the remains of the two moose in the woods. They got their antlers locked during combat. When the victor was unable to free himself they both ended up dying.

 A very sad end but that’s the way it is in nature sometimes.

 The trail is a two-mile hike that leads you down into the gorge to experience the 90 ft walls towering up on either side of you.

 Much of the trail through the gorge is a boardwalk and there are many, many stairs.

 The walking can be slippery and when there is an uphill ramp, slats are nailed to the boardwalk to give hikers traction.

The walk can be strenuous but benches are strategically placed to let tired hikers catch their breath before moving on.

I do not remember ever going to this gorge before. I have hiked other ones as a child but nothing like this as an adult so here’s where I made my first mistake. I did not realize how narrow or long the trail was. I did wear hiking boots. (Best decision I made this day) and I took my trusty Mono-pod for the camera and , I must confess, it makes a super sturdy walking stick. But then I decided to take my tripod too. I had high hopes of capturing some of the falls with a long exposure and I didn’t trust myself to be steady with just the mon-pod.

It was quite a warm day. There were some clouds and the threat of a passing shower but in the gorge there was a cool breeze as the air moved over the cold water. All was going well until just before Avalanche Falls. The boardwalk slants upward and there were quite a few people in front of me leaning out to take pictures. I propped the mono-pod up against the railing and set the folded tripod down at my feet so I could hold the camera out to try for a picture. Somehow the mono-pod came loose from the railing and fell into the gorge before I could grab it.

It landed grip down and pointed back up but slanted away from the boardwalk. It was just out of my reach. A couple of men stopped but after a half-hearted effort they just said “Too far-Too bad”. Finally I got down on my hands and knees. I took the tripod out of its carry case and then I took the case and used its strap to lasso the end of the mono-pod. Slowly I pulled it toward me until I could just grab the tip. Success!

Now I scrambled to my feet, stuffed the tripod back in the case and headed off as quick as I could. I was worried who might have seen that little mishap. The only people to mention it was a nice couple that I had talked to earlier. Turned out they were the ones behind me on the trail and their only comments was to laugh and say “That was quite a picture!”

Ok so back on track. I was so glad to have the monopod back because my legs were really starting to protest all the uphill walking. I finally reached the top so the return trip should have been all downhill, right? Well that was my next mistake.

There were 2 trails back to the visitor center. One was the Rim Trail which follows the rim of the gorge back to Boulder Cabin where a shuttle bus will pick you up and take you back. The other trail was the “forest trail” or something like that. I selected that one. After all, why see the same sights. Going back a different way would just let me see new things. I’d still be going downhill, right?

WRONG! There were some pretty views of the gorge and some waterfalls and I did get to use the tripod at one of the waterfalls. The sign said it was a 100 ft cascade. But bottom line, it was much longer and it had a lot of uphill as well as down.

The literature said it was about 1- 1.5 hours round trip. OMG! It took me 3 hours round trip. It showed me just how out of shape I really am. No chance of kidding myself now.  It also taught me to open my mouth and ask what the conditions are like. Will there be room for tripods and so on. I could have lightened my load considerably as I only used 1 lens the whole time and only used the tripod once. My backpack with extra lenses and the tripod could have stayed in the car.

I do plan to go back and do this again but not til I’ve spent a few months working on a treadmill! I did meet many others who were not carrying anything that were huffing and puffing their way along. And I met some later at Cannon Mountain that said they were afraid they couldn’t get through it at all so they weren’t even going to try.That comment  was from a woman in her early 40’s so I guess I don’t feel quite so bad.

I still think it was beautiful, worth every drop of sweat and sore muscles! I can imagine what it must have been like to see it all alone and enjoy the pristine tranquility to the sound of rushing water. With all of the lush greenery it looks so primal; maybe even Lost World or Jurassic Park ish. I guess I am just selfish but it would be nice to sit on the bench near Avalanche Falls and be the only one there…just for a little while. 🙂

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0 Responses to The Flume Gorge, A Tale of Misadventure

  1. Rachel Tedesco says:

    I remember going there MANY years ago as a camper… maybe age 11. And remember trying to pass through a very narrow rocky gorge, where I almost got stuck! You were able to bypass that part at least or I’m sure you would have mentioned it. I must congratulate you on surviving this trek and thank you for giving us such lovely photos. Brings back great memories!

    • Dusty Roads says:

      You have a good memory. I bet you’re thinking of a little side trail called the Wolves’ Den. It’s very narrow and I didn’t even try it. I saw some other hikers going through it and they came out talking about how tight it was. They had to take off back packs and pass them through first to make it through. The area is really beautiful but for me, I’m glad I stuck to the main trail. I’ll leave the narrow trails to the youngsters. 🙂

  2. Sandra says:

    Beautiful as usual. Three hours for a 1-1.5 hour hike? Sounds like the one on Oahu that was only 15 minutes. LOL You do just fine with your hiking. Besides you should tell people your sight seeing. 🙂 , and want to take your time to enjoy every thing.

    • Dusty Roads says:

      I was definitely sight-seeing LOL. I refuse to think it might be age. I ‘m sure it’s just being out of shape ans that I can dom something about! It was beauitiful, that’s for sure.

  3. Very nice. Reminds me of our recent trek to the Niobrara River. Thanks for sharing.

  4. natasiarose says:

    Awesome pics! Totally worth it. Also, now I know that nature can be scary. Locked together until death? That’s so hardcore.

  5. Harold says:

    Beautiful pics of nature at its best! Congrats on being FP!

  6. mffanrodders says:

    That looks absolutely stunning. My favourite holiday memory was whan i was about 10 years old and my parents to us to the Devils Cauldron in Devon. Incredible. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing those photos and congratulations on being freshly pressed.

  7. bercton says:

    Interesting photos! Thanks for sharing!

  8. As brutal as the trek was, I’m glad you think it was worth it…and I’m glad that you shared your photos so I don’t have to take that hike! 😉

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed, by the way!

  9. Now you gotta write a post about cliff jumping! Lol

  10. Lindsay says:

    Oh my goodness I want to GO THERE! Thanks for sharing these. 🙂

  11. leadinglight says:

    The trek reminds me of the 1000 Steps in Australia. It’s based on the wartime Kokoda track and is used extensively for fitness boot camps. Not quite as picturesquue though. The steps there are not a boardwalk; it has been carved in.Sadly, no waterfalls. Actually in terms of waterfalls, Australia lacks decent ones. I suppose I say this because I’ve seen the majestic waterfalls of Sri Lankan hill country.

  12. Nice photos, cute take on your experience. We enjoyed it.

  13. Stunning visuals…I don’t suppose you know how much it would cost to buy a house nearby? 😀

  14. Looks amazing!! would love to go there sometime! Hopefully I’ll get to travel soon…. Great post by the way 🙂

  15. Beautiful area and beautiful pics. You did not need a stairmaster after this adventure:) Congrats on being FP!

  16. Kymlee says:

    Congrats on getting freshly Pressed… also! OMG I haven’t been here in so long! I’m from New Hampshire and although I know live in Georgia, this is one of the many places in Northern NH that I hold dear to my heart. My father used to take us up North for all sorts of wonderful adventures, like the Flume, the polar caves, Loon Mountain… all of that lovely stuff. Glad to see a post about one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. Great Job!

    Kymlee ♥

    • Dusty Roads says:

      Thank you! I didn’t get to the polar caves and I drove by Loon mountain. Just not enough time in one week. I have friends who live in Georgia and I’ve had a chacne to visit a couple of time. Stone Mountain is pretty cool too.

  17. trialsinfood says:

    gorgeous! you’re right, hidden gems are worth the effort!

  18. I love the quality of your photos and how succinctly you captured the best moments of your trip. Congratulations on being FPed!

  19. MauOscar says:

    Really nice..

    Yesterday I was planning my trip to New England during Foliage and found this Place and today i saw yor post here on WordPress..
    Thanks for sharing.. I’ll definatelly to go there… 😀

  20. Great post, wonderful pictures. This has gone on my list of places to visit.

  21. baligins says:

    Stunning! This is definitely a location I’d like to put on my list of “must-visits!”

  22. Karyn Gitlis says:

    Thanks for sharing your trip. I enjoyed it second hand and would definitely think about going though I would have to make the trip from Arizona.

    • Dusty Roads says:

      I love Arizona. I’ve been to Sedona twice and of course the Grand Canyon. I’m thinking that I need to explore southern Arizona and the Saguaro National Park (Forest?) next time I head west.

  23. I would love to go there! Next time I’m back in good ole New England…I’m planting myself there. Equipped with hiking boots and water! Thanks for the heads up!!

  24. Um…WOW! What a spectacular place…


    I’ve always thought there’s something truly magical about New England. Your post confirms this!

  25. ournote2self says:

    Beautiful pictures! Looks like an amazing place. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  26. Love the Flume. My fiance and I will be heading there shortly along with the polar caves!

    • Dusty Roads says:

      Have a great time. I didn’t get to the polar caves this trip. I’ll have to try to get there next time and Clarks’s Trading Post. I’m told that’s a great place too.

  27. aka gringita says:

    Congrats on Fresh Pressing!
    What beautiful photos! I went there as a kid… I have vivid memories of the booklet of postcards and leather-purse-embossed-with-the-wagon (both purchased at the gift shop, neither in existence any longer), and my parents have a photo or two of the gorge stairs. It would be nice if I had any actual memories of BEING there. Ah well… youth! 🙂

    • Dusty Roads says:

      Thank you. Glad you liked the pictures. It was fun taking them. They still have a fairly large gift shop. Maybe you’ll get a chacne for a visit now that you’re grown and make new memories.

  28. Michael says:

    OMG – so beautiful!

  29. Eva McCane says:

    wow! beautiful! i’d love to visit myself. thanks for the new travel idea.

  30. I love the waterfall photos. This place truly looks like a piece of heaven. Being a Canadian living in Ireland (which is a beautiful country too), it always amazes me how lucky we are/were to live/have lived in North America. There is so much breathtaking beauty there, that would be considered top tourist attractions in some countries, but to us, these places are a dime a dozen (kinda)! Thanks for making me think of the beauty of my homeland.

    • Dusty Roads says:

      I haven’t had the opportunity to see much of your country. Years ago I took a raft trip on the Rive Rouge outside of Montreal. I ahve always wanted to take the train through the Canadian Rockies. They are so majestic. I understand Ireland is a beautiful country too.
      To paraphase : So much to see, so little time 🙂 Glad you enjoyed my post.

  31. ecodolphin says:

    You had built in walkways, just think about what it must have been like for the native Indians hundreds of years ago. You take great pictures, I felt like I was getting wet just looking at them.

    • Dusty Roads says:

      You are so right about the natives. I wonder if the went into the gorge or treated it as a sacred space? Of course if they could live in the Grand Canyon then I imagine native people could find away to live anywhere.

  32. Errign says:

    Congratulations on being freshly pressed – I was featured on Monday & swung over today to return some of the love I received from comments. I live in New Hampshire normally, though I’m currently located in Asheville, NC & the Flume is one of my favorite adventure spots. I actually work in Lincoln and drive bike tour groups past the Flume for most of the summer. Glad you enjoyed yourself & the workout.

    • Dusty Roads says:

      I did. It’s beautiful. Shame on me for letting myself go so out of shape. LOL. As one reader I don’t need the stairmaster 🙂

  33. I had a similar thing happen to me recently. Knowing nothing about hiking but wanting to Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania, I spent 5 hours wandering the woods with my teenage son, certain that I might go into cardiac arrest at any moment. EVERY trail was up hill or even worse, painted rock climbs. (I’m talking serious vertical climbs.) There was no way out but through. I couldn’t believe I had gotten myself into a situation I was so unprepared for. Once we were safe we actually laughed about it. Thanks for sharing your story. It made me think of that funny day when I decided to be a nature Mom.

    • Dusty Roads says:

      Thanks for the way I could ever do a vertical rock climb! Maybe 30 years ago LOL. Congrats to you and your son for making it. What memories you have now!

  34. 300hikes says:

    This looks like an incredible place to visit. I recently took a backpacking trip through the Columbia Gorge in Oregon. The trail is actually carved out of the walls of the gorge, and at one point travels behind a waterfall.

    I wrote a post about it if you care to see:

    • Dusty Roads says:

      I loved your post about the Columbia Gorge. Sounds like it was a bit longer and more strenuous than the Flume. Your pictures are great. When I get to Oregon (I’m trying to go to all 50 states) I’ll see if I’m up to a hike like that. I’d love to do it.

  35. Patti Ross says:

    Congrats on being FPed again!

  36. Infin-T says:

    Beautiful pictures. I greatly enjoyed that hike & I was/am out of shape when I did it 6 years ago w/ my kids. I totally want to go back. I was sucking air at times, but we were in no rush and took our time. Thanks for sharing your trip.

  37. Wow…I was in New Hampshire a couple months ago and planned to hike the Flume Gorge but ended up at Mt. Washington instead…these pictures are awesome and make me regret not going!

  38. Fergus Ford says:

    Very nice Dusty – enjoyed the photos and story very much. Very relieved you were able to save your monopod!

  39. Dan says:

    Wow!! Looks very beautiful there! Thanks for sharing your photos! 😉

  40. Great shots. I have been there and it’s really amazing. I agree about the long walk, but it’s still 100% worth it.

  41. Great tour! Beautiful view! I want to be there soon!!

  42. vbrekkidd80 says:

    Great photography, looks like a place I’d like to check out and the rustic bridges definitely look great. As I’m more visual it helps to see what the park is like in pictures! Thanks for sharing!

  43. I’m glad you were able to retrieve your equipment safely. It looks lovely and unforgettable.

    • Dusty Roads says:

      I’m glad for two reasons, 1: I didn’t want to lose it and 2: it didn’t look right in that beautiful setting…It marred the landscape so I had to get it out of there.

  44. Friv games says:

    Great to travel…nice blog!

  45. novelfish says:

    Beautiful place!!! Getting so close to nature must have been real refreshing!! I would love to get away from city life and spend sometime hiking through that place.
    Also, the 2guys with with antlers locked in each other was an interesting exhibit. Enjoyed reading your post! Looking forward to more!

    • Dusty Roads says:

      When I travel I look for nature. Some people look for the cities and market places. Everyone is different but something inside me needs the beauty of nature even if it can be harsh as illustrated by those 2 Moose.

  46. Great to travel…good picture!

  47. That staircase looked wicked scary. I’d be too afraid on some of these parts!!

  48. Lovepeehs05 says:

    So beautiful pictures and looked very peaceful place!

  49. madelincwolf says:

    I remember going to Franconia Notch as a child; then I lived in Raymond. I don’t think we walked the whole thing since my grandparents were with us. I vaguely remember a spot of swirling water and a feature possibly named the Devil’s Foot. I now live in CA and do miss the summers there (but not the winters). Congrats on being Freshly Pressed and for on posting lots of great pictures to stir my memories.

    • Dusty Roads says:

      I stayed in Raymond one summer. I stayed at a camp ground up there from May until they closed in October. It was a great summer even if I did have to commute for work. I don’t remember anything named Devil’s Foot but it could be that the sign was down or it might have been when I was huffing and puffing so much that I missed it. I agree about the winters. They can be pretty tough.

  50. Oh this is lovely! I have visited a gorge too, last weekend in Finland, it wasn’t so spectacular, but the hike was great. Thank you for sharing those lovely photos 🙂

  51. Petra says:

    Beautiful pictures!
    By the way, this is my favorite WordPress template; I use it, too. 🙂

  52. I remember squeezing through the Wolves’ Den when I was a child and then we took our kids there in the 1980s. Don’t think I could do it today! Beautiful pictures! When I was little I decided that I was going to be married at the Flume Gorge, but that dream never materialized… Glad you managed to retrieve your mono-pod!

    • Dusty Roads says:

      Maybe you could have a renew you vows ceremony there. It’s certainkly a beautiful setting. I saw the wolves den but didn’t even try LOL. I didn’t want to be a “rescue”. I’m glad I got the monopod out too. It just didn’t go with the ambience. 🙂

  53. huffygirl says:

    Beautiful photos of the gorge. I would have liked to see one of you carrying all the gear you spoke about, and rescueing your equipment though!

    • Dusty Roads says:

      Ha Ha That would have been funny! I actually thought of taking a picture of the monopod sticking up out of the gorge but I was afraid it might come loose and be lost for good so I didn’t take the time. I just attempted the retrieval which, thankfully, worked out but you’ve given me an idea for a future post. Thnaks 🙂

  54. annedearle says:

    Very impressive pictures. I was so glad to have the opportunity to see them. Thank you.

  55. Lonnie says:

    Wonderful images! I feel like I was on the hike with you. Will put this on the list of places to visit soon.
    Thanks and congrats on the FP!

  56. metventure says:

    Been to the Flumes every time I go o NH. I wouldn’t miss it! Beautiful pics! Hey, did you take a dip in the Kank? Also awesome

    • Dusty Roads says:

      I sure thought about it. The day I drove the Kank it was close to 100..very hot for the mountains and it was impossible to find any place to pull off and park. I was going to try again later in the week but just didn’t get back thre.

  57. RLTJ's says:

    “The walking can be slippery and when there is an uphill ramp, slats are nailed to the boardwalk to give hikers traction.”

    And there should be a sign that reads: “Danger! Watch out for Flash-flood when it is raining hard.”

  58. One of my all time favorite spots…. Flume Gorge! Also great in that area… the areas along I-93 through Franconia Notch where you can park and hike (for free).

  59. giftogab says:

    Very Nice! I miss the Green of th Pacific Northwest as I reside in teh Desert Southwest seeing all this wonderful Northern color lowered my temperature by 10 degrees!

  60. rubiescorner says:

    Nice writing and it was worth the effort. Right? The pictures were wonderful. Sounds like a wonderful place. I would want to go when the weather is a little cooler!

    • Dusty Roads says:

      Oh it was worth it all right. And the nice thing is that in the gorge itself it was cool. There was a breeze and the cold water acted like an air conditioner on the air.

  61. I love the Flume! ….I think the water and walls of the gorge are a magical spot…especially when there are fewer people there. I use photos that I’ve taken from the water, walls, roots etc in lots of “pages” that I make for myself….here’s one here…kind of funny that I used the walls as a background for reminding me to take a “wee break from worrying”… : ) I hope you go back and are able to take it slowly and quietly. Each time we go back it seems to get more special!

  62. gaycarboys says:

    breathtaking. I don’t think I’d have like to have gone far in the stage coach. Your bum would have been in a terrible shape by the time ypou got where you’re going. The walkway by the waterfall is amazing too. Thanks.

  63. Thanks for the memories and the great pics! I visited the Flume with my family back in the Fifties when I was just a girl and never huffed and puffed. 🙂 Having been brought up in Brooklyn, I had never seen anything like it. That same weekend, I also got to see my first rainbow – what magic for a little girl! That was also where I got to see The Old Man in The Mountain rock formation (sadly fallen down in recent years). A wonderful trip that I will never forget.

    • Dusty Roads says:

      That sounds like an awesome memory! I doubt I’d have been huffing and puffing as a youngster either but lots of extra poinds and all those added years, well it was a combo that really slowed me down. Working on the pounds part but can’t turn back the clock. 🙂

  64. I like Your Article about The Flume Gorge, A Tale of Misadventure | aroundustyroads Perfect just what I was searching for! .

  65. Dusty Roads says:

    Reblogged this on aroundustyroads and commented:

    Bad weather and bureaucracy have stolen my blogging time this week. I thought I’d Share one of my most popular posts from the past . This was once “Freshly Pressed” I hope you enjoy the repeat.