A short hike in the beautiful Flume Gorge in New Hampshire

Last August, my sister-in-law Mireille and I decided to spend a weekend at Franconia Notch State Park in New Hampshire. I’ve been dreaming of hiking in the White Mountains for a long time and I couldn’t wait to visit this park which is a must-visit in the region. We had planned to some mountain hiking, but we thought it might be a good idea to start with an easier hike to stretch our legs, so we headed first to the Flume Gorge.

It should also be said that Flume Gorge is perhaps the most popular attraction at Franconia Notch State Park, so I’m glad we took some time to visit it. The famous gorge is so popular that it is recommended to book your spot in advance to visit it (an entry ticket costs US$18 when purchased online).

Mireille and I arrived about an hour before the site closed, and I thought that would mean the place would be less busy. I was wrong: there were many, many people on the trail. But this was my very first hike in New Hampshire, and my first time exploring the White Mountains region, so there was nothing that could dampen my excitement!

White Mountains
First time hiking in the White Mountains!

Flume Gorge (also known simply as “The Flume”) is a natural gorge whose granite cliffs rise to a height of nearly 27 metres. It is said that the gorge was “discovered” in 1808 by a 93-year-old woman who was looking for a place to fish and that the place appeared to be so extraordinary that she had difficulty convincing other people of its existence.


The Flume Gorge Trail is a 3.5-kilometre loop that begins from the Visitor Centre. The trail first winds through the forest and descends towards the Pemigewasset River (“Pemigewasset” means rapid current in Abenaki), above which there is a covered bridge. This covered bridge dates from 1886, and is one of the oldest in New Hampshire.

The Flume Covered Bridge in Franconia Notch State Park
The trail goes by this beautiful covered bridge

A few metres later we arrived at the Flume Brook and a place called Table Rock, as the flow of the brook had eroded the rock layer to expose the granite surface. In fact, as you go further along the brook, you can start to see the surroundings becoming more and more steep and rocky. Then, at one point, we stepped into the famous gorge.

Trail inside the Flume Gorge
Walking into the Flume Gorge

It seems that The Flume dates from the Jurassic Period, when the Conway granite that forms the walls of the gorge was deeply buried molten rock. As it cooled, the granite fractured in a few places. Columns of lava from deep within the earth penetrated the fractures, forcing them apart. Water, ice and time have continued to shape and widen the gorge, giving it the unique appearance it has today.

Boardwalk in the Flume Gorge
Amazed by what nature can create

Although there were a lot of people on the trail, it was truly magical to walk in the heart of the gorge. Boardwalks and stairs allow you to closely follow the granite walls. At its narrowest point, the gorge is less than 4 metres wide. I felt very small in front of this place sculpted by nature.

Boardwalk in the Flume Gorge
It’s easy to understand why this place is so popular

At the end of the gorge, the trail passes near the beautiful Avalanche Falls, more than 13 metres high. After observing the fall for a few minutes, we reluctantly left the gorge and continued our hike.

Avalanche Falls along the Flume Gorge Trail
The trail goes by Avalanche Falls

And the trail doesn’t end there. After the gorge, the trail continues to present other natural attractions of the sector: the Liberty Gorge, the basins of the Pemigewasset River and several large erratic blocks. We also passed another covered bridge, the Sentinel Pine Bridge, a bridge whose base was built from a large century-old pine tree that fell after a hurricane in the 1930s.


And eventually, the trail brought us back to where we started. We left very satisfied with this quick and easy hike. The Flume Gorge walk is definitely popular and a bit touristy, but it’s easy to understand why.

It was a good first hike at Franconia Notch State Park, and we now felt ready to tackle a more challenging hike the next day: hiking to the top of Mount Lafayette!


    1. I’m sure it was also beautiful on a gray morning! That’s the thing with this place, the nature is so stunning, that it must look beautiful in any season or any weather!

  1. The first time I visited Franconia Notch, I thought the entrance fee into Flume Gorge was outrageous and refused to visit. I’m glad we were able to return as it really is quite scenic. It is insanely busy though. But then again, most attractions in the White Mountains are, especially when the weather is nice.

    1. I felt the same way about the entrance fee, and wasn’t sure at all I wanted to visit it. It just happened we had a bit of time to kill, and decided to check it out and I’m happy we did! Can’t wait to go back to the White Mountains, it’s such a beautiful region!

  2. I’m planning a trip to Franconia Notch State Park and I’m interested in visiting the Flume Gorge. I read that it’s a popular spot and that it’s recommended to book your spot in advance. How early in advance should I book my tickets? And is there anything else I should know before visiting?

    1. We actually booked our spot only a few minutes before getting there, and there were still places available (even though we were there on a sunny Saturday). It might be worth checking in advance of the day you are planning to go there how much tickets are left for the different spots throughout the day and how fast they seem to go, which could help you with your planning (you can check on Reserve America here: https://www.reserveamerica.com/explore/flume-gorge/NH/274351/overview). There is also a visitor centre on site, with a gift shop, restrooms and a café. Franconia Notch is a beautiful state park, I hope you’ll enjoy your visit!

    1. I wasn’t 100% sure I would visit it since you have to book in advance, but I’m glad we did! It was really stunning! 🙂

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