Note: For complete trail descriptions, times, elevation, trailhead directions, and major features, see the AMC White Mountain Guide or try our new White Mountain Guide Online.
Mt. Lafayette (5,260 feet) represents the highest peak in the Franconia Ridge and, from the summit, offers a stunning view of the Pemigewasset Wilderness Area.
Strenuous: The most common route to Lafayette’s summit is via Greenleaf Hut, using the Old Bridle Path and Greenleaf Trail. The Skookumchuck Trail may also be used to reach Mt. Lafayette by way of the Garfield Ridge Trail. The Garfield Ridge and Franconia Ridge Trails, both popular and scenic, intersect at the summit of Mt. Lafayette.
The AMC’s Greenleaf Hut is located at the junction of the Old Bridle Path and Greenleaf Trail, overlooking Eagle Lake. The hut is open from mid-May to mid-October (caretaker basis in May), offering meals and overnight accommodations.
The AMC’s Hiker Shuttle stops at the Old Bridle Path Trailhead, connecting with The Highland Center and Lafayette Place Campground.
Safety in Summer and early Fall
The AMC recommends all hikers check weather conditions in advance, carry a current map and guidebook, along with a compass and knowledge of how to use it. For recommendations on how to plan a safe hike in the White Mountains, see: The 10 essentials for a safe and pleasant hike.
Winter Hiking on Mt. Lafayette
Winter hiking anywhere in the White Mountains requires specialized equipment and skills, and experience in coping with weather, navigation, and winter gear. Extremely severe storms can develop suddenly and unexpectedly, especially above treeline. The combination of high wind and low temperatures has such a cooling effect that the worst conditions on Mt. Lafayette are approximately equal to the worst reported from Antarctica, despite the much greater cold in the latter region. Hikers interested in extending their activities into winter are strongly advised to seek out organized trips with leaders who have extensive winter experience. Several AMC chapters offer winter hiking and backpacking instruction, and AMC offers several guided winter mountaineering trips; search for "Instruction" in AMC's activity listings. Helpful information can also be found in the AMC Guide to Winter Hiking and Camping.
Note: Franconia Ridge is extremely susceptible to high winds and bad weather, and is particularly exposed and prone to severe lightning strikes. Hikers are advised to pay particular attention to weather conditions for the area and avoid the ridgecrest on Mts. Lafayette, Lincoln and Little Haystack when storms approach.
Originally called “Great Haystack,” Mt. Lafayette was renamed to honor the Marquis de Lafayette’s assistance in the War of Independence.