Black Pond and Franconia Falls

Destinations:  Black Pond (1590'), Franconia Falls
Trails:  Lincoln Woods Trail, Black Pond Trail, Franconia Falls Trail
Region:  NH - Central East  
White Mountain National Forest, Pemigewasset Wilderness
Location:  Lincoln, NH
Rating:  Easy  
Features:  Pond, cascades, views, river, brooks
Distance:  8.0 miles  
Elevation Gain:  500 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Typical: 4:15  
Outing Duration:  Typical: 6:30  
Season:  Spring
Hike Date:  05/12/2007 (Saturday)  
Last Updated:  10/01/2009  
Weather:  Sunny, 60 degrees
Author:  Webmaster
Companions:  SDHers: Mark, Faye, Claudette, Jim, Jack, Holly, Deb

Black Pond (photo by Webmaster) Route Summary   

This is an easy hike to the picturesque Black Pond and Franconia Falls. Much of the trail runs along the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River.

  • Start on Lincoln Woods Trail which is to the left of the visitor center.
  • Walk on this nearly level trail for 2.6 miles, passing the junction with Osseo Trail on the left after 1.4 miles.
  • Turn left and follow Black Pond Trail for 0.8 mile to Black Pond which is on the right.
  • Retrace your steps on Black Pond Trail to return to Lincoln Woods Trail.
  • Turn left and continue 0.2 mile along Lincoln Woods Trail to the Franconia Falls Trail junction which is shortly before Franconia Brook where there is a long footbridge on the main trail.
  • Turn left and follow Franconia Falls Trail for 0.4 mile, enjoying the falls and cascades on Franconia Brook.
  • When you reach a sign that says "end of trail", turn around and retrace your steps for 0.4 mile back to Lincoln Woods Trail.
  • Turn right and retrace your steps on Lincoln Woods Trail for 2.8 miles all the way back to the parking lot.

Place         Split
Lincoln Woods Trailhead (1160') 0.0 0.0
Jct. Lincoln Woods Trail / Black Pond Trail (1410') 2.6 2.6
Black Pond (1590') 0.8 3.4
Jct. Lincoln Woods Trail / Black Pond Trail (1410') 0.8 4.2
Jct. Lincoln Woods Trail / Franconia Falls Trail (1440') 0.2 4.4
Franconia Falls 0.4 4.8
Jct. Lincoln Woods Trail / Franconia Falls Trail (1440') 0.4 5.2
Lincoln Woods Trailhead (1160') 2.8 8.0

Franconia Falls (photo by Webmaster) Franconia Brook (photo by Webmaster)

Wild oats (photo by Webmaster)

  Trail Guide   

Cascade on Birch Island Brook (photo by Webmaster) On Saturday, May 12th, we explored the Lincoln Woods Trail - a first for many of us. Eight people and one dog set out along the wide, almost-level, mostly-straight Lincoln Woods Trail to check out two delightful destinations: Black Pond and Franconia Falls.

We started out by crossing a long suspension bridge over the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River. The river flow was high with lots of white water as the water splashed over and around boulders of various sizes.

I had heard the Lincoln Woods Trail can be quite a mob scene, but perhaps since we were still a bit off-season it was a very peaceful trail and we only encountered a handful of other parties along our 8-mile trek. The East Branch as well as some tributaries accompanied the trail for much of the route. Through the partially budded leaves we could see the river raging along. A few times spur paths led closer to the shore and in one spot, the trail itself went right to the shore providing a great view of the wide river as well as the Bonds rising above it. In other places, peaceful and enticing small streams ran along the opposite side of the trail.

The trail was bordered with hardwoods, white pines, and hemlocks. Growing close to the ground we discovered wintergreen (evergreen leaves which smell like wintergreen) and wild oats (plants with a single, nodding, pale-yellow flower). We also saw many red trilliums (they are called "red" but are actually closer to a deep maroon color). And we saw many painted trilliums. The painted trilliums are white with a triangular-shaped splash of red or pink near the center.

There were a few patches of low-growing wood anemone: bright white flowers growing amongst a dense patch of green leaves. And we saw one tiny white violet. Goldthread, an evergreen plant with ground-hugging, dark-green leaves, was growing in abundance but not yet flowering. I found one grouping that had stems shooting out above the leaves with tiny buds at the tips.

Franconia Falls (photo by Webmaster) After 2.6 miles along the main trail, we turned onto Black Pond Trail. This was a narrower trail, often running along Birch Island Brook and included a view of some nice cascades. At the end of this 0.8-mile path we reached Black Pond: a tranquil pond enclosed largely by conifers with the double-peaked ridge of Bondcliff visible across the water.

We settled in at the small clearing along the shore and hungrily devoured our lunches. Jack found some moose prints nearby. We also saw some moose prints on the return trip on the main trail.

Next, we retraced our steps back to the main trail and continued for another 0.2 mile to reach the trail to Franconia Falls as well as another long bridge; this one crossing Franconia Brook. The brook was also running high and swift with lots of white water. We admired the views from the bridge, then turned back to follow the trail to Franconia Falls. This was a pleasant 0.4 mile spur leading to some great cascades and very large boulders scattered throughout the stream. We hung out here for a while, basking on the sunny rocks and taking in the chaotic yet gorgeous views of the water dancing over the boulders and racing downstream.

Finally, we packed up and retraced our footsteps back to the parking area. The whole day was sunny, about 60 degrees, and had refreshing breezes. And totally bug-free. I don't think we could have asked for a more perfect hiking day. And great hiking companions of course.

Franconia Brook from bridge (photo by Webmaster)

Black Pond (photo by Webmaster)

Lincoln Woods Trail (photo by Webmaster)


NH - Central East

  Driving Directions   

The Lincoln Woods Trailhead is located in Lincoln, New Hampshire, off of Rt. 112 (Kancamagus Highway).

From Rt. 16:
  • From Rt. 16, turn west onto Rt. 112 (Kancamagus Highway).
  • Travel for about 30 miles, then turn right into the signed Lincoln Woods parking lot.
  • This turn is about 5.5 miles after the hairpin turn in Hancock Notch.
  • The trailhead starts to the left of the visitor's center which is straight-ahead when you drive into the parking lot.

From I-93:
  • From I-93, take exit 32, and head east on Rt. 112 (Kancamagus Highway).
  • Travel for about 5 miles, then turn left into the signed Lincoln Woods parking lot.
  • This turn is just after the highway bridge crossing the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River, and is 0.3 mile after Hancock Campground which is on the right.
  • The trailhead starts to the left of the visitor's center which is straight-ahead when you drive into the parking lot.


Bathrooms and Lincoln Woods Visitor Center in parking lot.

Other Notes   

There is mention in guidebooks about needing to obtain (free) permits to visit Franconia Falls but this is no longer required.

WMNF Recreational Pass

A parking permit is required to park at White Mountain National Forest trailheads and parking areas. You can purchase a WMNF permit from the forest service and other vendors and can also pay-by-the-day using self-service kiosks located in many parking areas.

For more information on parking passes please refer to the White Mountain National Forest website.

  • $5 per day
  • $30 for a year-long pass
  • $40 for a year for a household

More Black Pond and Franconia Falls Trail Reports   

  Bridge on Lincoln Woods Trail crossing Franconia Brook (photo by Webmaster)

Franconia Falls (photo by Webmaster)
The Bonds over East Branch of Pemigewasset River (photo by Webmaster) Brook along Lincoln Woods Trail (photo by Webmaster) Black Pond (photo by Webmaster)

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