ApproachSKOOKUMCHUCK TRAILHEAD: (1700')
From I-93 get off at Exit 36 toward Twin Mountain (U.S. Route 3). Stay on Route 3 not more than a mile. The trailhead will be on your right. The Parking Area also serves as the parking area for the Franconia Notch State Park Bike Path. The Skookumchuck Trail leaves on the Northeast corner.
Mt. Lafayette. You can basically see the Garfield Ridge trail as it works it way to Mt. Lafayette
SKOOKUMCHUCK TRAIL: (4.3 MILES) (4,680 ft.)
GARFIELD RIDGE TRAIL: (0.8 MILES)
TOTAL HIKE: 10.2 MILES
This is a much different way from the Franconia Ridge Traverse, but in many ways just as scenic way of climbing Mt. Lafayette. It is much less crowded than the Franconia Traverse and a little longer as well. But as the Franconia Traverse climbs Mt. Lincoln, this way climbs the much less well known, but just as beautiful, North Lafayette, a large hump on the north side of Mt. Lafayette.
The trail leaves the parking area heading south toward the summit of Mt. Lafayette. It continues at a moderate grade to the edge of Skookumchuck Brook about a mile away. It continues up the brook until it reaches a set up very steep rock steps at 1.8 miles. These steps will take the wind out of you so be prepared.
From there the trail takes many alternating grade through the birch forest until you hit another hit a spring and another set of steps at 2.5 miles. The trail continues at a moderate pace with some small steeper sections through birch, spruce and then through thick scrub. Toward the upper elevation the trail narrows through the scrub. It continues to rise until at 3.6 miles it summits the shoulder of Mt. Lafayette. The trail then shortly drops then rises again where it rises above timberline and hits the Garfield Ridge Trail.
Take a right on the Garfield Ridge Trail. After hiking a steep pitch up to the top of the hump of North Lafayette (5,080') with its great views (some argue that North has better views than Mt. Lafayette) continue at a more moderate climb toward the top of Mt. Lafayette (5,260') where world class views await you.
In summer and early fall nothing more is needed except for hiking shoes
, tons of water and essential hiking gear. Keep in eye on the weather though because Mt. Lafayette is above timberline and it can get very cold at any time of the year. In June bring tons of bug repellent
due to black fly season. Your friends will know if you didn't by all the nasty bites you will be scratching the next couple of weeks.
I wouldn't advise this route in winter unless you had good crampons. Though the route is overall easier than Falling Waters (which I would also advise to have crampons), the section with the steep steps can be very hazardous when there is two feet of snow on top of them without some type of traction.