Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
4,154.00 ft (1,266.14 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
8.50 mi (13.68 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

This moderately challenging 8.5 mile loop in the White Mountains is among the busiest and most popular hikes in the region, and for good reason. The hike offers incredible views from along one of the most scenic ridge trails in the White Mountains, all within an 8-mile hike. The trail is challenging due to its elevation gain and a few slightly technical rock slabs along the Falling Waters Trail.

The hike begins on the Falling Waters Trail, which ascends alongside a scenic rocky river, passing a number of beautiful cascades that give the trail its name. After passing the impressive Cloudland Falls after about 1.4 miles, the trail begins switchbacking towards the summit of Little Haystack Mountain. At 2.5 miles, there is a short spur trail to Shining Rock, a large rock slab with water trickling down it. From there the trail leads towards the summit of Little Haystack Mountain at 3.0 miles, where hikers are rewarded with 360-degree views of the Pemigewasset Wilderness, including the scenic ridge leading to Mount Lafayette.

The hike then follows this ridge about 0.7 miles to Mount Lincoln, the first of the two official 4000-footers on this hike. From Mount Lincoln, the trail traverses past dramatic rocky outcroppings and boulders another 1.0 miles along the ridge to the summit of Mount Lafayette.

After Mount Lafayette, the hike begins to descend towards the Greenleaf Hut via the Greenleaf Trail. At the hut, 1.1 miles from the summit, hikers can refill waterbottles and even buy snacks (when the hut is open in the summer season). The hike then descends along the Old Bridle Path another 2.7 miles to the junction with the Falling Waters Trail.

Although this hike is extremely crowded, with Little Haystack Mountain easily seeing hundreds of hikers pass by on summer weekends, it offers some of the best views in the White Mountain National Forest. Due to the high amount of traffic this area receives, it is critical to stay on marked paths and off of sensitive alpine plants and gravel areas in the alpine zone. Know the Leave No Trace principles before your trip, be prepared, and this area is sure not to disappoint.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

$5.00

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Stunning views. Exposed ridgeline.

Cons

Very crowded.

Trailhead Elevation

1,811.00 ft (551.99 m)

Highest point

5,260.00 ft (1,603.25 m)

Features

Near lake or river
Shelters
Waterfalls
Geologically significant
Big vistas

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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