Visiting New Hampshire's Biodiversity


Franconia Ridge: Alpine Zone



Description:
This is a strenuous dayhike up to a spectacular narrow ridge of alpine tundra system. In New Hampshire, the alpine zone occurs at high elevations above treeline in the White Mountains where severe climatic conditions prevail and natural communities of low mat-forming shrubs, sedges, rushes, grasses, mosses, and lichens dominate. The alpine zone on Franconia Ridge is the second largest in the state.

Among the many natural communities you can see on this hike are sedge - rush - heath meadows, diapensia shrublands, alpine heath snowbanks, subalpine dwarf shrublands, alpine/subalpine bogs, black spruce - balsam fir krummholz, high-elevation spruce - fir forests, and northern hardwood - spruce - fir forests.


Directions: Take I-93 to the Franconia Notch Parkway. Northbound, exit at the Trailhead Parking sign on the right soon after The Basin. Southbound, exit at the Lafayette Campground, park, and take a paved walkway through an underpass to the lot on the other side of the parkway. This area is called Lafayette Place. Note: these parking lots may be very busy or full on weekends or holidays.

Landowner: White Mountain National Forest

Site Guide and Map

Images (hold mouse over image for caption)

Franconia Ridge from Cannon Mountain (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)

Alpine tundra system on Franconia Ridge (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau) Taking a break on Mt. Lafayette (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)

Alpine tundra system on Franconia Ridge (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau) Alpine plants (Diapensia, Geum, and Vaccinium) (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau) Rock tower south of summit of Mt. Lincoln (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)

Enjoying Franconia Ridge (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)

Subalpine peatland within high-elevation spruce - fir forest, and Greenleaf Hut (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau) Subalpine bog at the edge of Eagle Lake, view northeast  (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)

Alpine sedge - rush - heath meadow community on Mt. Lafayette (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)

View through northern hardwood - spruce - fir forest from the Falling Waters Trail (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau) Summit of Mt. Lafayette (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)


Looking south along the alpine tundra natural community system
on Franconia Ridge from Mt. Lincoln (photo by Ben Kimball)


moonrise over Franconia Ridge in winter (photo by Ben Kimball)

 Franconia Ridge Alpine Zone brochure cover (click to link to site guide)
Site Guide and Map

Link: www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/white_mountain/recreation/hiking/index.php

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