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If you’re looking for a unique natural experience for your next adventure, you’ll want to consider Flume Gorge in New Hampshire.
While some reviewers can leave brutal and harsh reviews for many travel destinations, Flume Gorge has racked up almost 5,000 reviews and has an average of 4.8 stars. There’s so much to see and do in this neck of the woods, but you’ll want to make sure you build time into your itinerary to stop here.
While there are many things to love about Flume Gorge, it’s not perfect. Today, we’re sharing what we loved and hated about Flume Gorge in New Hampshire. Let’s get started!
About Flume Gorge in New Hampshire
Flume Gorge is in New Hampshire’s Franconia Notch State Park and sits at the base of Mount Liberty in Lincoln, N.H. This is an 800-foot (horizontal distance) gorge with 70-foot to 90-foot granite walls.
The distance between the walls varies from 12 feet to 20 feet. Guests can walk a looping trail through the gorge. However, it’s far more than a simple leisurely stroll in the woods.
How Did Flume Gorge Form?
The origination of Flume Gorge dates back nearly 200 million years. Granite rocks that form the gorge walls were buried deep beneath the ground as molten rock.
The molten rock cooled and broke apart, and basalt dikes pushed the rock upwards and out of the ground. Basalt quickly crystalized when contacting the colder granite surfaces, which resulted in a fine-grained rocky surface.
The valley where the gorge sits today resulted from erosion at the dikes and the surface. The basalt dikes rapidly eroded while the Conway granite walls deepened. Glacial ice during the Ice Age covered the entire area, which removed soil and weathered the rocks.
However, Flume Brook was once again flowing through the area. You can still see the remnants from the basalt dikes throughout the gorge and on the walls. While there are no longer glaciers, erosion is still occurring in the gorge as the water flows through it.
Who Discovered Flume Gorge?
Jess Guernsey was 93 years old in 1808 when she set out to go fishing. We don’t know how many fish she caught that day, but we do know that she accidentally stumbled across the beautiful Flume Gorge.
If it weren’t for “Aunt” Jess heading out on that fishing expedition, who knows how long it would have taken for anyone to discover “Flume Gorge.”
At the time, a massive 10 feet by 12 feet rock was jammed between the gorge’s walls. However, an intense June 1883 rainstorm initiated a landslide that dislodged the boulder and deepened the gorge.
This storm was also responsible for creating Avalanche Falls, which is a great spot to relax along the trail.
How Long Does It Take to Hike the Flume Gorge?
It takes approximately 1.5 hours for guests to complete the hike. There’s a tremendous amount of uphill walking, and you’ll climb many stairs.
You’ll need to take several breaks if you’re not in good physical condition. This will likely result in it taking more than 1.5 hours to complete. Naturally, the more you stop, the longer the hike will take.
Does It Cost to Visit Flume Gorge?
If you want to visit Flume Gorge, it’s good to know that there are fees. While guests ages 5 and under are free, it’s $19 for ages 6 to 12 and $21 for those ages 13 and older.
However, you can save $3 per ticket by making your reservation online before your trip to the gorge.
What We Loved About Flume Gorge New Hampshire
There are several things we loved about visiting Flume Gorge in New Hampshire.
Here are some things that make this a stop worth making during your travels. Let’s take a look!
You Can Take Your Time
One of the great things about Flume Gorge is that it’s a self-guided tour. You can take your time to enjoy certain areas for as long as you like.
You can slow down and let other guests pass to enjoy a spot in silence instead of listening to screaming kids or cranky adults. There are plenty of educational signs along the trail that can help educate you on the plants and foliage.
Don’t let yourself feel rushed. A trip to Flume Gorge in New Hampshire can be a tremendous learning opportunity if you take the time to enjoy it.
Let others who are in a hurry pass you by so you can truly appreciate the beauty of this natural landform.
Keep in Mind: You have to add these 10 Fall Hikes in New England to your bucket list!
Plenty of Scenery to Enjoy
While the trail’s highlight is the 800-foot-long hike through the gorge, the entire trail is stunning. The thick trees and waterfalls are great for photographers and nature lovers.
The further you walk along the trail, the better the scenery gets. Make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes so you’re aching or tired feet don’t distract you from enjoying the views.
One visitor, Sonjay, even says, “One of the family members commented that this was a better experience than any of the hikes we did at the Acadia National Park.” If you’ve ever been to Acadia National Park, then you know that this says something about the incredible beauty you can expect to see in this park.
It’s One Way
It can be incredibly frustrating to dodge other hikers in the opposite direction, especially if you’re on a popular trail. It can make it difficult to enjoy the landscapes as you’re worried about making room for others.
Thankfully, Flume Gorge in New Hampshire is a one-way trail, so you won’t have to worry about oncoming traffic. We loved not worrying about dodging those speeding in the opposite direction as if they were trying to set the record for the fastest person to complete it.
The trail is easy to moderate in difficulty, but most people find it very family-friendly. There are plenty of places to stop, rest, and take some pictures along the way.
Due to the many stairs, it’s not exactly stroller-friendly. However, kids of all ages can typically complete the trail with minimal difficulty. The constantly changing views and scenery will help keep their attention.
Another way to maximize the family-friendliness of this hike is to take advantage of the informational signage along the route. It can help educate hikers of all ages about the unique plants and foliage along the trail.
What We Hated About Flume Gorge New Hampshire
While Flume Gorge in New Hampshire is a great place to visit, there are a few things we didn’t love about it. Some of these may be enough for you to scratch this off your future travel list.
Expensive for What It Is
The price is one of the largest complaints of those who leave negative reviews for Flume Gorge. Even if you take advantage of the online discount, it can cost almost $70 for a parent and two kids to visit Flume Gorge.
When you consider that you can buy an annual pass to the more than 400 national parks for $80, Flume Gorge is incredibly expensive. If you’re looking for budget-friendly places to visit, Flume Gorge isn’t likely going to make the cut.
Pro Tip: These are the best spots for New Hampshire Camping!
Crowded Trails with People Taking Pictures
Despite its price tag, this is still a trendy place to visit, especially on weekends. Many people along the trail aren’t aware of those around them and make sudden stops in the middle of the trail to capture a picture.
This can make it very difficult to enjoy and appreciate the scenery. While you’ll experience fewer crowds during the week, peak season crowds can be hectic anytime the park is open.
Long Lines to Get in on the Weekends
Since the trail is one-way and somewhat narrow along the boardwalk, it typically creates a long line of people slowly meandering through the gorge.
Things will spread out after the gorge, but don’t expect to have the gorge to yourself, especially on the weekends. You’ll likely experience a solid line of people making their way through the beautiful gorge.
Plan Your Flume Gorge Visit Right to Have a Good Experience
Flume Gorge in New Hampshire can be an incredible experience, especially if you can travel early in the season before the peak travel season.
However, if you don’t mind the crowds, a visit during fall brings the entire area’s landscape to life with a tremendous amount of color in the foliage. Seeing the leaves change adds to the natural beauty of this area, and you’ll never forget it.