Two Hikes and a Swim: Artist’s Bluff, Bald Mountain, and Echo Lake (Franconia State Park, New Hampshire)

22Jul
Two Hikes and a Swim: Artist’s Bluff, Bald Mountain, and Echo Lake (Franconia State Park, New Hampshire)

On our second day in Franconia Notch, we were excited to see more of the mountains. However, we also knew we had to take it a little easy with the kids since the day before had been relatively long and physically demanding for our three young children. This is a regular pattern for us during our travels. We like to alternate busy days with more relaxed days to make sure the boys never hit the ’tilt and meltdown’ point.

We went looking for two types of activities…

  1. A short, rewarding hike
  2. A great swim

…and we found them both at Echo Lake.

Echo Lake, located at the foot of Cannon Mountain, has a beautiful swimming area, fishing area, boat launch and rentals. There is a small fee for use of the lake, but we entered the parking lot before 10 am so we didn’t have to pay (hint, hint).

Hike #1: Artist’s Bluff

Once we parked in the Echo Lake parking lot, we crossed the street to the Artist’s Bluff trailhead. Here we were presented with a couple of options.

P1090078

We could have stayed to the right and completed a very short but very STEEP rock scramble up to Artist’s Bluff, or we could go to the left and complete a longer loop leading up to the same place. We chose the latter option and then descended from the bluff along the steeper, rockier path.

This was a 1.5 mile loop that was just perfect for a family hike. It had all of the changing landscape, kid-friendly challenges, and stunning views that we look for in a trail.

P1090046

 

P1090023

The boys had a great time practicing ‘careful footing’ on the way down. I had Wes in the backpack, and I was just fine navigating the rocks.

P1090061

 

P1090066

Hike #2: Bald Mountain

This hike is in the same location, but we completed it on a different day. You could easily combine the two hikes into one if you have older children (or just adults!) who have greater trail stamina.

For our climb up to Bald Mountain, we parked in a lot that was just up from Echo Lake on your right coming off of Interstate 93. The ascent was short and dramatic, requiring a lot of rock scrambling and some butt-shuffling on the part of the boys.

P1090250

This was the perfect difficulty level for our boys since they had to concentrate and exert quite a bit of effort, but only over a short period of time. The summit is only .4 miles from the trailhead, but the whole trail is engaging and interesting.

P1090248

 

IMG_3585

And the views.

P1090254

We read over and over that these two hikes offered some of the most rewarding views of Franconia Notch. This is absolutely true. Make sure you bring some snacks or a lunch and relax a bit on the summits.

IMG_3574

These were probably our two favorite mountaintop locations during our entire New Hampshire trip.

The Payoff: Swim at Echo Lake

It is never disappointing to come down off the mountain when there is a beautiful lake for a refreshing swim. We thought that Echo Lake would be cold. Freezing, New Hampshire water cold. Actually, that turned out not to be the case. It felt like a crisp, invigorating high 60’s, and the kids dived right in and splashed around comfortably.

P1090087

One of the best things about this lake was the very large swimming area. We often feel like big, beautiful lakes that we visit have ridiculously small, roped-off swimming sections. There was also an additional shallow area sectioned off for the kids. We loved that feature since our boys still need that visual cue for how far they can swim out.

P1090090

There was the coveted sandy bottom and clear, fresh water that we love in a lake. The views of the Notch and Cannon Mountain that surrounded us as we floated in the water were truly idyllic.

There is a bike path (and bike rentals) right there as well. We didn’t get to explore the path, but if you do, let us know how you enjoy it. Our boys also looked longingly at the paddle boats, but we promised that for another time.

Just one more thing to put on the list for our next visit to New Hampshire.

2 Comments

  1. Bill & Claudia

    I so envy you guys…..sorry that we missed doing these sort of activities with out kids (now grown), and I’m still game to make the effort with our Grandson, MJ, who is a little younger than your twins, but Grandma is not up for hikes any more, nor is our Daughter….so I’m going to have to see about some short hikes for MJ and I when we head up into the mountains of NC one of these days.

    Right now, his interests are trains, trains, and ooh yeah, trains!! So we do try to find things that have that theme. Of course, there are Children’s Museums, Zoos, and the Aquariums….so he’s getting some run around time too!

    We’re living vicariously though you guys…..and may eventually do some of your adventures.

    Reply
    • livelylittlecampers

      Please let us know when you get to WNC for some hikes. We have a few that we love that are short and very kid-friendly. We cram our summer full of action because it goes too fast and we will be back in the classroom in no time. Thanks for reading!

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our Official Sponsors

Sign up for our newsletter

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this podcast with your friends!