Friday, August 20, 2021

The Fantastic Flume Gorge

Tuesday July 20, 2021                                             Most Recent Posts:
Moose River Campground                    The Gorgeous Basin and Cascade Trail
Saint Johnsbury, Vermont                                     Famous Old Man Fell



These last three posts were all of the same amazing day so if you didn’t see the Old Man and the Cascade Trail, please do.  The links are above.

Let me also make clear that all of these wonders are not in Vermont where I’m staying but in New Hampshire.  It’s a quick less than 5 mile drive from the campground to the New Hampshire Line lucky for me.

On to the seriously fantastic Flume Gorge.


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Every thing I read about Flume Gorge said that it was outstanding so I was totally ready to see how it could be better than the Basin and the Cascade Trail to Kinsman Falls along the river.  

Because of my experience at Quechee Gorge, also exclaimed as wonderful, I was a bit cautious but still. . .    

When I got to the entry building I found out it was $18 for a 2 mile walk.  Hmmm.  Really?  $18 for the privilege of walking 2 miles more when I’d just done an amazing hike for free?   I was raised by depression era children and learned my lessons well.

But I was here and it was here and because of those lessons I really am able to afford things like this so I paid up and started out.  What a GREAT decision.


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There is a fairly long trail before you get to the actual Gorge but there are a lot of things to see along the way.  I believe the entire walk/hike is just over  2 miles.

First up was the Pemigewasset River bridge built in 1886.  I didn’t see any information about whether it was moved here or not but I did read that it was built over the Pemigewasset River and has been restored several times.

The trail was a nice wide path that moved up into the woods and then down to the bridge which we walked by not through..


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The scenic path led to the Boulder Cabin built in 1930 which almost no one, except those who wanted to use its bathrooms, went in  but which had tons of very interesting information and old pictures.  I was the only one reading the information and looking.  This is only a tiny bit of what I learned and saw in the cabin.  I’ll spread the history along with the pictures.


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The Flume was discovered accidentally in June 1808 by 93 year old Aunt Jess Guernsey.   Her favorite hobby, even at her age, was fishing and she wandered around seeking good fishing spots which was how she  followed the sounds of waterfalls and found herself on the edge of a Chasm she'd never seen before.  A Shear sided 700 foot chasm.  She brought her family, who didn’t believe her story, out to see it. She went on fishing and telling that story until she died at 108.



IMG_7639_thumbThere has been an admission fee for anyone who wished to see The Flume nearly from the beginning. At first it was a few cents per person and a fee for the team of horses  people were allowed to drive as far as the Boulder Cabin area.  No cabin yet.  There they would hitch their horses to trees and while the guests walked up The Flume the driver would prepare lunch.   Like the hotels this all seemed a fun thing for the wealthy.

Flume Hotel owners had stables with fine horses and carried their guests to The Flume as did other hotels and boarding houses in the area. When automobiles showed up the owners of The Flume changed to buses to transport the guests since there was not adequate parking to allow individuals to drive


After Boulder Cabin, the walk continued along the scenic stream.  The sound of the water was lovely, people were far enough apart in their groups that I often felt like I was here all by myself.


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I couldn’t imagine what this Flume was as I had done no advance research, not knowing if I would actually do it and wanting to be surprised if I did. This bridge was the beginning of the narrowing of the Gorge.

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The wooden walkways through the gorge as it narrows and narrows are amazing.  And even more amazing is that they take all of these walkways and stairs out every winter since the ice, which accumulates on the walls of the gorge, falls on them and destroys them.

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Some more history.

After Aunt Jess’ discovery, of course, news of the new natural wonder in the White mountains spread.  And of course a pass to The Gorge was cleared and rough walks and bridges permitted access.  Thus the trips mentioned above.

Historic picture below is from the Boulder Creek Cabin exhibit

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Soon stagecoaches were bringing people into Franconia Notch to explore this Flume Gorge and of course someone build an inn beside the road to accommodate those who wanted to explore.

The first one built was Knights Tavern and then there was the first Flume house in 1848. It was destroyed by fire in 1871,  rebuilt the following year and lasted until 1918 when it burned again and I guess they gave up.  It was operated in connection with the grand Profile House Hotel mentioned in the Old Man Post.

Here we start the steps up.  Wish I’d counted them, but I was too busy gawking.  Notice how close the walls are.  This is a narrow gorge. 12 to 20 feet.

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The walkway is on the lower left.  Someone in red is standing on it.  They look mighty small in this wonderous place.


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Closer pictures of the wall hugging walkway.

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The walkway turns into steps as we climb up the gorge.


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Remember, all of these walkways and steps are removed and stacked every year to protect them from falling ice.  Take a look at the historic picture below.  Then of course they have to be put back every spring.  I’m thinking I’m happy to pay $18 for them to do this and enable me to have this fantastic experience.


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Looking behind me at the gorge.  I think this is the spot shown above with all the ice but from the other direction.  This is all just so incredible.

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Still looking back at the bridge we crossed over to begin the walkway.  How do they remove all this and put it back every year?  I would love to see that.

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The walkway goes across again near the top so that we can view Avalanche Falls which brings the water into the Flume.

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I waited for the person behind me so I could have this picture for my wonderful memories collection.  Sure wish David were standing beside me.

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The falls with no distractions.

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Close up of the full top of the falls.  By now you know how much I love falls and cascades and well any natural water feature.

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Close up of the bottom.  Isn’t it just gorgeous?

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A look back as I am forced to leave the falls behind and approach the BEAR DEN.

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Who knows if it was ever a bear den but it’s a good story.  When I first came up, a boy about 10 was inside growling and his mother was trying to get him to come out.  It was very funny.  I didn’t want to embarrass them by taking a picture.

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I’m on my way back now and stop off at this top platform for a last look at Avalanche Falls.

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There are other water features on the path back but they are a bit anticlimactic after where I’ve just been.

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But then the path takes me to an overlook of Liberty Gorge and Liberty Falls.


Next stop is the pool.

IMG_7734Beneath this point in the Pemigewasset River is a deep basin formed at the time of the ice sheet,  two hundred and fifty thousand years ago, by a silt laden stream flowing from the glacier. The Cliffs surrounding the pool are 130 feet high, the bowl 150 ft in diameter and 40 feet deep.  If you dive in here, I have no idea how you would get out.


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Walking on, I come to the Sentinel Pine Bridge built in 1939.  It is named for the great pine that stood on the northwest edge of The Pool as if guarding it.  When it came down in a hurricane, it was used to build the bridge.  In its day it was one of the largest trees in New Hampshire, 16 feet in circumference and nearly 175 feet tall.   Before the Revolutionary War, the King of England ordered the largest pine trees growing in New England be marked with an arrow as his property.  Apparently this infuriated the colonists as much as The Stamp Act and the Tea Acts.  The trees were regularly cut, floated down stream and used as spars in British Naval Ships.  Somehow the Sentinel Pine was spared and it was nearly 200 years before it came down in the great hurricane of September 1938.   I wonder if it had the arrow mark. 


  I walked through it on my way to the WOLF DEN.

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It definitely has a great view of the river and the White Mountains beyond.

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Like the bear den, who knows if this really was a wolf den but it makes a good story.  The sign reads: ”This narrow one way path involves crawling on your hands and knees and squeezing between rocks”.

I suspect mostly kids do it but since I’m small, I thought very seriously about doing this crawl hike.  I passed since by this time I was very tired after a very long and wonderful day.  So I left it on my list for next time.  At the end of the day I had over 18,000 steps and had gone over 7miles.

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Down the steps and into the den if you dare.

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Couldn’t get a picture any further in and no one went in or out while I was watching.  Late in the afternoon is a good time to come walk the gorge.  There were not many people.

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I’ll close with my last look at the Sentinel Bridge.  It’s a picture postcard for sure.
I would do this hike again in a heartbeat and am already trying to figure out when I can return.   I still have to do the wolf’s den.  Anyone want to make plans and meet up here?

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29 comments:

  1. Amazing place! Well worth the 18.00! Great to learn about the history, too!

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    1. Thanks Jeannie. Amazing is the exact word.

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  2. Beautiful! Reminds me of the Catwalk in New Mexico only greener. The admission fee makes sense, given that they have to reconstruct the walkway every year. You had quite a day!

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    1. It was definitely a busy day. I thought I'd read that the Catwalk was washed out in 2012. It must have been put back if you did it.

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  3. I might have balked at the $18 to hike two miles. But if they have to remove the boardwalk every year no wonder they charge. Absolutely gorgeous! Closest thing to a slot canyon in the east. Not sure I'd have crawled into the Wolf Den.

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    1. Might well be the closest thing to a slot canyon but it didn't feel like I imagine a real one would feel. I'm up for the Wolf Den.

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  4. I have to send you $18 for the enjoyment I got from your post with all the beautiful pictures. Once again you find these amazing treasures, thanks for always be willing to take the time to share them. :c)

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    1. Better yet Paul. Come visit and spend the money going to see it yourself in person. The pictures don't begin to do it justice. Thanks to you for always commenting. I look forward to hearing from you.

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  5. Wow! That certainly was worth the $18 and I'm sure that it costs money to remove and replace the walkways every year. The walkways next to the gorge look kind of scary but all of the water is gorgeous! Those rocks are huge My favorite picture is the one at the bottom of the falls. I would have loved to hear the rushing water-nothing is more peaceful. I would say that tis was a great day for you! xxxooo

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    1. You are spot on Pam. Definitely worth the money and a great day!

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  6. The most definitely was worth the 18 dollar charge! I good place to remember when we are in New Hampshire in September 2022. We are plannign to visit the 8 states that we have yet to visit in the MoHo. We have been to all 50 states, not not in the rig. Big cross country next year which I would bet will be our last time we try to cross the country in the rig.

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    1. Wish we could figure out how to meet up on that trip. Hate to hear you say it may be your last one. I have no idea where my summer will be. I hate planning so far ahead and it's only getting worse. Lots of steps on this gorge hike but they are close together so reasonably easy.

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  7. I remember that place! George and I did that back in 2008 on our week long vacation. We don't remember paying anything but my memory is fading a bit. Thanks for the memory!

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    1. I have to join you in the fading memory club which is a big reason for doing this blog. You are welcome for the memory, thanks for the comment.

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  8. Glorious!! I would definitely look at this place and think it was somewhere Sherry needed to see :-) All the bridge and stair moving is truly amazing and as you said makes the $18 worth every dime. Those huge boulders with the cascading water must sound marvelous. Although I have a lot of trouble with stairs this might be a place that inspires me to get in shape!! I've put it on the list for next summer. Thanks for sharing the history which makes it even more interesting.

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    1. Absolutely glorious! Great word for it. The stairs are reasonably wide and short. Hope you get there next summer. I'm glad you liked the history. It was very interesting to read and I wish I could have included more of the old pictures.

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  9. It's wild to think that they move all of those stairs every year! We visited in fall of 2019 and loved it...and it's cool to see it in the lush greenery of summer in your photos. You wrote about it in such detail, it's like being there again. I can envision David standing there with you in the photo of you in front of the waterfall. :-)

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    1. I'll bet it was beautiful in the fall too. I think I do too much detail and need to give just a great overview like you are so skilled at.

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  10. That was really neat to see, thank you SO much for sharing....

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    1. Glad you liked it Loree. Thanks for the comment.

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  11. Our paths finally crossed, except I was there in about 1971. (We lived in Massachusetts.) I am so glad you decided to spend the $18.00. It's a marvelous work of nature. I'd love to return if we were closer, but those stairs would be a killer for me now.

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    1. Love that our paths crossed. Hope we can do it again some time. It is such a marvelous work of nature.

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  12. This is amazing. Again, I like to think of my friend, Mark, seeing it. I, too, wish David could have been there. He would have loved it so much. Thank you for sharing your experience, Sherry. What a place!

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  13. I try to imagine that I'm seeing these places for him because we always loved going to marvelous hikes and paddles together. It's hard not to dwell on how unfair it is. Thanks for commenting Pam.

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  14. Wow! I bet the $18 keeps the crowds down, but well worth it and makes sense given the man hours necessary every year to keep it accessible to the public. Neat history. I'm curious about the Wolf Den. Looks like a cool place to explore and all that water - so fantastic. Very neat to see! Dad would've enjoyed it too no doubt.

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