Park at the lot on the Kancamagus Highway, a designated scenic byway. To get there, take I-93 Exit 32 at Lincoln and go E on NH Route 112 (Kancamagus Highway) about 5.7 miles to sign and parking lot. There is a fee for parking.
The Lincoln Woods Trail, formerly known as the "Wilderness Trail", follows what was once the main line of the East Branch and Lincoln Railroad. It was a former logging railway system that was the largest in the White Mountains through the 1940's. Today the old railbed is used as the quickest route into Pemigewasset Wilderness and provides access to several spur trails leading into high country and some of New Hampshire's 4,000 foot peaks. The bridge connecting the trail into the Pemigewasset Wilderness is built upon pilings that once supported the railroad.
Begin your mountain bike ride from the trailhead at the White Mountains National Forest Lincoln Woods Visitor Center, but first stop in. Housed in a log cabin, the information center is manned daily. It serves as the gateway for a variety of outdoor activities including wilderness backpacking, hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and mountain biking. You can find out about the route and conditions ahead, admire the views from the 160 foot suspension bridge, get a permit to visit the Franconia Falls and find flush toilet facilities. A pedestrian walkway accessible from the parking area, offers views up the scenic Pemigewasset River.
The Lincoln Woods Trail and Franconia Brook Trail
The Lincoln Woods Trail is one of the easiest and most popular mountain biking excursions in the White Mountains National Forest. It provides one of the best opportunities for a combined family bike ride and hike to Franconia Falls. (see Franconia Falls Trail). The flat, wide trail travels in a fairly straight line along a gentle grade, crosses the 160 foot-long suspension bridge and runs alongside the west side of the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River for much of its length ending at the boundary of the Pemigewasset Wilderness Area at 2.9 miles.
Shortly after beginning your ride from the Visitor Center, mountain bike across the suspension bridge over the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River. The trail makes a sharp right turn and travels on the old railbed of the East Branch and Lincoln Railroad up the west side of the river. A mixed hardwood forest interspersed with white pine and hemlock borders the route.
Along the trail there are are panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Several spur trails, popular with hikers, including the East Side Trail, Franconia Falls Trail, the Osseo Trail and the Black Pond Trail branch off the main Lincoln Woods Trail and lead to many scenic attractions and high mountain country.
Watch out for the raised old hemlock railroad ties that still remain on the path. At 2.8 miles into your ride, you'll pedal past the former Franconia Brook Campsite. It is now closed permanently due to health and safety reasons. A temporary camping area with 24 sites has been established across the river on the northern end of the East Side Trail (truck service road). Camping permit required.
Just past the old campground is a stone wall, the foundation of an old railroad bridge. A sign points the way to Franconia Falls. The trail leading to the waterfalls, the Franconia Brook Trail, a rough old logging road riddled with ruts, roots and rocks begins just south of the narrow 75-foot bridge spanning Franconia Brook. There are pretty views of 4,328-foot Mt. Flume from the center of the bridge. Mountain biking is not permitted past the sign on the other side of the bridge, which marks the entrance into the Pemigewasset Wilderness Area.
The yellow blazed logging road follows the brook for .25 miles to the waterfalls. It is also one of the most heavily traveled trails in the summer and best accessed on foot. During the summer, a bike rack is usually available at the end of the Linclon Woods Trail. Bring a bike lock, lock your bike here and walk the short distance to the falls.
Melting glaciers eroded about an acre of granite ledge as they receded northward forming Franconia Brook and creating the Franconia Falls. This waterfall is a favorite hike for families. The series of wide ledges, pools and cascades are popular sunbathing spots. Near the base of the falls, close to the trail along the brook, is a natural waterslide, the groove formed by eons of flowing water.
The careless behavior of visitors to the Falls has resulted in unacceptable sanitary conditions and caused the general deterioration of this area. The Franconia Falls restrooms have been removed. A Sanitation Kit is available for a nominal fee from the Visitors Center.
Other popular trails easily reached from the Lincoln Woods Trail:
East Side Trail : 2.9 miles (one way)
Osseo Trail: 4.0 miles (one way)
Black Pond Trail : 0.8 miles
Signs of the logging era in the White Mountains can be seen all along the trail and the surrounding area. Look for old logging camp clearings, side hill or dugway roads, (roads cut into a hillside), Ice Ponds (ice or snow produced and stored in the winter to be used for cooling in summer), bridge abutments at stream crossings, old railroad ties and ironware.
For More Information:
Lincoln Woods Visitor Center
Phone: (603) 630-5190
Pemigewasset/Ammonoosuc Ranger District
Phone: (603) 536-1310
White Mountain National Forest Supervisor's Office
Phone: (603) 528-8721