Frankenstein-Arethusa Loop (November 1, 2009)

What better way to celebrate Halloween than with a hike to Frankenstein Cliffs? Chuck Redepenning and I couldn't think of any so we set off on the Frankenstein-Arethusa Falls loop below Crawford Notch. Shorter days, colder temperatures, and foliage on the ground are a perfect invitation for low-elevation hiking. From the Arethusa Falls parking lot the trail skirts the base of the cliffs, sharing space with the railway going up the Saco Valley to the Notch. It eventually crosses under a railway trestle, atop of which we clambered for a great view of the Notch (left). The trail then zig-zags up the side of the cliffs, with a superb outlook at 2,150' where we found some nice folks to take our picture (right)
This outlook had the best views that we would get all day so we lingered for a while. To the south was a great view of the Saco Valley with decimated foliage (left). To the east across the Valley was a nice panorama of the Montalban range where I had wandered with Roger Gagne three weeks before (check it out). From left you can see Stairs Mountain, Mt. Resolution, and Mt. Crawford. To the west was a view of our next destination, Arethusa Falls (below left - the Falls are the white speck on the slope, blow up the picture to see them better).
We continued on along the cliffs in a nice open spruce forest with continuing views of Arethusa, eventually climbing to the top at 2,500' where a view to Mt. Washington was advertised but was really not great - another case where a good blowdown would do wonders. The best views we could manage from there were of Stairs Mountain to the west (right).
After that it was down to Arethusa Falls, angling down the valley that you see above left with a few brook crossings. The trail was carpeted with dead birch leaves making for some slippery footing. The Falls were really nice (left), even with low water. We exited by the Arethusa Falls trail, well-graded for the casual hikers doing a short hike to the Falls - we felt like we were on a boulevard. Down at the parking lot we got a nice view of the Cliffs (right) - 3:30 pm and the shadows were already taking over! We're back on standard time and the season of darkness is upon us...ah, but in a few weeks Chuck and I will be hitting the Bretton Woods slopes!

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