‘Unprepared’ Boston-area hikers rescued from notoriously challenging N.H. trail

Local News

The group, which included young teens, called for help as they tried to descend one of New Hampshire’s most difficult trails Saturday night.

Franconia Notch State Park. White Mountains Attractions/courtesy

Conservation officers rescued a group of “unprepared” hikers, which included multiple teenagers, late Saturday night in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department was contacted at about 9 p.m. on May 11 about a group of hikers that needed help on the Flume Slide Trail. The trail, an eight-mile out-and-back that begins in Franconia Notch State Park, is known as one of the most difficult treks in the White Mountains, according to officials and the hiking website AllTrails.

The hikers were stuck about three miles from the Liberty Springs Trailhead near the Franconia Notch State Park Bike Path, according to officials. They were attempting to descend the Flume Slide Trail but could not continue because they had no lights to hike in the dark. They also did not have equipment that would have allowed them to camp overnight. A rescue operation was ordered because of the cold temperatures and the group’s unprepared state.

Conservation officers reached the group just after 11:30 p.m. They found a 26-year-old man who was leading a group of three teenagers between the ages of 13 and 14. The hikers all hailed from the Boston area. They were given lights and food. Members of the rescue team helped them down the trail, and they safely reached the bike path at 1:50 a.m. on Sunday morning. They were then brought to their vehicle at the Liberty Springs parking lot.

Officials learned that the group had hiked up the Liberty Springs Trail to Mt. Liberty, then over to Mt. Flume. That’s when they made a crucial mistake, officials said.

“A dangerous decision was made to descend the Flume Slide Trail in order to loop back to the Liberty Springs Trail as a result of the group being unfamiliar with the trails,” the Fish and Game Department said in a release. “The Flume Slide Trail is considered one of the most difficult trails in the White Mountains and it is strongly recommended by all sources not to be used to descend from Mount Flume.”

Officials warned the public that snow and ice still exist on many higher-elevation trails in New Hampshire, and seemingly pleasant spring days can mask dangerous situations. Hikers are being urged to prepare not just with the proper equipment, but with detailed trail information and contingency plans.

Many AllTrails commenters on the Flume Slide Trail page have written about the trail’s beauty and danger.

“I would not ascend this if it was raining, I would not descend this ever,” reads one comment.

“I would not wish this trail on my worst enemy. Good luck my friends,” reads another from 2023.

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