The Franconia Range is, not surprisingly, the highest and most important range of the vast Franconia Region. In all the Appalachians, it ranks third behind the Presidentials and Katahdin in above timberline acerage, making its crest a popular and spectacular hike. Mount Lafayette (5242') is the dominant peak at the north end of the 6-mile range, and the narrow, treeless crest then runs south over utterly minor Mount Truman (5100'), somewhat minor Mount Lincoln (5089'), and the open shoulder of Little Haystack (4500'). A circut hike from U.S. 3 on the Old Bridle Path, Franconia Ridge Trail, and Falling Waters Trail, going along this crest, is one of the classics, and well worth it just for the views, even if it can get crowded.
South from Little Haystack the ridge becomes forested, but the fine rocky cone of Mount Liberty (4460') rises out of the trees further south, and the impressive western cliffs of Mount Flume (4327') mark the southern end of the impressive part of this range. Mount Osseo (or Whaleback, 3586') and the Coolidge Mountains (Big at 3294' and Little at 2421') lie to the south, trailless since the Osseo trail was re-routed several years ago.
The northeast extention of the Franconia Range, extending from Mount Lafayette's high north ridge, is the rugged Garfield Ridge. The Garfield Ridge trail, part of the Appalachian Trail, is known as one of the rougher footpaths in the White Mountains, climbing over many forested knolls with rough footing. Mount Garfield (4458'), a rocky cone much like Mount Liberty, is the ridge's high point.
Another spur of the Franconia Range is the forested crest of Owls Head (4023'), cradled in the horseshoe formed by the Franconia, Garfield, and Twin Ranges and lying in the heart of the Pemigewasset Wilderness. Infamous as the only 4000 footer in New England without an official trail to its summit, and one of the most remote from a trailhead, it is usually ascended by means of a steep, miserable landslide path on its west flank. Many a peakbagger has cursed his way up the crumbling rock and dirt of the slide and the steep herd path to the top to find no views for his exertions.