Hike New Hampshire
Trips in NH

Cannon Mountain

by Bill Newman

Hike Length: dayhike

Trails: Hi-Cannon to Kinsman Ridge for ascent and Lonesome Lake for descent

Date: Oct. 2, 2004

Despite a well-planned overnight hike, you should always be prepared and ready to change your plans due to weather, physical problems, or unforeseen risks. I have renewed my efforts to work on The 48 and despite doing quite a few of the hills several years ago, I am starting fresh this year so that I can have a trip report and specific dates for each of the 48. With this in mind, I was looking to bag a big one to finish out the 2004 summer hiking season. Our original plan was to hike Jefferson via Six Husbands. A very noble challenge that was intended to be our last hike for the season and would make for great finale. When the week of the trip arrived, we had changed our plans and decided to hike Washington instead (another noble idea).

By the weekend, we had decided just to do a day hike and weíd tackle Flume and Liberty via The Flume Slide Trail. By the time we hit the parking lot at Lafayette and saw how wet it was on the trails, we decided against Flume, and opted for the Kinsman/Cannon ridge across the street. The weather reports had changed several times during the week and this directly affected our choice of hikes. When we hit the parking lot, we were totally fogged in, but had high hopes that it would burn off by the time we hit the summit. No such luck, so our plan changed again once we were on the ridge and we decided just to hit Cannon (4100). It was quite a big difference between our original Presidential Ridge plans and what we finally hiked. Always be prepared to change your plans and adapt to the current weather conditions.

We hit the Lafayette Campground parking area around 9:00 AM. The lot is on the southbound side of 93, but there is a turn around if youíre going north just after the Basin and Lafayette Parking areas. The lot is fairly large and is set up in an area before you actually enter the camp ground itself and itís free. I did like the looks of the campground even though it seemed to have fairly open sites. It looks like itís more of a hikers campground than one meant for RVís (no cable hook up, I guess).

Our plan was to hike to the summit of Cannon and then ridge walk over to bag at least North Kinsman, and hopefully South Kinsman too. 3 Ė 4000 footers sounded like a great way to spend a Saturday. Unfortunately, we were completely obscured in fog the entire day and even though the rain was minimal, we were in 100% humidity and the temperature was in the 50ís at base (mid 40ís at the summit, keep this in mind too). Cannon may not be one of the most glamorous mountains due to the tram and ski trails, but taking the Hi-Cannon trail meant that weíd hike along the left side and then on top of The Peabody Slope. This is that area near the (former) Old Man of The Mountain that has a huge boulder field and a sheer rock face, and this alone would make Cannon a neat hike!

The total hike to the summit is about 3 miles/3 hours and the only water is at the start of the trail. The trail is a little more difficult than expected because the entire hike is uphill, no level areas until you get close to the summit. In addition, I found the trail to be poorly marked. Several run-off areas have become short cuts through the switchbacks and I didnít find enough markings on trees to help negotiate some of these areas. We never lost the trail itís just that we couldnít find it. There were several outcrops that probably had fantastic views over to the Franconia Ridge and looking down to the rubble field, but I doubt that we had more than 50 feet of visibility, so we only saw thick fog. Also, because there was so much moisture in the air, we were trying to avoid stepping on the out crops and slipping over the edge.

The trail isnít too rocky but there are a few steep areas and one section has some ladders to assist your ascent. It was a little disappointing to be in Franconia during foliage season and only seeing clouds. However, the summit was an even bigger disappointment. Thereís the tram, a cafeteria, and a lot of people milling about, so the area is fairly well worn and overrun.

The weather was still not cooperating and despite waiting for an hour in hopes that it would burn off enough to get some views, it seemed to get worse due to the temperature dropping and the wind whipping continually.

We decided to change our plans again and to head down instead of going over to the Kinsmanís. This was not only due to the weather, but because neither of us had been on this side of the street, we opted to try again on a better day and to make it a longer overnight-hike to include Moosilauke.

We took the Kinsman Ridge Trail to Lonesome Lake trail down and it was a pretty uneventful descent. I think that this trail is actually broken into 2 sections. One part is from Lafayette to Lonesome Lake and another from Lonesome Lake to the summit. My topo has names for each of these sections, but none of the trails signs notes this. As a matter of fact, the trail signs near Lonesome Lake are useless. Some have been painted black, others have some fuzzy math, and we met a group of hikers that had missed their trail cut-off and had to back track to the hut again (always bring a map!).

The lake itself looks pretty good for fishing, but youíll need to avoid the hut people if youíre looking for quiet solitude. Lonesome Lake AMC Hut is here, and there are always a lot of kids at the lower elevation huts. This AMC Hut is the easiest to get to (1.1 miles from 93), and there were a lot of kids there, so be prepared (check out the link on the left side of this page to read more on t! he AMC Hut system). I canít recommend using this hut as a base camp in order to day hike the summits in the area and I think that most back packers would agree and try to avoid this one, but there are quite a few trails intersecting here, so you may have to cut through the area anyway.

I do have a couple of pictures, but you can get the same effect by putting a piece of white paper over your eyes while standing in front of a fan. Even though it was disappointing not to see much, we were still able to check off a 4000 footer, and itís always a lot better to be on a trail instead of on a couch!

Equipment: Boots

Special Equipment: A good trail map!

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