Cannon Mountain via Hi-Cannon in Winter
Hike Date: December 31, 2020
On New Year’s Eve, we revisited Cannon Mountain for our last hike of 2020.
|0 mi||0 mi||Start at Lafayette Place Campground|
|0.4 mi||0.4 mi||Lonesome Lake Trail to Hi-Cannon Trail|
|2.0 mi||2.4 mi||Hi-Cannon Trail to Kinsman Ridge Trail|
|0.4 mi||2.8 mi||Kinsman Ridge Trail to summit of Cannon Mountain|
|0.8 mi||3.6 mi||Kinsman Ridge Trail to Lonesome Lake Trail|
|0.9 mi||4.5 mi||Lonesome Lake Trail to Lonesome Lake|
|1.1 mi||5.6 mi||Lonesome Lake Trail back to Lafayette Place Campground|
To close out the year, we hiked Cannon Mountain on New Year’s Eve. It was the perfect way to bid farewell to 2020. This was our third time doing this hike, but our first time in winter, making it number 18 out of 48 for our NH 4,000 footer winter list. The hike to Cannon is shorter in comparison to other 4,000 footers in NH, so we started at a leisurely 10am. It was a typical winter day in the mountains: cloudy and overcast with some snow flurries. We parked at Lafayette Campground and began on Lonesome Lake Trail. After a short bit, we crossed some small footbridges then turned right on Hi-Cannon, a shorter but steeper path leading up to Kinsman Ridge Trail. Based on how many footprints we saw continuing on Lonesome Lake Trail (which also leads to Kinsman Ridge Trail), it seemed like the more popular route and we were happy to take the trail less travelled.
There was much less snow on the ground than we expected for this time of year. The snow cover was thin, leaving rocks and sheets of ice exposed or only slightly covered, which made footing more challenging and tenuous. After some short and steep “switchbacks,” we got to a steep wooden ladder, the element of Hi-Cannon Trail that helps it earn a spot on the list of “Terrifying 25” hikes in New Hampshire. We climbed up slowly and enjoyed the views of Franconia Notch from the top of the ladder. Then, we continued on, passing some open ledges with views of a frozen Lonesome Lake below.
When we got to the next trail juncture, we only had 0.4 miles left of mild terrain before getting to the summit of Cannon. At the top of the peak, we climbed up the wooden tower, caught sight of some skiers and snowboarders at the top of the Cannon chairlift, and took in the view of Franconia ridge socked in the clouds. The wind was whipping at 40+ miles per hour so we quickly put on more layers, snapped some pictures, and climbed down to eat lunch on a bench shielded by the trees. During our entire ascent, we only saw three other hikers and spent most of the time walking silently, one of the reasons we love winter hiking.
Initially, we planned to continue on Kinsman Ridge Trail to go over to South and North Kinsman, but we opted to just hike Cannon to give us more time to enjoy the rest of 2020 at home. We have been really conscious of listening to ourselves, our bodies, and our feelings when we hike instead of sticking so strictly to our outcomes or goals. Just because we had gas left in the tank didn’t mean we had to use it! We decided to turn left on Lonesome Lake Trail to descend to the parking lot. It was pretty steep coming down at first. We stepped very carefully and let our microspikes help stabilize us on the icy rocks. Lonesome Lake was almost completely covered with a blanket of undisturbed snow. After Lonesome Lake, we only had a little over a mile left. During this section, we saw way more people hiking, most likely just coming up to Lonesome Lake. Being out in the snowy woods was a beautiful way to end the day and the year.