Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Snowshoe Hike To Lonesome Lake

Today I was looking for a short snowshoe hike to a beautiful spot with a great view. Short being the key word for a number of reasons, the first being the sub-zero windchill, then there was the late start with an hour drive, and probably the best reason was that I used up a lot of leg power yesterday skiing in powder at Bretton Woods. Lonesome Lake seemed to be a great destination to try out the winter gear today as well as condition myself to some frigid weather.

A wind-swept snowy haze

Appalachia Parking lot

Lafayette Campground

Lonesome Lake Trailhead

On the drive over to Franconia Notch I pulled into the Appalachia Trailhead parking lot to activate my toe and hand warmers, there were two vehicles. There was only one vehicle there yesterday and it was still here today. Very unusual for a Sunday morning of blue sky and sunshine but once again the brutal windchill was keeping most of the hikers away. The parking lot had not been plowed recently and was actually quite difficult getting in, I almost got stuck.

A cozy sunny spot at Lonesome Lake Hut

Cannon from Lonesome Lake Hut

Franconia Ridge from Lonesome Lake

Back on Route 2 again and it was an uneventful trip to Franconia Notch. I pulled into Lafayette Campground and found a place to park. The sun was not helping to warm the temps and I layered up. Even as I was putting on the layers I knew that I would be breaking out into a sweat regardless of how cold it was. When I got to the Lonesome Lake Trail the snowshoes were put on. The trail was well packed but the snowshoes provided some good traction.

Cannon Mountain

On Lonesome Lake

The Kinsmans from Lonesome Lake

It was a nice smooth hike and I met several hikers coming down, most saying they had only gone as far as Lonesome Lake Hut. As I predicted the sweat was pouring off of me but I kept going and would be able to change into dry layers at the hut. I arrived at Lonesome Lake and followed the path across to the hut. The wind picked up a little in the open terrain but it wasn't bad, the sun actually felt great...and warm!

Lonesome Lake Hut

At the hut I dropped my poles and snowshoes at the door and went inside. Even though I could still see my breath in the hut it felt very warm. There were several hikers preparing to leave and one of the croo was cleaning. I was told there had been a recent fire in the fireplace. It looked very cozy with the rocking chair by the fireplace and the sun streaming in through the windows. I changed into dry layers and had a snack. This was only a brief stay and I was soon out the door and on my way back down.

Lafayette Campground

Cannon Mountain

Summit of Cannon Mountain

It felt good to get those dry layers on. The trip back across the lake was spectacular with views of Franconia Ridge and the surrounding mountains. On the other side I continued my descent down the Lonesome Lake Trail. There were several hikers making their way up as I descended. It was a quick trip back to the trailhead and a lot less sweat on the descent.

Red-faced at the end of a cold hike

A great pair of snowshoes

Toe warmers worked great

Cannon Cliffs

One note about toe warmers that I learned this weekend. Yesterday I wore the toe warmers between two socks and on the bottom of my foot while skiing. For today's hike I wore them on top between two socks. I have been plagued by cold toes on the last couple of hikes and while skiing in the past. It was the perfect placement for each activity and the toes stayed perfectly warm. The hand warmers would occasionally get too warm so I would only wear the inserts until my fingers started getting cold again. One more noteworthy item and that's my MSR Denali Ascent snowshoes, they are great! They're easy to put on in the frigid temps, have great traction and the televators make steep climbs easy on the calves.

Skiers on Cannon

It was a beautiful drive back through Franconia Notch with a deep blue sky and snow-capped peaks. As I passed the Appalachia trailhead the hikers were back down at the one car that had been there all weekend. I couldn't help wonder how they managed to hike through such brutal weather conditions. My hike to Lonesome Lake satisfied the urge to get outdoors and enjoy a spectacular winter day in the mountains! 

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!


  1. This looks so awesome. It must feel so totally different to hike across the lake instead of following the planks and making the bridge crossing in the summer. I am looking forward to hiking up there this month for my
    birthday. Tell Jill. It will be my first real winter hike in the White's. Oh YeaH!

    1. I've been up there several times but it was my first time crossing the lake. It's a beautiful hiking destination any time but especially during the winter with a spectacular view of the snow-capped peaks along Franconia Ridge! You're going to enjoy this hike!

  2. Don, great blog post - love that hike ! JoAnne, have a blast!

    1. Thanks Jill...a perfect short hike for that day...packed powder trail, blue sky, frigid temps and a "warm" sun!

    2. I will. Thanks Jill! Enjoy your winter hikes.