Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Cannon Loop Hike

It felt like a good day to hike in Franconia Notch. My route today would take me on a loop hike over Cannon Mountain (4,100'). I would be starting on the Lonesome Lake Trail then onto the Hi-Cannon Trail to the Kinsman Ridge Trail and up to the Observation Tower on the summit. On the return trip I would be descending on the Kinsman Ridge Trail to the Lonesome Lake Trail with a stop at the Lonesome Lake Hut and back down to the parking lot.

Cannon Mountain

Sun coming up over Franconia Ridge

First trail ice of the day

Mount Lincoln

I had every intention of hiking yesterday morning. But when I woke up and looked outside through the darkness the clouds were low and ugly with a damp cold in the air. A quick check of the weather didn't show much improvement until late in the day and Sunday's forecast was looking much better. So I decided to postpone my hike one day hoping for better weather although I have lived here in the mountains long enough to know not to rely on a weather forecast and be prepared for anything. When I got up this morning the starry sky was clear but I could see clouds moving in from the west. The weather report called for clouds to move in over the mountain areas during the day but no precipitation.

Clouds moving in

Lafayette and Lincoln

A large rock has fallen on the ladder

Looking up the ladder

Going up the ladder

So it was off to Franconia Notch. Along the way I could see that the Presidentials were draped in a heavy cloud cover. Off in the distance the Franconia ridge line was in the clear. As I got into Franconia Notch there were wisps of clouds going across the summits but nothing obscured. I pulled into the Lafayette Campground parking area and there was plenty of space available. The sun was not up over the mountains yet and it was cold with a wind blowing. I started out with three layers and also wore a thin layer beneath my Endo pants, thought that might be a little too warm but it turned out to be just right.

Looking down the ladder

The ledge beside the top of the ladder is ice-free

Caution sign for the ladder

A view down Franconia Notch

Lonesome Lake far below

I started out with a quick pace to warm up a bit. Saw a few other hikers but this would be a solo hike for me today. At 0.4 mile on the Lonesome Lake Trail I turned onto the Hi-Cannon Trail. I started to see a few spotty areas of ice on the trail but it was easy to get around and nothing that required traction. My concern was in the area of the ladder. But once again it was dry without any ice. There was a large rock resting on the bottom of the ladder. Seems it may have dislodged from the ledge above but has not affected the integrity of the ladder.

Lonesome Lake Hut is visible at the other end of the lake

The Kinsmans

Icy ledge

Sign tied on with a boot lace

There were some spectacular views from the ledges along this section of trail. Thin clouds were starting to move down through the notch but there was plenty of blue sky above and I was hoping to make it to the summit before more clouds arrived. There was a nice view of Lonesome Lake and it was frozen over except on the boggy end.

Lots of clouds below

Observation tower

Summit tram station

Colored ice

I reached the Kinsman Ridge Trail and there were a couple of hikers just coming down from the summit. They said the wind was blowing hard up there, I could hear it. Thought it might be a good time for me to change some layers. I took off a damp layer and my fleece and put on the primaloft jacket and changed my sweat-soaked hat. It was then on to the summit.

Sitting on the observation tower

Looking down at the ski lift

A brief glimpse of Franconia Ridge

Descending Kinsman Ridge Trail

Just before reaching the summit I took the Rim Trail. I could have saved a few steps, the clouds had rolled in and there were no views along this trail. I backtracked and went up to the observation tower on the summit. The clouds were quickly moving over the summit and through the notch. I caught a brief glimpse of the Franconia Ridge summits from the tower. Waiting around for a break in the clouds was not an option for me. The temperature was 21°F, the wind was blowing and I was getting cold. I began my descent to Lonesome Lake.

One of my favorite trees

Inside Lonesome Lake Hut

I set a good pace to warm up again while watching for ice on the trail. It was slow going down over the steep section of the Kinsman Ridge Trail. I turned onto the Lonesome Lake Trail and made my way down to the Lonesome Lake Hut. The bog bridges along Lonesome Lake had a coating of snow so it was careful walking to avoid slipping off into the water and getting wet feet.

Relaxing at the hut

Lonesome Lake Hut

Leaving the hut

A frozen Lonesome Lake

The Lonesome Lake Hut was empty when I got there and I had the place to myself. This was a nice spot to take a break, relax and have something to eat. I stayed long enough to finish my lunch then it was time to continue my descent to the Lafayette Campground completing my loop hike for today. Met several hikers on the way down. The temperature felt like it was getting colder but the wind was calming down.

Downy Woodpecker

I was hoping for some better views at the summit today but did manage to get some good views along the Hi-Cannon Trail. The trails were in good condition for the most part and I needed no traction but I do carry the microspikes this time of year, just in case. Snow flurries were in the air for most of the day but there was no accumulation. It was a nice late-November day to be out on the trails!

The observation tower on Cannon Mountain

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!


  1. Maybe this time I can get the comment to stick...Another easy read with superb images along the way.
    Thank you for posting this story and others; they keep me inspired to get out there.

    1. Thanks for visiting Outdoor Diversion and glad it motivates you to get out there on those mountain's a great place to be!