Trail: Lonesome Lake Trail > Hi-Cannon Trail > Kinsman Ridge Trail
Hours: 4:15 hiking; 5:15 total
June 3, 2018
Cannon Mt. (4,100’) is one of the shortest 4,000-footers, but don’t let that fool you into thinking this hike is easy! The summit of Cannon Mt. isn’t completely above the treeline, but there is a fire tower on the summit which provides beautiful views of Franconia Notch!
NOTE: The trail gains 2,300 feet of elevation in 2.8 miles, so this hike gets STEEP. There are a few relentless steep sections made of dirt which makes it difficult to find good footing. There are a few trails leading to the summit, but we heard Hi-Cannon was one of the “better” trails. We found out after that Kinsman Ridge Trail is a bit easier.
Alex and I started our journey to the summit of Cannon Mt. at 9:30 AM on a beautiful June day. It was in the low 70s with no humidity which was perfect hiking weather! The trailhead was fairly easy to find since it was right by Lafayette Campground. The trailhead to Lincoln and Lafayette is across the street, so the street was packed.
The first 0.3 miles of Lonesome Lake Trail was very easy (such a tease) until it intersected with Hi-Cannon Trail. If we were to continue left, it would have brought us to Lonesome Lake. We opted to go right onto Hi-Cannon and head to the summit first, so we could enjoy the lake afterward. The trail completely changed once we turned onto Hi-Cannon Trail. We heard parts of the trail were eroded, but we decided to hike it anyways.
We gained about 1,000 feet of elevation per mile, so our legs burned! It doesn’t help that this trail lacks great traction, so our calves wanted to fall off. The trail eventually switched from being eroded to rocky. There were so many little rocks which didn't help with traction either! The only thing we could do was be mindful of where we were putting our feet. I can’t tell you how many times we looked up for one step and slipped. Don’t worry, we didn’t hurt ourselves! I was scared for my life only a few times.
We soon came up to some switchbacks along the trail which was a relief to our legs. There were also a few rock scrambles as we approached the end of the trail and a LADDER. Yup, there was a wooden ladder that brought us over rock slabs that would be otherwise impossible to climb. And yes, it was sketchy, so don’t look down. Once we got to the top of the ladder, we had to scurry across a thin piece of wood to rock scramble some more. As I said, don’t look down. Vertigo is a real thing, and no one needs that while on a steep incline!
At the end of Hi-Cannon Trail, we crossed Kinsman Ridge Trail which we followed to the right to head to the summit. This part of the trail wasn’t tough, but our legs were definitely shaking! As we approached the summit, we were surrounded by people casually dressed without any sweat on their foreheads. We forgot people could pay to take the tram to the summit. Luckily, the Cannon’s summit wasn’t too packed when we arrived around 11:45 AM. We were able to get a seat right by the edge of the tower to enjoy the views while eating lunch. As always, once Alex whipped out his handy-dandy expensive camera, everyone flocked to him asking if he would take their picture thinking he must be a master photographer *eye roll*. JK, he is an amazing photographer, so their assumptions were correct.
After Alex was done being everyone’s photographer, we began our descent. We descended down Kinsman Ridge Trail until it intersected with Lonesome Lake Trail. We had our fingers crossed that this would be an easier descent but BOY, were we wrong!! This trail was steep, and part of it was completely gone due to erosion. Sounds exciting? NOPE. I was only a tad bit scared since the drop was almost completely vertical. I hope they fix the trail soon!
We were beyond excited to head to Lonesome Lake thinking it would perfect to dip our toes in after a good hike! Although it was beautiful, it was also… gross. It was marshy and muddy, so there were bugs everywhere. We walked around the lake and got a beautiful view of the mountains over the lake. After we took in the view, we headed back to the trail. The rest of the descent was uneventful besides having to be mindful of our steps.
We practically hugged our car once we got to it at 2:45 PM. We were surprised at how tough this hike was, but it was mostly due to the trail conditions. It's a good hike if you are looking for something short but moderately difficult. However, make sure it didn’t rain recently, and you have the right shoes. You need all the traction you can get if the trail conditions still aren’t great!
Have you hiked Cannon before? What trail did you take to the summit?