First Whites Hike of the Summer Season: Kinsman Range

Most people start their hiking season in May, typically during Memorial Day weekend. For us, that didn’t happen this year. With weddings (including our own) and a few hiccups (car and health problems), we finally started off our summer hiking in the White Mountains the weekend after July 4th. Our first two attempts were for Mount Cabot and we never summited. We thought with our next attempt of a 4,000-footer hike would best not be Mount Cabot. Save our last attempt for another time – third time’s the charm right? Instead, we opted for North Kinsman (4,293 feet) and South Kinsman (4,358 feet), located in the Kinsman Range in Franconia, New Hampshire.

We began our hike on the Lonesome Lake Trail located in the Lafayette Place Parking Lot in Franconia Notch State Park. The first 1.5 miles are fairly easy with flat, gradual ascending terrain starting by cutting through the campground. It is a very popular hike as many families like to hike to, and stay at, the Lonesome Lake Hut. We were actually surprised to see many families on the trail as it was a rainy day and not all too pleasant to hike in. I was certainly having an off day as it was a combination of not feeling too well and hiking my first 4,000-footer hike in about eight months. It was definitely a slow hike to begin with.

From the Lonesome Lake Hut, it’s a moderate, rocky (and wet) 2.2-mile ascent on the Fishin’ Jimmy Trail to the Kinsman Ridge Trail/Appalachian Trail and another 0.4-mile until the summit of North Kinsman. Nothing too thrilling to see at the summit as it is directly on the trail. We didn’t stop as a Boston AMC group was taking their break on the North Kinsman summit and we would be retracing our steps to descend back to our car.


This is the only indication that you’ve reached the North Kinsman summit.

We continued 0.9 miles on the Kinsman Ridge trail to South Kinsman. This portion of the trail is much more pleasant and easy to deal with as it is along the ridgeline and only a few hundred feet in descending and acceding between the two peaks. We encountered three hikers who were surprised to see others on the trail. Surprise surprise! There are people who will hike – rain or shine. Anyhow, the summit is just off to the east of the trail in an open area. No sign marks the summit but it’s obvious as the trail descends on either of the point as we looked around to make sure. We took a break to eat but it didn’t last long as the weather was still wet and cold. We took our obligatory summit photos and made our way back to North Kinsman to do the same as the Boston AMC group was gone.


Family photo on South Kinsman.

The 2.2-mile descent on the Fishin’ Jimmy Trail was a slow one with steep, slippery rocks to contend with. When I was about ¼ mile from the Lonesome Lake Hut, Chris and Milo turned around to see where I was at as I was taking a little longer than usual. My excuse was that I stopped to eat as I’m not a big fan of eating on the go.

Just a little beyond the junction of Fishin’ Jimmy Trail and Lonesome Lake Trail, we saw some stopped hikers as they saw a single rose off the trail. It was perfectly planted rose that seemed amiss in these New England woods. It was definitely a sight to see but pretty cool. We’ll chalk it up to Sasquatch.


The magical rose.

It was easy peasy from the Lonesome Lake Hut to the Lafayette Place Parking Lot. We were a bit speedier towards the tail end and made it back to the car in good time. Overall, an 11.2-mile easy to moderate hike that can certainly be done with family members of all ages. With the Kinsman mountains complete, that means five more to go! The countdown is on.

32px-Black_Paw.svgA Dog’s Walk:
The Kinsman’s are an easy to moderate hike. The easiest parts are the 1.5 miles on the Lone Lake Trail as they are flat and gradual ascending terrain and the 0.9 miles on the ridge to South Kinsman as they are also pretty flat. The only difficult part would be the 2.2 miles on the Fishin’ Jimmy Trail and 0.4 miles on the Kinsman Ridge Trail as the terrain is more moderate and steep but certainly do-able. No need to boost your pooch for any part of this hike. There’s also plenty of water along the trail, including at the Lone Lake Hut, in case your dog needs some hydration. Overall, a great, long hike for your furry companion that will surely tucker them out by the end of the day! Milo surely loved it despite being wet and muddy from all the rain.




The Last of the NH48 Ski Mountains: Cannon Mountain

This past Saturday brought us another mountain closer on the NH48 list. We opted for a short day hike on Cannon Mountain, the last of the official ski resort mountains in the White Mountains (Mount Tecumseh and Wildcat A & D Peak are the other ski mountains). Cannon Mountain, formerly known as Profile Mountain, at an elevation of 4,100 feet is part of the Kinsman Range located in Franconia, NH. It is home to Cannon Mountain Ski Area and the Old Man of the Mountain (RIP May 2003).


Cannon Aerial Tram

We started our day arriving at the Cannon Aerial Tram parking lot around 8 a.m. with our friend PJ and Milo in tow. Only a handful of cars were in the parking lot by the time we arrived but that would quickly change as the day progressed. There’s really only one trail up Cannon: Hi-Cannon Trail/Kinsman Ridge Trail. It is 2.1 miles and runs almost parallel to the Cannon Aerial Tram (which is VERY popular). Once we were ready with our gear, we were off on the trail, located just behind a gravel mound to the far side of the parking lot. It is a moderate to difficult hike as the elevation gain immediately starts. We encountered various trail conditions on this hike from loose dirt to wet rock slabs. The initial part of the hike is quite different from most trails with a gravely sandy composition that was heavily eroded making it feel like we were down in a bobsled track. This eventually opens up to more traditional White Mountain hiking where we were doing switch backs up a glades ski trail. We had to be careful with navigating the rock slabs because one could easily slip on them. As you near about 0.7 or so from the summit, the trail becomes a mixture of rocks, roots and dirt, eventually flattens out to a muddy trail that leads to a viewing point on the left, and finally to a 0.2 – 0.3 mile somewhat scrambly ascent to the summit where we encountered the Rim Trail.

We followed the Rim Trail to the observation tower that provides a terrific view of the White Mountains. We opted to stop by the tower last (for our photos) and passed it on our way to the restaurant and tram area where MANY tourists began disembarking. We finally chose an area that wasn’t roped off (many of the ski trails and areas on the mountain were roped off due to environmental and safety reasons), relaxed and ate lunch while people watching. I was really tempted on taking the tram down because I could and I felt very lazy that day but eventually decided not to as it was only a 2.1 mile descent.


No exploring the ski trails.

Not wanting to hang out with the droves of people any longer, we made our way down Cannon (stopping at the tower for our official summit photo). As we descended, we encountered many tourists including a family who didn’t know the way back to the tram. Don’t worry we pointed them in the right direction after we thought they wanted the hiking trail down. There were plenty of traffic jams as we tried navigating our way down the mountain with plenty of people ascending it. Many, as it turned out, were hiking up the mountain and taking the tram down including a Boy Scout troop. I don’t think some were prepared to do the hike, but that’s just my opinion. And a handful of them didn’t exhibit signs of trail etiquette like not blocking the trail when resting.


View from the Observation Tower.

Anyways, a majority of the 2.1-mile hike was a slow and steady descent as many wet rocks were encountered and some butt sliding was done. Didn’t want any accidents to happen! I was a bit speedier when I encountered the loose dirt. It was a good day hike that was capped off with ice cream and a visit to the New England Ski Museum (free admission). The ski museum is a must see if you haven’t been. It’s certainly small but it houses Bode Miller’s Olympic medals (he grew up skiing at Cannon) and shows a bit of ski history. We were even able to bring Milo in – normally dogs aren’t allowed inside but the museum worker made an exception as we were carrying Milo like a baby throughout the room.

31 down, 17 more to go!

32px-Black_Paw.svg  A Dog’s Walk:

The Hi-Cannon Trail/Kinsman Ridge trail is certainly a moderate to difficult hike for dogs as it is very steep with loose dirt, and plenty of loose rocks and rock slabs (wet and dry) to navigate and scramble on. There were times when Milo needed some coaxing but he was able to do it all with ease. This is actually a hike that is likely easier for smaller, lower to the ground dogs as there are several points where they will be scrambling up steep rock slabs. There was no shortage of dogs on the trail either, all in varying sizes. As always, beware of your dog’s ability (especially on rock scrambles), keep them hydrated (no steady water sources along the trail), and give them breaks when needed.




© Elizabeth Tran 2011-2017