On this hike you'll wind through beautiful woods and have great views of Mt Lafayette and the surrounding area. There is a lot of steep climbing as well as a peaceful hike around Lonesome Lake.
In winter, snowshoes/micro spikes/crampons are recommended. Coming back down Cannon in the snow and ice can be extremely treacherous (I spent a lot of time sliding on my butt, slowing down by strategically hitting/grabbing trees).
This loop could be done either direction, but counter-clockwise is recommended.
Start at the parking for the Lafayette Campground Visitor Center and head south along the Franconia Notch State Park Recreational Trail
where you'll run into another parking lot. From here, head west on Lonesome Lake Trail
and hike up this until you reach the junction with Hi-Cannon Trail
. Take a right onto Hi-Cannon Trail
up to Kinsman Ridge Trail
enjoying the views and the forest along the way. Near the top, right after the ladder, there are some excellent views of Mt. Lafayette. This section of the hike is extremely steep and strenuous, so be prepared and be careful.
At the junction with Kinsman Ridge Trail
, hike up to the junction with the ski area. To the left is a short spur (Cannon Tower Spur
) that leads to the observation tower; you can go up in the tower (signage says open weather permitting). There is an enclosed area at the top, but no matter what you can climb the steps to the upper deck. This is also a great time to grab some lunch at the mountain lodge provided you don't mind hiking down a short stretch of ski trail.
After a nice break, return to Kinsman Ridge Trail
and hike down to the junction with Lonesome Lake Trail
. In winter, this section may be very hard to descend safely. Turn onto Lonesome Lake Trail
and continue to the junction with Lonesome Lake Hut Trail
. Take Lonesome Lake Hut Trail
, and Cascade Brook Trail
around Lonesome Lake.
The Lonesome Lake Hut
is one of the nicer huts on the AT that is staffed and has breakfast and dinner. Turn right back onto Lonesome Lake Trail
at the junction with Cascade Brook Trail
. Continue until you get back to the parking lot.