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13 November 2016

Launching a Hike to Cannon Mountain from Tucker Brook Ski Trail


A lightly-used approach to Cannon Mountain (4,100 ft) is to hike along the Tucker Brook Ski Trail to Mittersill Peak (a 3,617 ft shoulder of Cannon).  And then from Mittersill Peak, hike the Richard Taft ski trail to Cannon Mountain.  Ski trails are notoriously steep, and this route is no exception, other than a few tenths of a mile at the beginning (northern end) of the hike.  This trek was done as an "out and back" hike that entailed a round-trip distance of about 6-miles.

Hiking this route is best done in early to mid-Autumn when the thick weeds along the corridor have died back, and before the deep snows of winter arrive.  Or alternatively, mid-Spring is another good time to hike this route, before the tick-laden weeds fill the corridor, and after the deep snow is all but gone.

During the winter months, hiking/snowshoeing along this route is banned.  The lower (northern section) of this trail coincides with a fee-based XC-ski trail network maintained by the Franconia Inn.  Accessing the upper portion of the route entails use of a corridor maintained by the fee-based Cannon Mountain Ski Area.

Shown below is a map with my route highlighted in yellow.  Unseen on this map are the many side trails at the lower (northern) end of the route.  These side trail are part of the Franconia Inn's XC-ski network.  Most of these side trails enter on the west side of the Tucker Brook Ski Trail.  Knowing that you want to maintain a southward direction of travel on this segment of the trek, it will be obvious that these trails are not to be followed.  However, there is one less-obvious exception early on into the hike where you come to a "Y" junction.  Here, you should follow the right-hand fork.

It should also be mentioned that this route is un-blazed.  However, the trail definition is such that it is easily followed. 
Map showing my route.  It was done as an "out and back" hike that entailed a round-trip distance of about 6-miles.

I have hiked this route to Cannon Mountain in the Spring of 2015, and in Autumn of 2016.  Shown below are a few snapshots taken during both seasons.
Photo taken at lower (northern) end of trail during my Autumn hike.  The trail is relatively flat at the outset.  But further on, it gets MUCH steeper, and remains steep for nearly the entire distance to Mittersill Peak and onward to Cannon Mountain.
Photo taken along an upper portion of Tucker Brook Ski Trail during my Spring hike.
Another photo taken during my Spring hike.  This panorama shows the view from Mittersill Peak looking southward toward Cannon Mountain (at CENTER), with peaks in Franconia Range (at far LEFT), and peaks in Kinsman Range (at far RIGHT)
This photo was taken from Cannon Mountain during my Autumn hike. It's looking northeasterly at Mittersill Peak with mountains in neighboring State of VT seen on distant horizon.
Looking at nearby Franconia Mountain Range from the top of Cannon Mountain 
(Photo taken during my Autumn hike)

This non-traditional route to Cannon Mountain utilizes ski trails that were constructed in the 1930s by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps).  The vast majority of this route is on public USFS land.  However, at the beginning (northern end) of the route, the corridor passes through a short section of private land which isn't an issue as long as you stick to the trail.

Following this non-traditional route from the end of Tucker Brook Road to the top of Cannon Mountain involves a one-way distance of about 3-miles, with an elevation gain of a bit over 2,900 ft.

Conventional hiking trails are the more traditional, and more commonly used routes to Cannon.  These trails are listed below, along with their distance (one-way), and elevation gain.

_ Kinsman Ridge Trail: 2.2 miles; 2,200 ft elevation gain
_ Lonesome Lake Trail; Hi-Cannon Trail; Kinsman Ridge Trail: 2.8 miles; 2,350 ft elevation gain
_ Lonesome Lake Trail; Kinsman Ridge Trail: 3.2 miles; 2,350 ft elevation gain



Rita Wechter said...

I'm always amazed at the elevation gains of your hikes, John. Your lungs must be in great shape!

Even though we have higher mountains here in the west, many times our trailheads also start at very high elevations and go from there. For instance, for one of the 14,000 foot peaks we hiked in Colorado the trailhead starts at an elevation of 12,000 feet so it's only a 2000 foot elevation gain! (Still pretty difficult, though!)

As with many of the trails you hike, the lower portion of this trail looks like a nice place to cross-country ski. Have you ever skied here?

Another great post!

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Rita,

Thanks for your comments!

Regarding your comment about my “lungs must be in great shape”. They seem to get the job done, but think that my handling the elevation gain is more related to the slow, but steady pace that I set. I’m not the fastest hiker . . . for sure! :-)

You asked if I’ve ever cross-country skied the lower portion of the Tucker Brook Trail. Yes I have, and although it’s certainly a nice place to ski, I usually ski at other venues that seem to be a better fit for my personal abilities, likes/dislikes.


Karl said...

Hi John,

Thanks for sharing. You have some great shots and I really like how you contrasted the two hikes (spring and fall).

I was just looking back to another trip report when you hiked (down) the Mittersill Cannon Trail. Where does this trail fall on the map you have above? It looks like it falls somewhere in the middle, but probably closer to the Kinsman Ridge Trail. I think I read a report earlier this summer that said this trail is in disarray right now from construction.


1HappyHiker said...

Hi Karl,

Thank you for your comments!

You asked about an older report I wrote about a Cannon/Mittersill trek. That little adventure was a loop hike that involved several trails, one being the Mittersill-Cannon Hiking Trail. And, as you intimate, the future of that trail is uncertain, and is currently closed because of construction at the Mittersill Ski Area.

Regarding your question about the positioning of the Tucker Brook Ski Trail (TBST) versus the Mittersill-Cannon Hiking Trail (MCHT), the MCHT runs a roughly parallel course east of the TBST. The TBST begins from a wooded area at the end of Tucker Brook Road, whereas the MCHT begins at a parking lot off of Mittersill Road.