What can I say about this hike? I think one word sums it up, beautiful!
Lonesome Lake is a wonderful location for families or anyone who wants to spend some quality time in the mountains. The views are incredible. Basically, it’s a small slice of heaven in the Franconia Notch State Park. You can find out more about Lonesome Lake, here.
The lake has an AMC Hut about 400 ft from the lake. For more information about the hut, you can find it — here. This is a popular hut during the summer time, so plan ahead.
We planned to stop by this hut for our normal break routine. ie.. water refill, bathroom, snack time, let M out and run around. During, our short visit, I heard the same question asked several times by different hikers. I have heard this question asked at other hut locations. So, I am going to take a moment and answer it. And for anyone that needs this question answered. I am sure the staff is sick of answering it. So, what’s the question, you wonder…..
“How do you guys get the food up here?”
The answer is simple the staff carries it up. There is no special helicopter delivery system, no ATV, no dirt bike and no green men from Mars who beam the food in. It’s that simple, the staff carries it up and cooks it for you. These are the same people, who answer your questions regarding your stay, trail details, clean up after you leave and brings down the trash they created and the trash that you forgot about or purposely left behind.
So, remember to thank them. Even when we are just passing through using the bathroom, siting at the table and refilling our water, we thank them. They are always preparing, planning and answering questions. Yes, they love their job, but a little appreciation goes along way.
And remember it’s not their job to carry down your trash. They carry up all the items to make sure stay at the hut is one of your best stays ever. They carry down the trash, so help them out by carrying down your own trash. We carry all our trash down, which includes M’s dirty diapers. Just do your part, even if it’s just a few tissues.
And please, do not ask this question again… 🙂
Okay, off he soapbox and onto our hike…
We parked at the Basin and walked the Pemi Trail to the Cascade Brook Trail. If you do not like water crossings this is NOT a hike for you. Your first major water crossing is tough. We ended up back tracking about 250 feet to find a location to cross. Your second major water crossing is at the junction of Basin – Cascade Trail and Cascade Brooke Trail. This bridge was washed out a few years ago and still has not been replaced. In high waters, there is no way to cross this with a child hiking or on your back.
There are other paths you can take to get to Lonesome Lake, such as, Lonesome Lake Trail. Pretty straight forward trail name on the map.
Here are some pictures from getting ready to go and the Basin area…
Yes, as of 2014 the bridge is still out. And do not get all upset about it. There are only so many volunteers to help rebuild and maintain trails and only so much funding.
Heavy rain, smelting snow and just good ol’ White Mountain weather can cause the water to run high. If you are unsure about crossing water then skip this trail and head up the Lonesome Lake Trail. If you are hiking during the early Spring and don’t want to carry a canoe for about 1.5 miles to Cascade Brook to cross then re-plan your route. All jokes aside, we travelled up and down the Cascade Brook to find the best place to cross. What is easy for a regular hiker with a 5 lb pack is not the same for one with a 42 lb pack with a moving child. It is a bit of a challenge.
Once you are on the Cascade-Brook Trail the climb is very easy. I use “very easy” since we have hiked the Jewel Trail, Webster-Jackson Trail, 19 Brook & 19 Mile Trail, Baldface and many others. The Cascade-Brook Trail is a great beginner trail up to Lonesome Lake minus the water crossing. The climb is gradual and the terrain is very basic. You will deal with some rocks but nothing too strenuous. Even though, it is a basic/easy trail, during or after a good rain, some of the terrain a bit more challenging. So, use a bit of caution.
During our hike up to the crossing… Miss M decided it was time for a nap.
Here is the junction of the Cascade Brook Trail and the Basin-Cascade Trail. Along with a few other trails.
This water crossing was a bit tricky, not as much, as the one we faced following the Pemi Trail before meeting up with the Cascade Brook Trail. We were about to cross when another hiker coming down the Cascade Brook Trail and gave us a hand. And no, that’s not the ’round of applause’ hand. He took the time to help me and M across the water. He stood in the middle and helped to guide me along to J. We could have done it alone, but this hiker took the time to show us generosity. Not many do, and we give him many thanks.
This crossing is not made for first timers or amateurs hiking with a toddler, one miss step or slip, you and yours will be mid-leg or laying in rapidly moving water and will hit every rock in the immediate area on your way down.
From this crossing, we ran into a group of hikers at another junction. This junction is for the Kinsman Trail or Kinsman Shelter and the Lonesome Lake Hut and Cascade Brook Trail. They were on their way to the Kinsman Pond, which you can access the from the Cascade Brook Trail, just turn left at this junction. We ended up taking some time to help their group decide what path was best for them based on time, water needs and their strength. We used our good old fashion AMC White Mountain Guide Map to give them a better visual of the trails, inclines and locations of huts.
I know shocking we are a high-tech family, but our go to item is a paper map that is secured in a waterproof plastic zip lock bag. In fact, we didn’t just use this map for this one instance, but we pulled it out at the junction point of Hi-Cannon Trail, Kinsman Trail Ridge and Cannon Mountain and Lonesome Lake Hut.
Once, you get to this junction for the Kinsman Trail & Shelter and Lonesome Lake Hut, you have 0.8 miles to Lonesome Lake then another about 500ft to the hut. The 0.8 miles is filled with bog bridge crossings and rocks. The rock trail is basic, but take note of the moss on the rocks. If you do not know what moss looks like it’s the green stuff on the rocks. The moss makes your footing troublesome. Just be wary of the moss. No need to slip and get an injury.
The whole hike up to Lonesome Lake is absolutely worth every view. I mean it, do a 360 and take in it the beauty. Since, we hiked Little Haystack to Mt. Lincoln to Mt. Lafayette to the Greenfield Hut and down the view of the that range was incredible. We took a moment and reminisced about our last summer hike of 2013 before carrying on up to the hut.
View across the lake
We spent some time at the hut. With helping the hikers at the junction and our normal scheduled hut time. We fell behind our time-table by an hour. An hour, is not much, but when facing some serious climbing the added time is very important BUT we cannot skip our rest time. Rest is so important during long hikes. We made the decision to head up to Cannon Mountain and two additional back up plans during our rest at the hut. All the while, M was snacking on your sandwich and talking to whoever or whatever would listen.
There are numerous trails up to Cannon Mountain. We took Hi-Cannon Trail. This is NOT a trail for those starting out nor a trail for the lone hiker with a toddler. This trail is tough and you will face many obstacles along the way including but not limited to stepping up on rocks, climbing over rock facings, climbing up rock facings, climbing rocks with views straight out and down and lastly a ladder. Yup, a ladder. To help you again, a l-a-d-d-e-r that is nailed to the rock facing. And the climbing is steep, some would say very steep and arduous.
The ladder part of the climb has two problematic areas. 1) You slip, you better recover really quickly. With a toddler on your back there is not room for error. So, take your time. 2) At the top of the climb, you do not have room to step up and off the ladder. You will need to step to left along a wood plank to step off the ladder then push yourself up to a standing position. You know, those ridiculous side squats or side lunges you either hate or ask yourself why someone is doing them. This would be where that training comes in pretty handy.
After this stressful point of the climb, you will deal with more rock facings and more climbing. It is rather basic to what you just faced, but it can still cause some trouble especially if you are fatigued. The best thing about making it up this far are the views.
Of course, I just pointed to the lookout areas and J took the photos. This means my daredevil husband was hanging off a ledge to capture a few images.
This is a panoramic photo that has been “stitched together” from multiple shots taken higher up from two different clearings.
After the ladder and the great views, you come to another junction, which is Kinsman Ridge Trail and Cannon Mt. Trail. This junction is the location where I suggest you rest and check your time. From here the summit of Cannon Mountain is a half mile. The views from the observation tower are amazing, but it is not worth putting yourself or hiking group in endanger due to weather or limited sunlight.
Your descent back to the hut will first be either Kinsman Trail Ridge or Hi-Cannon Trail are both challenging ascents and just as challenging if not more challenging descents because of fatigue. The Jimmy-Fishing trail is not as hard, but you will first have to make it to it.
With that said, J and I revisited our plan and pulled out the good ol’ map. We revisited our back-up plans and looked at all the trails down and decided the best route was for us to take the Tram down. Yeah, I know hiking up and not hiking down may not qualify as a true hike for some. But we made the best decision for us given the time and the fact that we hike with a toddler.
So, we hiked the half mile up to Cannon Mountain.
Ironically, we saw this sign posted. Be safe out there. Going up is only half the battle you still have to make it back down.
We climbed up the tower enjoyed the view, captured the moment and thought about the hike up. All what we accomplished, as a team and as a family to get to enjoy the fantastic view in perfect weather.
We climbed back down the stairs. J and I discussed how much we both really really wanted to hike down, but we kept to our back-up plan. We knew it was best and safety thing to do.
The Tram is located about 500 ft from the tower. It costs 26.00 for our family and you pay it at the bottom. The Tram ride is under 10 minutes. At the bottom, there is a gift shop and locations to sit and enjoy some food and drinks. The views from the Tram are wonderful. We met some really wonderful people on the Tram and another group of hikers that made the same decision we did after their climb up Cannon via the Kinsman Ridge Trail.
Now, don’t get your panties in a twist, we still had to walk four miles along the bike trail and Pemi Trail to get back to our vehicle. That my friends is the hardest part four miles full gear and nothing exciting to climb or to distract you. Honestly, it is like walking full gear in formation in boot camp the only thing missing was the drill sergeant.
We did stop along the trail to see the ‘Old Man of the Mountain’ Memorial.
The fall of Old Man of the Mountain….
In all honesty, the walk back to the car is a pleasant walk. But I can say I was extremely happy to make it to the car. My Garmin Fenix clocked our hike as 13 miles with a moving time of 7 hours and 30 minutes. We got back to the car at 530PM with an hour and half drive back to our home. If we hiked down the mountain we were looking at arriving at the car between 730 and 8PM with the travel ride home. We definitely made the right decision for our family. I would say from how Miss M looked like she was ready for a dinner, bath and her bed.
Here is the map of your hike….