Dawn on Franconia Ridge / Dusk on Cannon Mountain

Date of Hike: 11/30/13

Old Bridle Path: 2.9 miles  /  Greenleaf Trail: 1.1 miles  /  Franconia Ridge Trail: 1.7 miles  /  Falling Water Trail: 3.2 miles
Kinsman Ridge Trail: 4.4 miles
Total Miles:  13.4 (6,100 feet elevation gained)
Click here for trail descriptions

Trip Report:
- Saturday I wanted to push myself a little bit so I decided to do sunrise speed hike of the classic Franconia Ridge loop in the morning, followed by relaxing in Lincoln for a few hours, then meet up with Alton and Cole for a quick hike up the Cannon Mountain.
- The weather was a balmy four degrees at 6 a.m. as I headed up the old Bridle Path.  There was not a cloud in the sky as an 'old moon' hung above Mount Liberty when I reached the outlooks along Agony Ridge.
-  South of Franconia Notch the horizon started to fill with orange and yellow colors while across the notch to the west was an awesome site as a phenomenal alpine glow rose above the peaks of the Kinsman Ridge.
-  Temperatures hung around zero as I made my way past the Greenleaf Hut and up the exposed western shoulder of Mount Lafayette.  Luckily there was no wind so I was easily able to maintain my body heat while taking in all the views.
- When I reached the summit I had finally made it into the sunlight and a huge fireball of sun was shining over the Pemigewasset Wilderness.  It was around 7:45 in the morning and I had the whole Franconia Ridge to myself, it was a great way to wake up.  With the lack of wind, the snow covered trail, and solitude, it made for a rare one on one hike across the ridge.
-  I made good time from Lafayette to Lincoln to Little Haystack, making sure to take pictures along the way.  However, after taking a picture approaching Little Haystack I somehow lost grip of my camera and it broke when it hit the ice covered trail.  So now I was on my back up to my back up, my Apple Phone.
- Once I hit Little Haystack it was back into the woods on the Falling Waters Trail.  The first quarter to a half mile had some nasty ice, lots of care required to not fall, slide, and lose control.  It would have been much easier ascending.  Once I made it to the switchback section the ice became more snow cover so I picked up speed until reaching the water crossings above Cloudland Falls.
- Cloudland and Staircase Falls were frozen with icicles, snow, and bubble ice.  The trail was very icy in spots through the waterfalls, once again it would have been much easier doing the loop in the opposite direction.  I ran into about a dozen hikers on my way out over the past couple of miles.  Everyone was pumped to hear there was no wind waiting for them up on the ridge.
- I made it to the car at 9 a.m. happy to have not taken one fall on the ice and bump my head.  Of course just as I said that to myself I opened the hatch back to the Jeep and the rear window smashed my forehead leaving a gash!  So to recap, I broke my camera and bashed my head while standing still, now that takes talent!
Speed hike two of the day started around 2:30, by this time the wind had started whipping and a few high clouds came rolling in.  The temperature was around 20 degrees but felt colder than my single digit morning hike because of the nasty wind that was swirling around the Cannon Mountain tram parking lot.
- I hadn't hiked with Alton in a few months and it was bitterly cold as we geared up.  However, I knew we would be hiking at our usual fast pace and since the trail is steep I figured we'd warm up and delayer within fifteen minutes.
- Alton, Cole, and I hit the trail and started up what I will refer to as the Kinsman Ice Rink Trail.  Alton set a good pace and we warmed up and delayered within a couple of minutes.  After the first half mile we passed a group of boy scouts and for the next mile we were hiking mostly on ice. 
- I had my microspikes, Alton had her hillsounds, and fancy pants had his four paw traction working to the full effect. 
- Since the air temperature was warmer than in the morning, I switched in the parking lot from my winter boots to my La Sportiva Crossover GTX's and Alton was wearing her Sportiva Raptor GTX, which are waterproof.  It was my first hike in the crossovers and I loved them.  For anyone who likes trail runners pick these up, they are very light, have a built in gaiter system, and are perfect for shoulder season hiking. 
- The last half mile or so to the summit is semi exposed to exposed as it travels in and out of the scrub. The wind was pretty strong and stopping would have chilled us to the bone, so we motored up to the ridge and hit the summit as quickly as possible.  When we reached the summit of Cannon Mountain it was Alton's third round completion of the 48 - 4,000 footers (Congrats, Alton!).  To celebrate she peed on a Christmas tree and then we blitzed back down the mountain.
-  We carefully maneuvered our way down the ice while Cole sped ahead.  Cole apparently became bored and started taking off his doggy jacket a few times to entertain himself.
- Finally after all the ice we were able to run out the final half mile back to the tram parking lot ending a fun and quick hike up one of the steeper trails in the Whites!
 Old Moon above Mount Liberty
 Mount Lincoln
 Old Bridle Path
 Dawn over Southern New Hampshire
 Cannon Mountain, North and South Kinsman with Lonesome Lake
 Alpine Glow over the Kinsmans and Lonesome Lake
Looking to Mount Liberty
 Cannon Mountain
 Old Bridle Path
 Greenleaf Hut and Mount Lafayette
 Alpine meadow near Eagle Lake
 Kinsman Ridge
 Cannon Mountain
 Kinsmans to Moosilauke
 Sun slowly taking over Cannon Mountain
 Mount Truman and Lincoln
 Mount Lincoln
 Some big ice below Mount Lincoln
 Cannon Mountain Ski Area
 Heading up the Greenleaf Trail
Cannon Mountain, Cannon Balls, and the Kinsmans
 North Lafayette
 Kinsman Ridge
 Greenleaf Hut and Cannon Mountain
 Mount Lafayette Summit
 Sun shining bright over the Pemigewasset Wilderness
 Mount Garfield, Galehead, South and North Twin
 Franconia Ridge / Garfield Ridge / Greenleaf Trail Junction
 Franconia Ridge
 Owl's Head
 Franconia Ridge Trail southbound
 Heading up Mount Truman
 Moutn Lafayette from Mount Truman
 Heading south to Mount Lincoln
 Lincoln / Truman Slides
 Mount Lafayette
 Owl's Head
 Mount Lincoln
 Franconia Ridge to Little Haystack, Liberty, and Flume
 Early morning solar blast in the White Mountains
 Approaching Little Haystack
 Mount Lincoln
 Cannon Mountain from Little Haystack
 Little Haystack
 Fifth crossing of the Dry Brook
Fourth crossing of the Dry Brook 
 Falling Waters Trail
 Third crossing of the Dry Brook
 Icicles along the side of the Falling Waters Trail
 Cloudland Falls
Zoom in of Cloudland Falls 
Cloudland Falls in Dry Brook 
 Half frozen Dry Brook
 Second crossing of Dry Brook
 Staircase Falls
First Crossing of Dry Brook
 Kinsman Ridge Trail northern terminus
 Iced over Kinsman Ridge Trail
 Solid sheet of ice on the trail
Franconia Ridge from the Kinsman Ridge 
 Looking up to Cannon Mountain
 Franconia Ridge
 Franconia Notch
 Cole on the summit of Cannon Mountain
 Mount Lafayette and Lincoln
Looking south to Mount Liberty 
 Kinsman Ridge Trail - Ice Capades!
Descending the Kinsman Ridge Trail


  1. Chris, you got some spectacular photos up on the ridge! It was nice to see you in between your hikes, though at the time I didn't realize it was you. Your site has a wealth of excellent reports with great photos. I don't know how you take so many pics at the speed you hike! Keep up the good work.

    Steve Smith

    1. Thanks Steve! It was nice to meet you, too. It was my first time in your store, great little shop you have there. I'll make sure to stop on by again and make sure to introduce myself. Thanks for all that you put into the White Mountain Guide, I wear out all my copies!

  2. Super Hikers!


  3. Wow, incredible pictures! I can only hope to see alpine glow like this one day! Thanks for sharing :)

    1. Thanks Kevin! It was a great way to start the day, hope you're able to catch it one day!