Table of Contents

These notes are written to help you compare the various routes that are commonly used to hike to the peaks. They are written on the assumption that you have a guidebook and a set of maps, so no directions are given to trailheads, and the trails are not described in any detail. I have omitted hikes that are substantially longer or more difficult than the standard ones, or that are simply less often used. The fact that a trail is not mentioned here does not imply that it is unsuitable.

Mountain Weather Forecast

The Recreation Report for New Hampshire and Western Maine gives a two day forecast for higher elevations (separate forecasts for elevations of 2,500 to 4,000 feet and for above 4,000 feet). There is also a point forecast for South Kinsman.

Online Map

If you do not have a printed map handy you may want to look at a Topozone map of the Kinsman Ridge while reading the text.

Hut and Established Trailside Campsites

The four summits in this area are normally done as dayhikes, the shelters here are mainly for AT hikers and the hut for families.

The AMC operates one hut and two backcountry campsites in this area. Fees are charged at the hut and the Kinsman Pond shelter, reservations are advised at the hut, but there are no reservations at the campsites.

Franconia Notch Recreational Trail (Bike Path)

The bike path (maintained by the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation) connects many of the trailheads in Franconia Notch, and is useful when making loops with only one car. The following table gives the cumulative distances (in both directions) and elevations of several locations on the path.

Distances on the Franconia Notch Recreational Trail
Location Elevation Distance
Visitor Center 1,400 0.0 8.8
Whitehouse Bridge 1,400 0.9 7.9
Basin (West) 1,520 1.8 7.0
Lafayette Place 1,770 3.5 5.3
Profile Lake 1,960 4.8 4.0
Old Man Viewing 1,960 5.5 3.3
Cannon Tramway 1,980 6.0 2.8
Echo Lake 1,940 6.6 2.2
Skookumchuck Trailhead 1,700 8.8 0.0

Kinsman Ridge

Mount Kinsman

I will only describe routes to both peaks of Mt. Kinsman, since the only practical way to reach South Kinsman is over North Kinsman. So if you do North Kinsman alone on one trip, you will have to go over it again when doing South Kinsman. The most common route up the Kinsmans is by the Lonesome Lake, Cascade Brook, Fishin' Jimmy and Kinsman Ridge trails (rt: 10.0 miles, 3,550 feet, 6:45). Another approach from Franconia Notch is from the Basin by the Basin Cascades, Cascade Brook, Kinsman Pond and Kinsman Ridge trails (rt: 11.0 miles, 3,450 feet, 7:15). The Kinsman Pond trail is very rough, and in places very wet.

They may also be approached from the west by taking the Mt. Kinsman Trail to the Kinsman Ridge Trail (10.0 miles, 3,900 feet, 7:00), this is the approach recommend by Dan Doan in his Fifty Hikes in the White Mountains.

Cannon Mountain

All three routes up Cannon are short, but they are also steep and rough. One approach is by the Lonesome Lake and Kinsman Ridge trails (rt: 6.2 miles, 2,300 feet, 4:15). A second approach is by the Lonesome Lake, High Cannon and Kinsman Ridge trails (rt: 5.6 miles, 2,300 feet, 3:55). The third approach is from the Tramway parking lot by the Kinsman Ridge Trail (rt: 4.0 miles, 2,100 feet, 3:15).

Northeast Cannonball

The Northeast Cannonball is a small prominence on the Kinsman Ridge that rises high enough to be included on the NE Hundred Highest peaks list. It lies about 0.2 miles south of Coppermine Col (junction of Lonesome Lake and Kinsman Ridge trails), about 340 feet above the col. If done in conjunction with Cannon Mountain it will add about 20 minutes to the trip. Though the added section is short, it is steep and rocky.

It may also be done alone, by the Lonesome Lake and Kinsman Ridge trails (rt: 5.0 miles; 2,000 feet; 3:30).

Mount Kinsman and Cannon Mountain

It is possible to combine the Kinsmans and Cannon in a long trip. The easiest way is probably up the Lonesome Lake, Fishin' Jimmy and Kinsman Ridge trails to North Kinsman, then out to South Kinsman and back, and then go northwards on the Kinsman Ridge Trail to Cannon, returning by the Kinsman Ridge and Lonesome Lake trails (lp: 13.0 miles, 4,700 feet, 8:50). The going along the Kinsman Ridge Trail is very rough, this trip is considerably more strenuous than the numbers might indicate. In addition to the Kinsmans and Cannon you get to bag the Northeast Cannonball (see above for other routes).

To summarize, here are the distances, elevation gains and book times of the various possible routes to the Kinsman Ridge peaks:

Routes to Kinsman Ridge Peaks
Route Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
Mt. Kinsman by Lonesome Lake, Fishin' Jimmy 10.0 3,550 6:45
Mt. Kinsman by Basin-Cascade, Kinsman Pond 11.0 3,450 7:15
Mt. Kinsman by Mt Kinsman Trail 11.4 4,100 7:45
Cannon Mtn. by Lonesome Lake to Ridge 6.2 2,300 4:15
Cannon Mtn. by Lonesome Lake, Hi Cannon 5.6 2,300 3:55
Cannon Mtn. by Kinsman Ridge 4.0 2,100 3:15
Mt. Kinsman and Cannon Mtn. 13.0 4,700 8:50