Table of Contents

The Lonesome Lake Hut (elevation 2,760 feet) is the most accessible of the huts, and so is an excellent introduction to the White Mountains, very popular with families wanting to introduce their children to the outdoors. The lake is a major attraction, and there is a small sandy beach near the hut. A very attractive trail goes all around the lake, and those desiring more challenging hikes can go to Kinsman Pond, or the nearby summits of the Kinsmans and Cannon.

This is a very popular location, and on a nice summer weekend you may well wonder why this lake was ever called "Lonesome"!

The AMC web site has a page on the Lonesome Lake Hut, with information on the hut, season of operation and rates. Here I give hiking information that supplements what they offer, describing the most frequently used access routes (with distances, elevation gains and book time), and some of the trips that can utilize the hut, including hut to hut trips.

Lonesome Lake Hut in Winter

Staring in December 2002 it has been open in winter on a "self service" basis:

At AMC Self-service huts, guests provide their own food and have full use of the hut's stove, oven, and cookware to prepare their own meals. Bunks, mattresses, and pillows are provided, but blankets are not. Be sure to bring a warm sleeping bag if you're staying at a self-service hut.

The cooking and dining areas are heated (moderately!) in winter, but the remote bunkhouses are not. Temperatures may be expected to be about as cold as in a tent, so a real winter bag, rated to about -20°F, is advisable.

Getting to Lonesome Lake Hut

Lonesome Lake and Cascade Brook Trails

The most common approach starts from Lafayette Place and uses the Lonesome Lake Trail to reach the northern end of the Lake, rising almost 1,000 feet through open hardwoods most of the way. The mountain slope is steep, but a pair of switchbacks eases the grade substantially. This part is especially pleasant in winter, when the fallen leaves allow good views across the notch to the Franconia Ridge. On reaching the lake the Cascade Brook trail follows the east shore to the junction with the Fishin' Jimmy Trail which leads to the hut (ow: 1.6 miles, 950 feet, 1:15). The return trip is downhill all the way (ow: 1.6 miles; 0 feet; 0:55).

Basin-Cascade and Cascade Brook Trails

A longer, and more interesting, approach is by the Basin-Cascade and Cascade Brook trails (2.6 miles, 1,200 feet, 1:55). This starts at The Basin, and follows the scenic Cascade Brook closely for most of the distance, and passes by some interesting cascades. There are two stream crossings, and both may be difficult at high water or when icy. While the grades are easy the footing is often rough except, of course, when it is covered with snow. The return trip involves no elevation gain (ow: 2.6 miles; 0 feet; 1:20).

Routes to Lonesome Lake Hut
Route Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
Lonesome Lake Trail, to hut 1.6 950 1:15
Basin-Cascades Trail, to hut 2.6 1,200 1:55
Lonesome Lake Trail, from hut 1.6 0 0:55
Basin-Cascades Trail, from hut 2.6 0 1:20

For routes to Lonesome Lake Hut from Greenleaf Hut please refer to the Greenleaf Hut page.

Hikes from Lonesome Lake Hut

Hikes of all levels are possible from the hut. The easiest is a flat walk around the lake. Those wanting more lakes can do a round trip to Kinsman Pond and back, while the more ambitious can hike up to Cannon Mountain, the Cannonballs or the Kinsmans, alone or in combination. I will only describe a few of the many possible trips.

All of these hikes are fairly short, and instead of returning to the hut most people will want to return to their cars. Add about an hour to book time if returning by the Lonesome Lake Trail, about 1:30 if returning by the Cascade Brook Trail.

Walk Around the Lake

This is a delightful walk of about 0.8 miles of flat terrain. The west side of the loop starts out over a wet section (with log bridges), then continues close to the lake to its north end, where there is a nice clearing near the junction of the Lonesome Lake and Cascade Brook trails. There are good views of the Kinsman Ridge from that clearing. The remainder of the loop is much wetter, with many log bridges. To compensate there are far more openings which allow excellent views of the Franconia Ridge to the east.

In mid-winter, when the ice is solid, crossing the lake gives wonderful views in all directions. Beware of potentially thin ice near the outlet!

Kinsman Pond

The Fishin' Jimmy Trail climbs 1,200 feet over 1.8 miles from the hut to Kinsman Junction, from which the Kinsman Pond Trail goes south for about 0.1 miles to the shelter at the north end of the pond. There are many ups and downs along the trail, with a couple of steep sections (rt: 3.8 miles; 1,400 feet; 2:35).

The Kinsmans

After reaching Kinsman Junction follow the Kinsman Ridge trail (part of the AT) south. It climbs rather steeply to North Kinsman, then descends to a col and rises again to South Kinsman. There are excellent views from a ledge just south of the summit of North Kinsman, while the south knob of South Kinsman's summit is bare, with 360° views.

Cannon Mountain

There are two trails that can be used to reach the summit of Cannon Mountain from the hut, and they can be combined as a loop. Both trails have the same distance and elevation gain. I will describe the loop, you can make a round trip using either branch. From the hut follow the Basin Cascade Trail along the west shore of the lake to the junction with the Lonesome Lake and Dodge Cutoff trails at the north end of the lake. Take the Dodge Cutoff to the Hi Cannon Trail, then follow the Hi Cannon Trail to its junction with the Kinsman Ridge Trail. This section of the Hi Cannon Trail is steep and rough, and uses a ladder to go up a ledge. Once you reach the Kinsman Ridge Trail follow it north to the summit.

To return take the Kinsman Ridge Trail to its junction with the Lonesome Lake Trail (beyond the junction with the Hi Cannon) and follow the Lonesome Lake Trail down to the lake. To complete the loop follow the east shore of the lake to the hut. The section of the Kinsman Ridge Trail going down to the Lonesome Lake Trail is steep and rough.

Note: However you climb Cannon Mountain expect steep slopes and rough footing. The summit of this mountain is less than 3 miles and 2,500 feet from the road, but all three trails that lead to it are far less easy than these numbers would indicate!

Trips from Lonesome Lake Hut
Route Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
Around the Lake 0.8 0 0:25
To Kinsman Pond 3.8 1,400 2:35
To North Kinsman 5.0 1,950 3:30
To South Kinsman 6.8 2,600 4:40
To Cannon Mountain 4.6 1,400 3:00

Routes to Neighboring Huts

Since Lonesome Lake Hut is at the western end of the chain, it has only one neighbor, the Greenleaf Hut.

Routes to Greenleaf Hut

The normal way of going from Lonesome Lake Hut to Greenleaf Hut is to descend by the Lonesome Lake Trail to Lafayette Place. There are two choices from this point.

The shorter is to go up the Old Bridle Path to the hut. This route has some excellent views from many outlooks along the upper part of the trail. There is a steep section, known as the Agonies, but overall the grades are rather easy.

The longer, and far more scenic, route goes up the Falling Waters Trail to Little Haystack, then traverses along Franconia Ridge over Mount Lincoln to the summit of Mount Lafayette, then descends to the hut by the Greenleaf Trail. In good weather this is one of the most scenic (and most crowded) routes in the White Mountains.

From Lonesome Lake to Greenleaf Hut
Route Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
By Old Bridle Path 4.5 2,450 3:30
Falling Waters and Franconia Ridge 7.5 3,850 5:40