A Backcountry Gem
Skiing Cannon Mountain's Tucker Brook Trail
By Marc Chalufour
AMC Outdoors, February 2010
When Cannon Mountain in Franconia, N.H. first attracted backcountry skiers in the early 1930s, they were drawn to the western slope. Several trails, including the popular Tucker Brook Trail, were built before attention turned to the north slope. Later, the Taft Trail was completed on the northern side in 1933 and when the first aerial tramway in the U.S. was completed in 1938, it, too, was on the mountain's north slope. Tucker Brook was left to the loyal backcountry devotees who have kept the trail alive for decades since.
Sel Hannah was one of Tucker Brook's creators. Shortly before his death in 1991, he spoke with David Goodman, author of several AMC books on backcountry skiing, He said that the trail endured for simple reasons: "It was very fun, it didn't get too much traffic, and it was like old-fashioned skiing: powder snow, no packing, no grooming."
The very tramway that diverted attention away from Tucker Brook also makes it more accessible. Skiers can access the trail via Cannon Mountain Ski Area (lift ticket required). From the top of the tramway, head down the Taft Slalom and through the abandoned Mittersill Ski Area. Head over the Mount Mittersill knoll and keep an eye out for the entrance to Tucker Brook on the left.
The descent begins with a series of switchbacks—"13 Turns"—before heading briefly south then northwest along Meadow Brook (Tucker Brook, oddly enough, is located elsewhere). The final two miles of trail widen and begin to level off before ultimately merging with a cross-country ski trail network. In all, the trail plummets nearly 3,000 feet within 3 miles.
Tucker Brook is popular with both alpine and telemark skiers as well as snowboarders, however visitors should note that the trail is not part of the Cannon Mountain Ski Area. Tucker Brook is a difficult trail, and is unmaintained and unpatrolled.
Intrepid skiers can climb Tucker Brook for free, while those arriving via Cannon Mountain Ski Area should first shuttle a car to the base of the trail.
Distance: 4 miles (from Cannon Mountain Ski Area tramway)