Note: For complete trail descriptions, times, elevation, trailhead directions, and major features for Cannon Mountain and all of White Mountain National Forest, see the AMC White Mountain Guide or try our new White Mountain Guide Online.
Cannon Mountain (4,100’) is also known as Profile Mountain, referring to the magnificent profile of the Old Man of the Mountain, an infamous formation of three ledges on the east cliff that collapsed in May 2003.
Moderate: The Kinsman Ridge Trail accesses the summit of Cannon Mountain, the Kinsmans, and many lesser peaks. A trip to Cannon’s summit is roughly 3 miles from the parking area and provides spectacular views of Franconia Notch. Hikers may also try the Hi-Cannon Trail, which provides views of Lonesome Lake along the way.
The AMC’s Lonesome Lake Hut, which overlooks Lonesome Lake and is within three miles of Cannon’s summit, is open on a full-service basis from mid-June to early September, offering meals and overnight accommodations. It is open the rest of the year on a caretaker basis.
The AMC’s Hiker Shuttle stops at the Lafayette Place Campground, connecting hikers with The Highland Center.
Safety in Summer and early Fall
The AMC recommends all hikers check weather conditions in advance, carry a current map and guidebook, along with a compass and knowledge of how to use it. For recommendations on how to plan a safe hike in the White Mountains, see: The 10 essentials for a safe and pleasant hike.
Hiking Cannon Mountain in the Winter
Winter hiking anywhere in the White Mountains requires specialized equipment and skills, and experience in coping with weather, navigation, and winter gear. Extremely severe storms can develop suddenly and unexpectedly, especially above treeline. The combination of high wind and low temperatures has such a cooling effect that the worst conditions on Cannon Mountain are approximately equal to the worst reported from Antarctica, despite the much greater cold in the latter region. Hikers interested in extending their activities into winter are strongly advised to seek out organized trips with leaders who have extensive winter experience. Several AMC chapters offer winter hiking and backpacking instruction, and AMC offers several guided winter mountaineering trips; search for "Instruction" in AMC's activity listings. Helpful information can also be found in the AMC Guide to Winter Hiking and Camping.
Cannon Mountain's official name references a cannon-like natural stone table that rests atop a boulder, viewable from Profile Clearing.