Kinsman Ridge Trail - Rim Trail - Kinsman Ridge Trail
Distance: 3.70 mi.
Elevation Gain: 2,143 ft. (overall) 2,320 ft. (total)
Time: 2:22 (Summit) 4:01 (Total)
With most of this winters few hikes being peaks I have already done in winter, I wanted to make sure to get at least one more new winter peak. I scheduled this day off from work since I would be up north all weekend snowmobiling. As it got closer, the forecast kept getting better.
With the forecast for clear skies and knowing some of my future hikes I want to do, I decided that a nice few of Franconia Ridge was what I would be looking for today. Having hiked up Cannon Mountain twice from the Lonesome Lake side, I decided to hike from the tramway side today (although I have come down this way once). Being a Tuesday and having the tram closed, there were hardly any cars in the parking lot and most seemed to be employees. I headed up the trail on snowshoes and was reminded that it starts climbing from the very beginning. It was 17 degrees when I left the car, but the immediate climb and the sun through the hardwoods was warming me up some already. But entering the softwoods soon after cooled things back down. The trail here is eroded so you are down in the ground some so to speak and there was snow slopping up both sides of me. This made the air quite cool as you hiked through.
Between two walls of snow
In what seemed like very little time, I was at the first crossing of the Kinsman Glade ski trail. The hiking trail heads right across, but is also blazed quite well through here with blue blazes. The hiking trail crosses the ski trail 4 times while switch backing up the mountain before finally following along the left edge briefly before turning left and back into the woods. Traction was good when crossing the ski trail, but I still took care since it was packed well from the skiers and didn't offer much in ways to slow yourself down right off if you did slip. Just looking ahead to pick the best route to cross was enough.
Ski slope crossing
Once turning back into the woods, the trail was still well packed from snowshoers and also skiers/snowboarders that had come down the trail as well. At this point, you are also past the steepest parts of the climb. The trail was easy to follow through here, but some branches were getting low and near face level with the increasing base of snow on the ground. Soon I was at the side path to the viewpoint and had my first view of the summit. I decided to do the viewpoint on the way down and headed back into the trees. One section of trail through here had some old drifts that seemed deep and had added lots of snow to the trees. While they looked neat, the path through one was only wide enough for one snowshoe. This meant I either had to lift the other one high and over the drift or shuffle my feet to get through.
First view of the summit
Coming back out of the trees to the rocky area before the summit, you could easily make out the trail ahead and also see some people on the observation deck. The trail was nice and hard through here and followed a good path. From comparing my GPS tracks, this path is a little off from the actual trail, but I'm guessing the skiers tend to make the path here based on what works for coming off the ski trails. After coming out onto the ski trails briefly, I decided I would try to take the Rim Trail around to the left and come up to the summit that way. This was definitely the less traveled route I would find. While it was solid enough to hold me, it was pretty choppy from the few snowshoes that had been through. Like most others, I also bailed off of this and went directly up to the summit tower rather than follow it all the way around.
Following the Rim Trail
The stairs up to the observation deck were mostly filled with snow meaning I could snowshoe up them easily. On the deck were two others that had taken a break from skiing to enjoy the views. I talked with them for a while before they headed back off for some more runs. I then had the top to myself the rest of the time I was up there. Views were great in all directions with clear skies. I spend almost a full hour taking in the views and taking pictures. It was certainly a great day. The temp on the summit was 13 degrees with a wind blowing around 7-10 mph. This made for a wind chill of 1. All I put on for this was a partial face mask and I was comfortable since it was so sunny.
Panoramic views today
Quite a few skiers for a Tuesday
I kept thinking I saw hikers on Lafayette, but the spots I was looking at never moved
Finally it was time to head back down taking the same route. The sun hadn't softened anything up and skiers had kept things packed well as I had noticed from the summit that a group of about 6-8 had ventured down the trail. Before going back into the trees before the viewpoint, I had a nice conversation with another hiker named Frank. Of course we talked about the great day for a hike and some other things before we both continued on our journeys. The hike back down the mountain went smooth and I didn't run into any other hikers or skiers after this.
From the view point
Back down onto the ski trail briefly
This hike ended up going great with perfect weather for the day and my last winter peak of the season. With two nice weather hikes in a row, I'm looking forward to (and anxious for) the rest of the hikes while trying to hit my goal of all 67 New England 4Ks this year.
For all the pictures from the hike, just go HERE