Another lively spot in Franconia Notch State Park is Cannon Mountain. Cannon Mountain boasts the first ski tramway in the United States. The tramway has been operating continuously since 1938, although the tramway today is not the same one as they used in 1938.
We are in New Hampshire with our friends the Shaws, so yesterday, the most perfect day of the week, Eric and I rode the tram with his daughters Kendra and Danae while Tom and Sandy hiked up the very steep 2,000 foot trail to the top. Tom, of course, can hike up and down all day with no problem but I was not willing to do the necessary rock scrambling for two miles. Sandy was game and looked forward to the challenge.
The tram ride was an easy eight minutes up to 4,080 feet. The views from the tram were amazing and the tram operator pointed out mountains in Quebec, Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire. Visibility was close to 70 miles, as opposed to the day before when a cloud hovered over Cannon Mountain all day.
Once on the top of Cannon Mountain, we started hiking the rim trail. This is a relatively flat trail that circles the top of the mountain, giving spectacular views in every direction. We took our time and walked out to every overlook spot. The highlight was the observation tower. When we climbed to the top we could see 70 miles in every direction. Wow!
The temperature when we reached the top of the observation tower was about 45, so we stayed until our fingers were numb, then climbed down and went to the cafeteria by the tram. A cup of hot chocolate and a shared cinnamon roll helped us warm up.
Kendra and I walked the rim trail again to see if there were any views we missed, then we had a shared lunch. After lunch we started down the Kinsman Ridge Trail to meet Sandy and Tom. Just a little way down the trail, Kendra heard Sandy’s voice. From a rock outcropping we could see them popping up here and there along the trail. Tom and Sandy made great time coming up the trail: 2,000 vertical feet along 2 miles in 2 1/2 hours. We walked along the rim trail and they checked out the views from the observation tower, then we all headed back to the cafeteria.
After Tom and Sandy enjoyed their lunch we all rode the tram back down together. We visited the Ski Museum, The Old Man of the Mountain Museum, and walked to Profiler Plaza. Profiler Plaza is next to Profile Lake and you used to be able to see the Old Man of the Mountain from there before he collapsed in 2003. The Plaza helps recreate the experience but it is a poor substitute and you can feel the loss of this state symbol.
We enjoyed our day up on top of Cannon Mountain, however we got there. It is a beautiful spot and it was a beautiful day to enjoy it.