February 15, 2020
Day 19
Skiers: Carla & Tim

Cannon is by far an iconic, classic, rugged, old school, no-frills mountain with a well-deserved reputation for being notoriously cold, windy, and icy. Cannon fans are hard-core who love steep groomers, tight glades, and secret off-piste stashes. The mountain offers no luxuries, no apologies, and no mercy…. it’s absolute paradise and I wouldn’t want it any other way!


Expansive view of Lafayette from Vista Way

Cannon is owned and operated by the State of NH. NH locals can ski on Wednesdays for $29 and season passes are deeply discounted. Cannon has the longest vertical drop in NH, 2,180 Feet, and offers 97 trails (including Mittersill).


Peabody Lodge

Cannon has been our home mountain for many years. It’s been rather strange in a way to have been skiing all over the state for our NH Talls & Smalls Adventure, yet not visiting Cannon till day 19. I was feeling home-sick and desperately craving some Cannon love. It was a perfect choice to celebrate Valentine’s Day.


Notchview Lodge

Weather today was absolutely frigid even for Cannon’s standards. Base temp for first chair was -13 degrees! Balanced by bright sunny skies and lack of wind it was actually quite pleasant. Cannon received over 24” of new snow in the previous 7 days and 96/97 trails were open. Snow surface was packed powder and I honestly can’t recall a day with less ice in the past decade. It was perfect!


The viewing scope is disguised as a happy ice face, temp recorded at base level, even colder up on the summit!


Summit deck with iced over picnic tables, top of Cannonball Quad above

We started on the Peabody Express Quad and took the Links over to the Cannonball Quad to reach the summit. Our first run was down Taft Slalom to Upper Hardscrabble. Taft is an original CCC cut trail dating back to 1933, predating the aerial tram by five years. It runs along the upper ridge between the summits of Cannon and Mittersill (Mt. Jackson). From here you can access glades found on the trail map as well as glades and secret cuts that no one will talk (or write) about. My only hint: if you see someone in front of you suddenly disappear or mysterious ski tracks heading into or out of the dense trees you might discover Narnia on the other side.


View of Middle Cannon from the Peabody Express Quad. Summit tram house can be seen in the distance


Popular resting stop along Taft. Common to find people grilling here


The Saddle from Taft Slalom over to Mittersill peak. Skiers will go as fast as they can to make it up the incline. From there it is only a 10 minute book hike to the summit, and the reward is about 500 vertical feet of untouched primitive terrain before emerging near the top of the double chair lift. From this area on Taft you can also access backcountry CCC trails: Coppermine, and Tucker Brook

Upper Hardscrabble is a beast of a trail, and one of my favorites in prime conditions. Ungroomed, steep, and bumped it was exhilarating! From here we worked our way down Middle Hardscrabble to Redball and cut through the Tuckerbrook Learning Area to the base of Mittersill.


View of Mittersill base area from lower Baron’s Run. Mittersill Alpine Resort in background.

Mittersill was previously a septate ski area from Cannon, established in 1946 by Baron Hubert von Pantz. This area closed in 1984, remaining dormant until a land swap with the US Forest Service allowed Cannon to expand into this area. Much to the dismay of backcountry enthusiast, a new double chair was installed in 2010 providing lift service to this area for the first time in over 25 years. Subsequent years widened trails to accommodate snowmaking, grooming, and designated racing areas.


Sun peeking through the trees from the Mittersill double chair

We took the Mittersill double to the summit and skied Skyline to a tight narrow passage named Idiots Delight. From here we dropped into Candyland. Interesting to note this is the first year Candyland has been identified as black on the trail map, it has always previously been listed as blue….. very deceiving as it is definitely expert only terrain. I really love Candyland! You pop into an unexpected open space from the narrow trail above and come upon a beautiful view of the Pemi Wilderness peaks and the Presidential Range beyond. The trail continues with numerous offshoots to the left and right eventually bringing you to the North Slope, a wide-open expansive snowfield. There is no grooming in these areas and all snow is 100% natural. The trick is to ski about ¾ of the way down then cut a sharp right across the base of the Taft Training Slope back to the chairlift. Tim missed the turn and ended up by the Mittersill Alpine Resort (not part of Cannon) and he had to boot it back via Rt 18. Let’s say his mood soured a bit after the unexpected hike. We took the double again to the summit and this time took Barons Run to Wayback to the Notchview lodge.


View looking towards the Mittersill Alpine Resort from the North Slope. There are a handful of slope side homes from back in the days when the Baron operated Mittersill.


View looking uphill from Candyland

After a short mid-morning break, we worked out way back to Cannon summit and lapped the upper trails: Vista Way, Tramway, Upper Cannon, Upper Ravine, Profile & Skylight. The summit was frigid and temps remained in the negative numbers. We took several long runs from the summit through the bypass to frontfive trails Paulie’s and Avalanche, and through the Banshee Glades \to Lower DJ’s Tramline to the tram. We pretty much walked onto the tram each time and got window views without difficulty.


From Bypass: large white oval is Echo Lake, Interstate 93 can be seen snaking along the right border


Whales on Bypass


Entrance to the Kinsman Glade Trail. This narrow 3471’ trail boasts a 30 degree pitch and a tight zipper line with no escape…. I have never skied this!

When preparing to write this article I came across an interview from skimag.com dated 2002 with Bode Miller. Bode mentioned that when he was a kid he used to race the tram to time himself. Unboard at the summit, put on skis, ski down Tramline, Paulie's Extension, and Avalanche in less than 10 minutes. This is crazy sick.... and yes I am totally going to time myself on this exact run next time I'm at Cannon.


Ketchup & Mustard, affectionate names for the aerial tram cars. Note Tim skied Cannon on 2/16 and took these pictures. Weather was warmer in the mid teens, but overcast and cloudy. He said it felt drastically cooler than the day before.


Inside the tram house, large window overlooks DJ’s Tramline and the Banshee Glades


Inside the tram house, double door lead into visitors area with ticket sales, giftshop, café, and restrooms

We made our way back to base for lunch and ate brownbag outside on the deck between Peabody & Notchview lodges. The sun was soothing and welcoming despite the cold temps.

After lunch I convinced Tim to go back to Mittersill and we worked our way over via the Tuckerbrook Quad. We skied Ridge Run and Dragons Drop then returned to Candyland and explored various secret little tree paths that dot this area. It was a fantastic ending to a spectacular ski day!


Old Mittersill lift line, Hall T-bar


Inside a secret stash of trees

Overall impression: Cannon is as iconic east coast as you can get. It has evolved over the years from primarily expert terrain to include a nice variety of intermediate trails and a separate green learning area. This historic mountain is the former site of the Old Man of the Mountain and also offers world-class ice climbing and hiking trails in addition to skiing. Like a well-loved flannel, it never feels too old or out of style. My heart will always belong to Cannon!

Snowy Wishes,
Carla Frontfive

Trail maps showing numerous expansions over the years.

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2019-2020 Cannon Trail map

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Cannon & Mittersill combo trail map circa 1970’s. Note these two areas were separately owned at this time

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Cannon & Mittersill combo trail map circa 1950’s. Note these two areas were separately owned at this time
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