Overview of Cannon Mountain, New Hampshire
Written by Greg and Heather Burke
Cannon is a legend in Eastern skiing, home of the first aerial tram in North America, and the biggest vertical in New Hampshire. Cannon Mountain is 4,180', the highest skiing peak in the state, offering dramatic views of the White Mountains - in fact, Cannon is located within Franconia Notch State Park and White Mountain National Forest. Cannon offers 10 lifts servicing 265 acres of beautiful skiing from bold summit trails served by the 80 passenger Tram and the Cannonball Express quad, to a lower mountain of intermediate and beginner terrain reached by the Peabody Express and the Tuckerbrook quad servicing Cannon's family learn to ski area.
Because Cannon is located in US Forest and State Park, there is an unspoiled quality about the landscape. There is also an authenticity, many of the alpine trails like historical 1933 Taft Slalom have remained unchanged over 70 years. As you ski down great long trails, like aptly named Vista Way from the top to Middle Cannon all the way to the steeps of Avalanche, Zoomer, and Rocket back to the Tram, you have spectacular views, natural snow with a boost of modern snowmaking, and the lure of Echo Lake at the bottom... stunning ski scenery.
Cannon's centerpiece Tram is a unique and extraordinary ski lift. A US Ski Team racer and entrepreneur in the 1930's Alexander Bright proposed the dramatic lift concept after his time skiing in Europe. He knew that a passenger tram in the White Mountains, like those in Austria and Switzerland, would be popular in summer and winter for tourists and skiers alike. Cannon tram originally debuted in 1938 as the first in America, it took years of construction by 200 men of the CCC and cost $250,000. The original tram lasted until its replacement in 1980. Even for non-skiers, the ride on this panoramic aerial cable car is magnificent.
Cannon Mountain is also a legend for its race heritage, Bode Miller learned to ski here at age 5 and still returns for the annual BodeFest in April - on of the Best Spring Ski Events in the East. But Cannon has evolved beyond its traditional alpine heritage to embrace telemark skiing, and side country skiing on Mittersill, the 1946 ski area that was revitalized in 2011 to provide natural snow, un-groomed lift serviced skiing in the authentic Austrian chalet style village and adjoining ski slopes. Mittersill is now part of Cannon's trail system, served by a fixed grip double and open about 40 days of the year snow and weather permitting. Cannon Mountain, on the other hand, has upgraded snow guns, grooming, and lifts with two high-speed quads and 168 acres of snowmaking assuring a long season with some of the best spring skiing in New England well into April.
When skiing Cannon, you should definitely stop for lunch or après ski at the Cannonball Pub in the Peabody Lodge. This is one of the best ski bars in New England, with a view of Cannon's slopes, a casual pub fare menu, many beers on tap, friendly service and decor of fun ski posters and pop art - it has a great ski pub vibe. While you are at Cannon, stop in the New England Ski Museum at the base of the Tramway, the historical collection of ski equipment includes 10 Mountain Division gear and uniforms, Olympic Medals from New Hampshire skiers Bode Miller and Penny Pitou, and wonderful vintage wooden skis, boots and clothing.
Cannon has no on mountain lodging since it is in US Forest and State Park land of Franconia Notch, so considering lodging in nearby Loon and Lincoln about 20 minutes south on I93, you can combine your trip with skiing at Loon and stay slopeside at The Mountain Club at Loon with its great spa and the best ski in ski out location in all of Lincoln. Or you can lodge in the nearby village of Franconia, Twin Mountain in a motel or cabin, or visit the Mountainview Grand Hotel in Whitefield for more après ski luxury and the Tower Spa.