Cannon Mountain, New Hampshire first crossed our radar about a decade ago. We were chatting with my husband’s brother and our sister-in-law about skiing. They told us how much they loved skiing at Cannon with their two kids.
Then they swore us to secrecy. “Please don’t tell anymore,” they said. “Don’t write about Cannon.”
A few years later, I became a judge for the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) annual ski area and ski resort marketing awards.
Cannon Mountain was an entrant, having produced a series of very clever videos in which loyal Cannon Mountain skiers and snowboarders try to scare newcomers away by exaggerating bad weather, difficult terrain, and even a Yeti, in hopes of keeping Cannon a secret (which in the world of marketing, actually means spreading the word).
The tag line for this clever campaign? #CannonIsMine
Sharing the Secret
This is not the first time I’ve spilled ski town and ski area secrets this year. In mid-January 2020, we visited Carson Valley, Nevada and I promptly started spreading the word. A week later, we flew to Boston and then drove to Cannon with our relatives.
I hadn’t planned on writing anything. This trip was just for fun.
But a month later (when I actually wrote this), I can’t get Cannon Mountain out of my mind.
The East is Different
I have a friend who lives in Quebec who often says “a turn is a turn is a turn,” meaning skiing is always fun no matter where you are, because a turn is still a turn.
He’s right, but I also think he’s wrong. One of the best things I’ve discovered about skiing in different North American regions and in different countries is how varied ski culture is.
For example, narrow winding tree-lined runs are among my favorite things about skiing in New England. Completely unlike anything we’ve found in the West, these distinctive runs — which are often among the oldest at a resort or in the region — offer new vistas around every bend and simply scream New England skiing to me!
At Cannon Mountain, we found some seriously delightful terrain below the Tramway including Upper Cannon and Skylight. But really all of the runs from this part of the mountain were fun, serving up nice steep pitches, with everything from wide-open, pure fall line Profile to meandering Upper Ravine.
Looking for a something a bit different? Ski Taft Slalom and hike a short uphill section to access Mittersill, formerly a stand alone ski area that is now part of Cannon Mountain.
Another huge difference about skiing in the East and skiing in New England is racing culture. As someone who attend World Cup races in Colorado, I am in awe of the crowds and enthusiasm Killington turns out for the women’s World Cup each November.
And it’s not surprising because ski racing is integral to New England skiing culture. At Cannon Mountain you’ll find racers of all ages training at Mittersill. Fun fact? Cannon Mountain is US Olympian and World Cup legend Bode Miller’s home mountain.
Skiing of All Flavors
When we were at Cannon Mountain, we parked at the Tram Valley Station and took the historic tram to the top, where we also ate lunch and warmed up at the Mountain Station, elevation 4,080’. Yes, you read that right. In fact, the vertical drop from the summit of Cannon Mountain is an impressive 2,180’. It’s only 1,800’ from the top of Mitttersill to the base, but that’s still a big number.
And here’s a fun fact: the beer taps at the top of the tram are the highest taps in the White Mountains.
Moving around the mountain, the Zoomer chairlift serves the Front Five, five advanced steep trails which you literally will zoom down. At the heart of the mountain are two lifts and two base lodges serving mostly beginner and intermediate terrain, while the Tuckerbrook Family Area offers a sheltered location for young kids and beginners.
All in, Cannon Mountain has 97 trails and glades, eleven lifts, 25 miles of trails on 285 skiable acres and an average annual snowfall of 160”, with snowmaking covering 191 acres.
Fancy, Cannon Mountain is not. But for honest, exhilarating winter fun, I am happy to call Cannon Mountain “mine.”
We can’t wait to go back!
When You Go…
First, I must thank Ben Lummis and Trina Abbot for showing us around their favorite ski area. Trina grew up skiing at Cannon. She loves Cannon and knows its secrets well. They both were excellent tour guides!
One very interesting thing about Cannon is that it is part of Franconia Notch State Park and is operated by the state of New Hampshire. It’s also the location of New Hampshire’s famous Old Man of the Mountain, whose profile graces road signs and license plates. Sadly, his profile — which was actually a series of five granite ledges on Cannon Mountain — is lost to time and erosion. But it’s still a fun fact!
Franconia Notch, New Hampshire, population 1,104 and home of catalog company Garnet Hill, is Cannon Mountain’s ski town. Among the limited services in town is Iron Furnace Brewing, a must for beer, appetizers and apres ski fun.
As for lodging, you’ll find grand hotels, New England inns, homes to rent and everything in between, in nearby communities.
We stayed with Ben and Trina at Ski Club Hochebirge. Trina grew up staying here with her family and she and Ben have continued the tradition, raising their kids alongside other skiing families. The club has a house with living rooms, kitchens, a large dining room and many bedrooms and bathrooms, that members of all ages reserve when skiing at Cannon. Shared space means making lifelong friends and if we had this option in Colorado, I would join in a second.
Finally, don’t miss the exhibits featuring the history of skiing, not just in New England, but across time at the New England Ski Museum. It’s free and located at the tram base. The gift shop is really good, too.
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