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5 Best Things to do in Cannon Mountain NH

The beauty of Cannon Mountain NH isn’t just that you can do a lot of things here, but also that it’s situated right in the middle of one of the most beautiful places in the state and in this post I’ll be showing you a bunch of info about the best activities to do here and nearby.

Quick info about Cannon Mountain New Hampshire:

  • Name: Cannon Mountain (aka Mt Cannon, or Canon Mountain).
  • Location: White Mountains, New Hampshire.
  • Things to do: Hiking, gondola ride, great food and much more.
  • Family friendly? Yes!
  • Rating: 5 out of 5.
  • Recommended? Yes! Cannon Mountain is one of my personal favorite locations within New Hampshire and it’s one of the easiest places to access to enjoy some of the best activities in all of the White Mountains.

Here are the 5 best things to do in Cannon Mountain NH:

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  1. Hike the Kingsman Ridge trail.
  2. Visit Echo Lake.
  3. Take the Cannon Mountain tram.
  4. See the Old Man of The Mountain.
  5. Visit the Observation Tower.

Let’s get to each of the things you can do at Cannon Mountain, all in one day (or over a few if that’s what you’re looking to do). Each of these things on their own is enough to have a very satisfying visit to this place, but together, it’ll make for an awesome day trip! We’ll begin with the drive:

1) Kingsman Ridge Trail (the best Cannon Mountain hike):

cannon mountain new hampshire hike

The Kingsman Ridge Trail is the main Cannon Mountain hike in the area and it goes up to the very top of it. It’s a near 4 mile in and out hike that is moderate and above. I would recommend getting a map of this trail in the welcome center to Mt Cannon but you can also download the Kingsman Ridge trail trail from Alltrails.

While the views of Cannon Mountain from below as well as from the drive to it are stunning, this hike is a must do if you enjoy that activity and want to get to the top and having personally been at the top of this mountain, I can tell you that the views are incredible! In fact, I recommend visiting Cannon Mountain New Hampshire nearly year round (except winter unless you enjoy skiing) especially during fall because this is one of the best places to see New England fall foliage and on the Kingsman Ridge Trail, you will certainly get some amazing views of that.

2) Echo Lake:

echo lake in cannon mountain nh

Echo Lake is accessible from the Cannon Mountain NH parking lot and it’s an awesome spot for swimming, sightseeing and more. There’s actually great views of Mt Cannon itself from the lake worth checking out and later on in this article I’ll be providing more details on another hike near Cannon Mountain that gives you a great overview of both this lake, Cannon Mountain and more.

3) Cannon Mountain tram (Aerial Tramway):

top of cannon mountain at gondola

If you don’t want to hike to the top of Cannon Mountain New Hampshire, there’s another way to do that and that’s through it’s Aerial Tramway (gondola basically). You have to buy tickets for this at the welcome center but if you want to reach the summit as quickly as possible, this is way to do it. The ride takes about 10-15 minutes to reach the top, but as you’re going up, make sure to take pictures, there’s some amazing scenery here (I would strongly recommend this specific attraction to see incredible New Hampshire Fall foliage from). 

Also if you are afraid of heights (I very much understand you), know that this tramway is extremely safe, fits over 50 people (with skis) and is checked daily by professional engineers who actually sit on top of it (outside it) while it’s going up and down to make sure it’s functioning safely. Now this was told to me by the person running the tramway and I don’t know if he was being honest, but it did calm me down a little bit. I will admit, the Cannon Mountain tram ride itself was very smooth and I enjoyed it. Here’s an photo I took from the top of Cannon Mountain during my frist trip there:

hiking at the top of cannon mountain nh

4) See the Old Man of The Mountain attraction:

old man of the mountain in cannon mountain new hampshire

The Old Man of The Mountain is the one of the most famous attractions on Cannon Mountain. It’s basically a natural rock formation you can see from Interstate 93, but to really get a great view of it (it’s a bit destroyed now last I checked) you can first park at the Cannon Mountain parking lot, then visit the Old Man of The Mountain Historic Site which is only a short walk from there. There is also Profile Lake which is close by and while it isn’t as nice as Echo Lake, the views of it and the mountains from that spot are also incredible.

5) Hike to the Observation Tower at the top of Cannon Mountain NH:

cannon mountain watchtower

When you reach the summit of Cannon Mountain (whether via the Kingsman Ridge Trail or Gondola ride), there will be a loop trail available to walk on. That trail will take you to an Observation Tower overlooking the western side of the White Mountains. The Watch Tower is a few levels high with steps to walk on, but I would recommend being careful when it’s rainy here like the photo shows above as it can be slippery.  Because the White Mountains do often have bad weather and huge winds, I’m going to recommend a few things to help when you hike here:

  1. The first is getting what I consider to be the best waterproof socks. They won’t just help you on this hike, but anywhere else where it’s wet and muddy.
  2. The second is OK and above hiking shoes. When I first visited Cannon Mountain NH, I wore regular sneakers and that was a big mistake. As long as you wear decent hiking shoes (like the Ozark trail shoes) or trail runners like the Salomon Speedcross 5, you’ll be fine here.

Questions about Cannon Mountain you may have before you go:

Is Cannon Mountain good for beginners?

No, most of the trails at Cannon Mountain are pretty difficult and steep. There are nearby mountains with easier trails available.

What is at the top of Cannon Mountain?

A watchtower, some hiking trails, beautiful views of the White Mountains and a Gondola as well as cafeteria available.

Is Cannon Mountain good for kids?

There are a lot of activities for kids and families to do in Cannon Mountain including hikes, eating fudge, taking the gondola up to the top, exploring the summit of the mountain and more.

Related things to see near Cannon Mountain New Hampshire:

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