Cannon Mountain Ski Getaways

ski getaways

So much has been made of the demise of New Hampshire's most famous symbol, the Old Man of The Mountains, you might forget about the other icon that shared Franconia Notch with it.

Within sight of the rugged cliffs where the Old Man held sway for thousands of years are the slopes and trails of Cannon Mountain ski area. It hasn't been around for nearly as long, but Cannon has a storied past of its own. Here is the site of North America's first aerial tramway. Jean-Claude Killy and Toni Sailer are just two of the legendary skiers who have raced here. It's home to the New England Ski Museum. And for more than six decades it's provided a true test of skill for many a Northeastern skier who dared to challenge the icy steeps of Avalanche or Paulie's Folly, or the bumpy twists and turns of Hardscrabble.

Thanks to modern snowmaking and grooming, Cannon's infamous blue ice is now also a part of history, although the steeps remain. In the past few years especially this state-owned mountain has come into its own. The old Peabody Double and the Hong Kong Double have been replaced by a high speed quad, the Peabody Express, two triples have been added to better serve beginner terrain, some trails have been reshaped, glades have been cut, and snowmaking and grooming have undergone major upgrades. With the first pod of terrain now open on Mittersill, the defunct private area adjacent to Cannon, the mountain has made its first major expansion since the Profile trail was cut and the Profile Quad built back in the 1990s. When the build-out on Mittersill is complete a few years down the road, Cannon will offer almost twice the acreage it now has.

The commitment to snowmaking and grooming has made much of the mountain's intermediate terrain accessible to the full range of intermediate skills. The twists and double fall lines of Upper Ravine and Upper Cannon still challenge more advanced skiers and riders but a reliable surface and grooming mean low intermediates will feel comfortable. The middle sections of both trails were significantly reshaped a few years ago (and Middle Ravine widened) to the delight of many, not just fans of blue square terrain. Lower down, a triple that tops out about where the Hong Kong mid-station was serves a wide expanse of beginner terrain. And another triple serves a new novice area just below the Peabody Lodge while it provides access from a new parking lot near the refurbished Mittersill trails.

Along with the famous tram (a new 80-passenger tram replaced the original some years ago) and the Peabody Express, there's a fixed-grip quad that serves the upper mountain, three triples (one serves the "Front Five" of Gary's, Rocket, Zoomer, Paulie's Folly, and Avalanche) and a surface lift for the little ones. The seven new trails at Mittersill are served by a fixed-grip quad.

A half pipe, complete with pipe-dragon grooming, and a large terrain park rise from the Peabody Lodge, scene of most of the action at Cannon.