NH Family Hikes

Lonesome Lake

Length: 3.2 miles out-and-back with loop

Difficulty (click for info): Easy

Elevation Gain: 1000 feet

Rating (click for info): 8/10

Elevation: 2740'

Driving Directions:
Trailhead is located on Rt. 93, at the Lafayette Place Campground in Lincoln, NH. There are parking areas on both sides of the highway. Heading north, the main trailhead parking is 1.7 miles from the Basin exit. If you parked on the east side of the highway (Falling Waters Trail/Old Bridal Path Parking), walk through the underpass to the other side of the highway.

About the Hike:
Situated on a high plateau below Cannon Mountain and the Cannonballs, Lonesome Lake is one of the state's most popular and scenic mountain ponds. A loop trail around the lake shows you tranquil waters, mountain vistas, docks and beaches, and dark bogs. If that's not enough, there's also Lonesome Lake Hut, where you can stop in for lemonade while you enjoy the views. More adventurous hikers can continue past the lake and tackle the steep and rough climb to Kinsman Pond and the Kinsmans The hike to the lake is short and mostly moderate, but unexciting. For a longer and more scenic way, see Cascade Brook Trail.

The trail starts at the Lafayette Place Campground. Cross the bridge over the Pemigewasset River and head up the campground road. Follow the signs for Lonesome Lake Trail through the campground for 0.2 miles, then turn right where the trail enters the woods. The trail crosses a bridge and heads easily uphill, soon crossing another bridge. Pass Hi-Cannon Trail on the right in 0.2 miles from the campground. The trail climbs gradually, angling across the mountainside on the first of two very long switchbacks. The trail soon becomes rougher, then turns the corner into the next switchback. After a rocky, but not too steep climb, it straightens out and heads toward the lake. It meets the lake at a trail junction 0.8 miles from the last one, where the loop begins.

There is a good view across the lake from here, looking up to a higher plateau just below South Kinsman. Turn left onto Cascade Brook Trail. The loop heads through the muddy forest around the lake on boardwalks. In 0.2 miles, continue straight onto Fishin' Jimmy Trail as Cascade Brook Trail goes left. It then emerges at the prime viewpoint of the lake, a bridge over the outlet, at a small wooden dam. From here, there are gorgeous views over the water to the Cannonballs and off to the distant Franconia Ridge. The reflections of the mountains in still water are picturesque. If there are no other hikers at the lake, this is a very peaceful place to spend some time. The trail continues around to a dock, where there is a better view of the Franconia Ridge. It is also a good place to go swimming. Here, the Fishin' Jimmy Trail heads off to the left for the Lonesome Lake Hut, just a short distance away. Turn right onto Around-Lonesome-Lake Trail to continue around the lake. After passing a few viewpoints over the lake, the trail enters a bog. Boardwalks take the trail through the peat moss, crossing several inlet streams. In 0.2 miles from the dock, the trail leaves the bog. Turn right onto Lonesome Lake Trail as it follows the north shore for 0.2 miles past a few viewpoints up to the Kinsmans and Cannon Balls before returning to the beginning of the loop.

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