This resort guide is maintained by EpicSki Ambassador: tylrwnzl
The Unofficial Guide to Cannon Mountain
By Tyler Wenzel (aka tylrwnzl)
Cannon mountain is one of the best mountains in New Hampshire for down hill terrain. Some of the longest and steepest in bounds terrain on the east coast calls Cannon Mountain home.
Cannon is not exactly renowned for its beginner terrain, but its there if you are looking to learn. The Tuckerbrook area in particular is built for beginner and low level intermediates to hone their skills. I've personally gotten to use Tuckerbrook so work on my skiing switch on intermediate level terrain. However, for a truly beginner level skier, I would recommend they stay on Tuckerbrook until they gain some confidence in their abilities. Ski areas rate their terrain in comparison to the mountain they're on, not in relation to other areas. Thus what may be rated as intermediate on the main mountain at Cannon may receive a black diamond rating at a nearby mountain like Bretton Woods. There is one or two combination beginner/intermediate runs off the main chair (the Peabody express). But not any runs that are only for beginners.
Cannon is primarily a mountain for mid-level intermediate skiers and above. The intermediate terrain is certainly a good proving ground for intermediates to develop into advanced skiers. The one problem I have found with Cannon is the terrain off the Peabody express is sometimes difficult to navigate. There is not always trail signs marking where a trail spilts so often times you will find yourself skiing down looking for a turn only to get to the bottom and realize you skied right past it or made a wrong turn. It gets easier once you figure the mountain out, but at first it can be challenging for an intermediate to figure out the mid-mountain.
The Peabody Express Lift--main lift at Canon.
However the one place that things are certainly clear is the division of the Front Five area and the rest of the mid-mountain. The two intermediate trails on the Front Five known as Rocket and Gary's can certainly be a challenge for intermediates. Personal experience has show me that these trails tend to get icy. In general the front five tends to have less ice that the rest of the mountain for some reason, but the intermediate trails get some ice. They are right on the border line between intermediate and advanced and can be an area where it is easy to get in over your head. That leads to some skiers and boarders starting to side slip to compensate for the steep terrain and more ice. It almost makes the advanced terrain towards the tram easier to ski because of having better snow.
There is also some nice intermediate terrain off the Tram and Canonball quads on the top of the mountain in the Tramway and Vista Way trails. They also tend to be the first trails to open on the upper mountain, so if you are only able to visit during the early holiday week between Christmas and New Year's this will be the trails to hit off the tram.
ADVANCED AND EXPERT TERRAIN
Cannon's best terrain can be found with a diamond prefixing the trail name. Every time I ski there I have a debate over what my favorite trail is at Cannon. I've always loved Zoomer and Avalanche. Both trails are phenomenal. There is the cool view of skiing down towards echo lake and the option to either take the historic tram or keep lapping the front five with the Zoomer triple chair. Just as a heads up though--if you are going to ski Paulie's or Avalanche keep your speed up at the end of the run or you will be doing a lot of traversing throughout the day. Especially coming off Avalanche you will have a traverse to either the tram or Zoomer, so definitely keep your speed up at the end there if safely possible.
The Toss Up terrain park is certainly a fun place to play around as well. I was at Cannon one day and the weather was being finicky (in the upper 40s and raining with heavy fog), but I ended up spending almost the whole day on toss up. There are a lot of natural jumps there that are fun to try out. And unlike a human built terrain park with individual jumps, there are a bunch of different lines to try out to find what you get the most joy out of. I saw another skier that day doing what I was doing--spending all his time on Toss Up--and we were taking different lines each time and finding what we individually found exciting. Its a trail that you can figure out what pleases you most.
The expert terrain at Canon is purported to be some of the best in the East. I hope to update this guide with some reviews of the Mittersill and glade areas this season, as I have been unable to get to them because of weather and other cirumstances so far.
Cannon is a state owned an run mountain, but unlike some government owned areas (for instance the old Montage Mountain in Pennsylvania) Cannon is devoted to investing in the mountain infrastructure. They have installed the High Speed Quad from the main lodge known as the Pea Body Express and put in a new double chair during the 2010-2011 season in the Mittersill area. Despite the upgrades, however, Cannon remains one of the most affordable places to ski great terrain in the United States. They even recently expanded the base lodge area with the new Peabody Baselodge. I have yet to see a crowded day at Cannon mountain, and the new base lodge further alleviates the problem of over crowding. Cannon is the only mountain that in New Hampshire that I dare venture into the lodge around lunch time because it doesn't suffer from over crowding as much as its neighboring mountains do.