Total Distance: 10.19 miles
Time: 2 days
Elevation Gain: 3,199 ft
Trails: Lonesome Lake Trail; Fishin’ Jimmy Trail; Kinsman Ridge Trail
Parking: Lafayette Campground, south side of 93 between exits 34A & 34B
Great views, cool ridge on North Kinsman that overlooks Mt. Lincoln/Lafayette, and a 360 view on South kinsman. Trails are clearly marked & easy to navigate. The overall hike has some a little lake, a throne carin, and the snow covered trees in the winter were breathtaking.
Gear & Tips:
Check out our winter hiking gear list for what to pack! Snowshoes would have been too clunky as the snow was not that deep and the trail was too steep at times. Hiking poles were a huge help for stability. We slept with some of our clothes our sleeping bag to keep them warm. Your water bladder lines will likely freeze so we typically keep them in our bags or close to our body.
This hike can easily be done as a day hike, but we decided we would try our hands at some winter camping and stay at the Lonesome Lake Hut. We parked at the Lafayette Campground lot, all the way to the right when you pull in. We bumped into our friend Matt in the parking lot, who joined us for the day. It was a fairly easy hike up to the hut. The trail is about 1.7 miles and you gain about 1000 ft of elevation.
Lonesome lake was frozen over, so we made our way across and up to the hut, taking in the beautiful views around us. We check-in with the caretaker and got out room for the night, bunk 2. We quickly stopped to set up our bunks for the night, laying down our sleeping pads and bags, and taking out some other items we did not need for the remainder of the day. Dropping extra weight is always a plus early in the day.
Once we were all setup, we headed up the Fishin’ Jimmy trail, the first mile is relatively flat, then the rest of the way is a steady (steep at times) incline to the Kinsman Ridge Trail, where you first hit the North Peak. Microspikes were definitely needed for the trail conditions that day, packed snow, and at times large spots of ice.
We made our way up to North Kinsman, tucked away under snowy branches, we found the breathtaking outlook at the summit. Views of Cannon Mtn in the distance, and straight across are Mt. Lincoln and Lafayette. Whisps of clouds blocked our view of the base of the mountains, but above we had blue skies, which made for a truly unique day. We stopped for a bit, taking in the scenery and having a snack and then headed out toward the South peak.
A little under a mile (.9 to be exact), between the two peaks, we dipped down the Kinsman Ridge Trail till we arrived at the South Peak. At the top sat a large cairn in the shape of a throne, seemed very fitting seeing as we were on the Kinsmans. We took in the 360 degree views then made our way back to the hut using the same Kinsman Ridge and Fishin’ Jimmy trails.
We got back to the Lonesome Lake hut and changed our layers and prepared for the night. At this hut there are a series of bunk houses and one larger hut as a common area. During the winter months the AMC Huts offer self-service stays, this means you still have to make a reservation, and there is a caretaker available to help you, but you must bring all of your food, the hut offers the use of their cooking equipment and hot water is readily available. The huts are a carry-in, carry-out facility, so we brought dehydrated meals (mmm mac & cheese), which made our cook time and cleanup a breeze.
After dinner we played a few games of cribbage, had some hot chocolate and called it an early night.
The next morning, we packed up, had a quick breakfast, and hiked a quick 1.6 miles downhill back to the car. Overall this was a great hike and a great way for us to try our first winter overnight.