The Lonesome Lake sits up on a plateau south of Cannon Mountain and southwest of Mount Lafayette (which is across Franconia Notch). The hike to the lake starts smoothly but quickly becomes steep and often rocky for an extended period until the plateau is reached.
Once on the plateau, the trail splits left and right. We found the right fork to be the most spectacular and lengthy.
This trail circles the west side of the lake. Shortly after leaving the intersection, there is a nice rest area, behind which there was once a building (whose site can still be seen on the topo, and of which some remnants exist). That area is followed by a sequence of walkways through a complex bog area, with moss, grasses and broomsticked trees and krummholz. The views of the mountains on the other side of Franconia Notch are spectacular.
After the trail passes inlets and streams that are home to small fish, it comes through a section that is occasionally home to the sundew plant - one of the few insectivorous plants (it captures insects on sticky leaf hairs and absorbs nutrients from them as they decay on the leaf surface).
Beyond that point, the trail quickly approaches the Lonesome Lake Hut, maintained by the AMC; this used to be a fishing lodge. People now frequently stay here, some just coming here to stay, others passing through on longer trails through the hut system.
Beyond the hut, the trail crosses the drainage for Lonesome Lake and the strange dam that controls it. Then, take a brief detour right, down a section of the Fishin' Jimmy Trail (which does not follow the route shown on the topo, but instead coincides with the Cascade Brook Trail). This section of the trail has some very spectacular roots crossing its undulating course.
Back on the loop trail, the course of the trail dives back into the woods and sight of the lake is lost until just before the trail closes the loop. Then the descent to the park begins along the same route as the ascent.
The views and sights are excellent and the loop section of the trail is flat. We did two cycles around the pond before descending. But don't underestimate how strenuous the ascent and descent can be.
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