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During downhill skiing's formative years, this state-run ski area was the place to ski in the East. One of New England's very first ski mountains, Cannon remains famed for its challenging runs and exposed faces, and the mountain still attracts skiers who are serious about getting down the hill in style. (The scenery is knockout-gorgeous, too -- ranked second-best in the eastern U.S. by SKI magazine.) Many of the old-fashioned New England-style trails here are narrow and fun (but sometimes icy, because they're constantly scoured by the notch's winds), and the enclosed tramway is an elegant way to get to the summit. With no base-lodge scene to speak of, though, skiers must retire to inns in Franconia or Sugar Hill, or else retreat southward to the condo country that is Lincoln. Then there's this: Lift-ticket prices have shot up in the past 2 years, right in the middle of a global recession, to match those of other fancier resorts. (This had once been a great-value lift ticket.) What's that all about -- state budget crisis, perhaps? Only time will tell.