THE BELKNAP MTN. RANGE FALL FOLIAGE TRAVERSE
Full Day Hike DATE: 09/25/2021 - 09/25/2021
Trip/Event Location: Laconia, NH
Max # People: 10
Trip Guiding / Event Fee: No, I will not be asking participants for money
Difficulty Level: Strenuous
Join us for a traverse of the beautiful Belknap Range in at the start of the foliage season by spotting cars! A fire tower on Belknap, the cleared summit of Gunstock, numerous scattered ledges...
We'll meet at the Mt. Major trailhead first to drop off some cars and then make our way to the start.
From the junction of NH 11 and NH 11B in Gilford, drive NH 11 southeast along Lake Winnipesauke for 9 miles. A highway sign identifies the parking area for the Mount Major Trail. If you are coming northwest from Alton Bay on NH 11, you'll reach the parking area in 4.2 miles.
We'll be driving a blue Toyota Tacoma truck.
The Belknaps are a small mountain range overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. We completed the Belknap Range Traverse which would take us from the parking lot at Gunstock Mountain over Mt. Rowe (1680’), Gunstock Mtn. (2245’), Belknap Mtn. (2382’), Mt. Klem (2001’), Mt. Mack (1945’), Mt. Anna (1670’), Straightback Mtn. (1890’), and Mt. Major (1786’). That is a trip of 12.6 miles with 3,850' of elevation gain!
Stunningly beautiful day today! Mostly sunny with a high in the low 70’s and calm wind. Breathtaking views to say the least! Foliage still mostly green, but a few trees showing fall foliage colors.
We spotted a car at the Mt. Major trailhead. Our plan was to start at Gunstock Mountain's main parking lot to begin our adventure with the Ridge Trail. However there was not any trailhead signage so we ended up travelling further up on 11A and found another street that ended at a closed gate. We parked here and ascended up the Alpine Slide Trail to Mt. Rowe that was essentially a ski trail.
We decided to start at Gunstock and finish at Major as opposed to the reverse only because it seemed that we would accomplish some of the more difficult climbs earlier in the day.
The Belknap Range trail crosses an incredible diversity of terrain, offering a day of wonders: ledges and a surprising number of bald open summits making for outstanding views; open forest, mossy woods, fall foliage, critters and more! We saw very few people all day, at least until we reached Mt. Major which is an extremely popular summit. We found all the trails to be well maintained and signed but descending down the Mt. Major Trail was anti-climactic with the sorry state of the trail: massive erosion, exposed roots, slippery ledges.
Viewing the Belknap Range trek as a walk on ridge underestimates the challenge of climbing up and over eight mountains in 12.2 miles, even if Gunstock, the tallest of them, measures only 2,445 feet. But the effort involved in tromping up, down, and over eight low mountains was definitely worth the sweat and sore feet. Thanks to everyone for joining us on this challenging hike!
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