Belknap Range

Shuttle • 11.7 mi • 3300 ft

A strenuous peak-bagger’s adventure that visits nine peaks in the Belknap Range. The Belknap Range is an L-shaped string of small peaks that rise 1,800 feet to the west from the southwestern shore of Lake Winnipesaukee. At the eastern end of the range, Mount Major, with its excellent 360-degree views, is one of the most climbed mountains in southern New Hampshire. At 2,380 feet, Belknap Mountain is the tallest peak in the range, which consists of fifteen named summits above 1,500 feet. This hike is a strenuous traverse from northwest to southeast, climbing over the summits of Mount Rowe, Gunstock Mountain, Belknap Mountain, Mount Klem, Rand Mountain, West and East Quarry Mountains, Straightback Mountain, and Mount Major. The hike involves substantial elevation gain and requires good route-finding skills, because there are many trail intersections on this route, some unmarked. It is also a one-way trip, requiring the spotting of a car at either end of the range.
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Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Glendale
Length: 11.7 total miles
Elevation Gain: 3,300 feet
Trail Type: Shuttle
Skill Level: Strenuous
Duration: 8 hours
Season: Best spring through fall
Local Maps: USGS West Alton, Laconia
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Recent Trail Reviews


A wonderful experience. To be in the middle of the woods so close to civilization. The quarries were amazing.


I used the map to do a loop hike, rather than the traverse. From the Mt. Major parking lot, I followed the Brook Trail to the "Quarry Link", and followed it to where it joined the Quarry Trail, possibly on a part of Straightback Mountain. I was a little confused at this point, but turned right and followed the Quarry Trail over E. Quarry, W. Quarry, Rand, Klem, and Mack. Helpful maps at the end of the Brook Trail and on Mt. Mack showed another trail from Mt. Mack straight east to Mt. Anna (south of the old quarry site) and from there to the main peak of Straightback, which is really closer to the "a" in Straightback than where shown on the map. From there I went over Mt. Major and straight down to my car. It took me 6 hr. and 40 minutes – (I am probably slightly faster than the "book time hiker".) Some of the trails were a bit overgrown and had a few small blowdowns, and a few logging roads and small clear cuts disrupted the trails. But there were always paint blazes or diamond markers on the trees, and there were frequently shreds of tape in the bushes to mark trail crossings of logging features. Collectively, the trails used yellow, white, and blue paint, or red or blue diamond markers, at different places. (The Quarry Link had old blazes painted over with gray – this was the least well-marked trail.) There were small markers at most summits and junctions, and a couple of pictures with labels for the prominent features visible from viewpoints, and a little writeup in the old quarry. Straightback was my favorite -- a flat summit as big as a couple of football fields, offering almost a 360-degree view. Of course, Mt. Major has a beautiful view, but was crowded. I encountered only one party (about 8 Boy Scouts and leaders) from the time I left the Mt. Major area to the time I re-entered it. The only drawback of this hike is that the trails could use a little maintenance -- I had a lot of fun and did eight mountains in less than 7 hours!

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