Belknap Range

Glendale, New Hampshire 03249

Belknap Range

Belknap Range Professional Review and Guide

"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."

Belknap Range Reviews

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A wonderful experience. To be in the middle of the woods so close to civilization. The quarries were amazing.
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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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This is one of my favorite trails. It's a long haul (between 10 and 12 miles depending on your route) with lots of ups and downs - but the terrain is very varied and many of the views are spectacular. We took the Southern route, via Mt. Mack and Mt. Ann. Next fall we'll try the Northern route, the quarry trail. I was not able to download the map or the trail description from this site, though, and ended up using the AMC Southern Mt Guide to NH and a map of the lakes region trails obtained from the Gilford Village Library.
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Having already climbed Rowe and Gunstock before, we decided to take the Brook trail from Gunstock parking lot to Belknap and continue from there. It is strenuous at times when steep , but it is a rare hike where you will not be in a crowd. Even having knocked off the first couple miles (Rowe/Gunstock) it still took me 8 hours to Mt Major parking lot (I hike slowly). It was very nice, will do it again and will also hike the back side including MT Anne next time. A sturdy hiking boot was welcome coming down the Boulder Trail portion and a little more water/gatorade would have been in order. This is a long hike on a hot day. Very cool occasional interpretive postings including a Photo with diarama of the view ( could have been on Rand or Klem, not sure). Great hike, will do it again sometime. Next hike...Haystack from the Upper Ausable Lake in the Adirondacks.

Belknap Range Photos

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Trail Information

Nearby City
3,300 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
8 hours
Best spring through fall
USGS West Alton, Laconia
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018