By Andrea Starr | September 7, 2018
Mount Major (elevation 1,785 feet) is a mountain located in nearby Alton, NH, south of Lake Winnipesaukee and northeast of Straightback Mountain in the Belknap Range.
Mount Major’s parking lot and trailhead are about 20 miles from the intersection of NH Route 75 and NH Route 125 in Milton. Proceed on NH Route 75 towards and through Farmington to NH Route 11. Turn right on NH Route 11 towards Alton. Take the third exit off the Alton rotary and continue on NH Route 11 through Alton village, Alton bay, and Alton. The Mount Major parking lot will be on the left, although it is not uncommon for overflow parking to take place on either side of the road.
There is a signboard with trail maps and several porta-potties in the parking lot. Dogs are permitted on the trails (clean up after them). Good shoes with some ankle support would be useful, a canteen or water bottle too. A light jacket, tied around the waist or stowed in a small backpack, might be welcome at the top. It can be cooler there, due to brisk winds.
The Mount Major Trail (blue blazes) ascends the mountain from the north side. Its length is 1.5 miles and rises about 1,100 feet. It has a gradual rise for about half the trip. Turn left (with the blue blazes) at the Brook Trail junction. This is a popular hike – you will not be lonely.
The Brook Trail (yellow blazes) continues around the base of the mountain to where it connects to the Boulder Loop Trail (orange blazes). The initial stretch of Mount Major Trail (blue blazes), then continuing on the Brook Trail (yellow blazes), and finally the Boulder Loop Trail (orange blazes) make a giant loop around the base of the mountain without ever ascending it.
Continuing up the Mount Major Trail (blue blazes) towards the summit, the ground rises more steeply for the remaining half. As you approach the summit, with still a ways to go, you will break through the trees briefly onto a smooth ledge where Lake Winnipesaukee can first be seen in the direction of Moultonboro. It’s a great photo appetizer.
Excelsior! The summit is an open ledge-y area. It has the remains of a small stone shelter hut (Mr. Phippens’ Hut) there. Vandals destroyed it. (Now a monument to crass stupidity). Its roof is gone and large granite slabs have been toppled from its walls on one side. They do function well as picnic benches.
There is a panoramic view of Lake Winnipesaukee, stretching from Moultonboro bay in the northwest, across the White Mountains towards the north, Wolfeboro village along the lake’s northern side, and the long, thin Alton Bay to the northeast. The mountains are reflected in the lake. Fantastic!
You might just pick out Milton in that general direction with the aid of a topographic map. (I forgot mine). Even the eternal center-insert map from the Weirs Times or Cocheco Times would help identify features, such as the many islands and bays in the lake below.
The MV Mount Washington may be seen traveling on the lake if your visit happens to coincide with its schedule.
Facing away from the lake, you will see the higher Straightback Mountain (elevation 1,911 feet). Mount Major’s peak is elevated 188 feet above the connecting “col” or ridge between them. There are trails to its peak also, more difficult ones, but that is another story. This view is a vast expanse of beautiful rolling wooded ridges and valleys.
One may return the way one came or depart instead down the opposite side (blue blazes still) to the Boulder Loop Trail (orange blazes) and along it back to the parking lot.
Belknap Range Trails. (n.d.). Belknap Range Trails. Retrieved from belknaprangetrails.org/mt-major/blue-trail/
Collins Dictionary. (2018). Excelsior. Retrieved from www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/excelsior
Wikipedia. (2018, September 8). Col. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Col
Wikipedia. (2018, February 3). Mount Major. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Major