Mt Belknap is an easily accessible hike for all seasons. Its prominent summit and active fire tower offer views of the entire New Hampshire Lakes Region.
|Mt Belknap, New Hampshire
Just south of the White Mountains is the Lakes Region of New Hampshire
which offers its own set of great hikes. I've been inadvertently drawn to this region as of late, probably as a result of hiking nearly all the major summits in the Whites. The Lakes Region summits are comparatively shorter but tend to have some great views none-the-less. After doing some hikes in the Ossipee Range
and the southern Sandwich Range, I turned my attention further south to the Belknap Range and Red Hill. These are two half-day hikes which offer some of the better views of the famous Lake Winnipesaukee which is the crown jewel of the Lakes Region.
Mt Belknap is the highest summit of the small Belknap Range which includes 12 summits
which can be hiked as well as a ski resort
. There are plenty of options for snowmobiling
as well. As for me, I was on foot and I wanted to make it to the fire tower which sits atop the summit. Here's my map:
As you can see from the map, the winter parking lot is significantly lower than the summer parking lot which adds about 2.2 miles (round trip total) to the hike. Its not too bad of a walk up the road and there are cut-off trails which were easy to find to avoid taking the switchbacks.
In the summer, if you have a 4x4 or just a good car, you can make it up the dirt road all the way to the upper parking lot which cuts off that mileage. There's a wonderful spot for lunch at the top with views of Mt Kearsarge and Ragged Mountain to the west.
|View of Lake Winnipesaukee from the Fire Tower on Belknap
From the upper parking lot, the hike is pretty straightforward. Its 0.8 miles to the summit from the parking lot on the Green Trail which is relatively well marked by green blazes. It was ice though! Bring some micro spikes! I was on the summit in no time at all.
The summit has one of the few remaining active fire towers in New Hampshire which is great for hikers. The top room was locked when I hiked it but I think it may be open in the summer. Regardless, you can climb to the upper level and take pictures. While mine didn't turn out well that day, the views were epic!
Many people end up hiking Gunstock Mountain as well through the blue trail. There's also the red trail which takes you back to the parking lot in a more round-about way. Here
is a good map outlining those options.
|Nice place for lunch at the upper parking lot
Well that was a nice little winter hike! Short, sweet and direct. Its a great place if you're looking for an easy way to get into winter hikes!
Read. Plan. Get Out There!