Mt. Major via Boulder Loop and Brook Trails

Mountain:  Mt. Major (1786')
Trails:  Boulder Loop Trail, Major-Straightback Link, Brook Trail, Mount Major Trail
Region:  NH - Central East  
Lakes Region, Belknap Range
Location:  Alton, NH
Rating:  Moderate  
Features:  Summit, views, brook, ledges, loop hike
Distance:  4.0 miles  
Elevation Gain:  1150 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Actual: 2:30   Typical: 2:40  
Outing Duration:  Typical: 4:00  
Season:  Spring
Hike Date:  05/06/2000 (Saturday)  
Last Updated:  09/06/2009  
Author:  Webmaster
Companions:  SDHrs: Carlos C., Rich, Dave S., Phil B., Anne H., Linda S., Elaine B., Chris & Monsie D., Ellen S., Karen, Ernie G., Sal S., Pam S., Noreen

Route Summary   

This is a loop hike up to Mount Major where there are fantastic views of Lake Winnipesaukee. The hike ascends via Boulder Loop Trail and descends on Major-Straightback Link, Brook Trail, and Mount Major Trail.

  • From the back, left-hand corner of the parking lot, get onto Boulder Loop Trail which is also a snowmobile trail at the beginning and is signed as "Trail E" at the parking lot. The trail will almost immediately cross two wooden bridges and then turn right where a woods road continues straight.
  • After 0.4 mile, turn right to stay on Boulder Loop Trail while Beaver Pond Trail diverges to the left.
  • Boulder Loop Trail climbs easily at first then gets steeper as it winds amongst ledge and boulders. After a final steep pitch, you will reach semi-open ledges (where the trail curves to the left) with views and much easier inclines.
  • After a total of 1.6 miles on Boulder Loop Trail, you will reach the summit of Mount Major.

  • After enjoying the open summit, descend by walking away from the view in a westerly direction, at first across open rock, to pick up Major-Straightback Link which is blazed in blue (there are trails that descend off the mountain in three different directions).
  • Walk for 0.5 mile, first passing by a junction on the left with Beaver Pond Trail, and then arriving at the junction with Brook Trail. Bear right/straight here to pick up Brook Trail which is blazed in yellow while Major-Straightback Link continues to the left.
  • Descend for 1.2 miles at which point Brook Trail ends upon meeting Mount Major Trail which goes both straight and right. Keep going straight to take Mount Major Trail downhill.
  • After 0.7 mile on Mount Major Trail, you will reach the parking lot that you started from. This lower section of Mount Major Trail splits but you can take either branch down as they will later rejoin.

Place         Split
Parking lot (650') 0.0 0.0 0:00 0:00
Mt. Major summit (1786') 1.6 1.6 1:15 1:15
Parking lot (650') 2.4 4.0 1:15 2:30



Trail map of hike route to Mount Major (map by Webmaster)

Trail Guide   

On the trail (photo by Sal Silvestre) Dave led the SDH group along some great trails for the Mount Major hike. Although the parking area was full, we only came across two other people on the hike up. We ascended via Boulder Loop Trail, an easy-to-follow, trail that Dave and Sal had scoped out. To find this trailhead in the future, face the back of the parking lot–the trail leaves from the back, left-hand corner; whereas the Mount Major Trail leaves from the back, right-hand corner.

The route presented us with gentle inclines most of the way until we got near the top where we encountered a steep, ledgy section. We even had a short tunnel to duck through where a flat rock lays across two large boulders that flank either side of the path. We enjoyed great views during our rest breaks along this section although the respites were kept short due to the black fly attacks.

After tackling the steep section, we were rewarded with several large, open, rocky areas at the top. In addition to magnificent views of Lake Winnipesaukee and the surrounding areas we also came upon the remains of a stone hut that was built in the early 1900's to provide shelter for hikers.

Views of Lake Winnipesaukee from the summit of Mt. Major (photo by Sal Silvestre)

After about an hour of relaxing on the summit, Dave led us down Brook Trail (which coincides with Mount Major trail for the last 0.7 mile). This turned out to be another little-traveled route and we only encountered a handful of people. True to its namesake, there was a pretty brook along several sections. Thin birch and moosewood trunks arched over the pathway to form a tall arbor.

We had several naturalists in our midst that were able to identify items of curiosity. It was Phil that provided the name of moosewood (also known as striped maple) for the odd looking trees that sport a greenish-colored trunk with thin white vertical stripes running through the bark. We saw some shrubs with dogwood-like, white flower clusters that Sal informed us were hobblebush. Sal also pointed out some rock tripe (also called toad lichen). This is brown, brittle-looking, often overlapping, lichen that can be seen clinging to many boulders. It is said that rock tripe can be cooked up in a brew and eaten, although no one in the group has actually tried it.

Closer to the ground, Pam pointed out princess pine, growing a few inches high, which are a type of clubmoss. Although they go by the name of "pine" and fall into the "clubmoss" group, they are neither a conifer nor moss but rather an evergreen that is more closely related to ferns. Also close to the ground, we spotted some violets in both purple and white.


NH - Central East

  Driving Directions   

The parking lot and trailheads for Mount Major are located in Alton, New Hampshire on Rt. 11, 4.2 miles north of Alton Bay.

Heading north, the parking lot turn-off is located shortly after a scenic vista and is on the left-hand side of the road.

Heading south, the parking lot turn-off is located a couple miles after passing the junction with Rt. 11A on the right-hand side of the road.

More Mt. Major Trail Reports   


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