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, night hike, fireworks, brook, ledges, loop hike
Distance:  4.0 miles  
Elevation Gain:  1150 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Actual: 2:15   Typical: 2:40  
Outing Duration:  Typical: 4:00  
Season:  Summer
Hike Date:  07/03/2006 (Monday)  
Last Updated:  09/06/2009  
Weather:  Warm and hazy; cool on the summit
Author:  Webmaster
Companions:  SDHrs: Dennis, Kristin, Mark, Sal, Mary, Midas (a dog), Emily, Jeff, Karen, Crystal, Dave, Diane, and several more

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 1:00 1:00
Parking lot (650') 2.4 4.0 1:15 2:15


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

Trail Guide   

Fireworks (photo by Mark Malnati) What year was the stone hut atop Mount Major built? This was one of the questions from our summit trivia contest. About sixteen SDHers participated in our annual fireworks hike up to Mount Major on the eve of Independence Day.

We started out as thirteen, and then as seems usual for this hike, met up with several more from our group at the top. The main bunch headed up the Boulder Loop Trail. It was mostly easy with some steepness near the top. The trail, as its name implies, has some interesting rock formations including a small rock "tunnel" that the route passes through.

It only took us an hour to reach the summit (1.6 miles). The bugs weren't bad. It was hot for the hike both up and down; but cool and breezy on the mountaintop. Some found the top too cold after a while; I found it invigorating, and I think Jeff said he thought it was hot.

Sunset from the summit (photo by Mark Malnati)

Upon summiting, we were treated to a beautiful sunset with a bright pink sun. It was hazy but we could still see pretty far. After wandering around to take in all the sights, we chose our positions for the best fireworks viewing and enjoyed a light dinner. Dennis and Kristin brought brownies to share.

Next up was the trivia contest. Still wondering about that stone hut? It was built in 1925 by then-landowner George Phippen. The roof promptly blew off the next winter. And a stronger roof lasted only two winters before blowing off in the spring of 1928.

Fireworks (photo by Mark Malnati) We had ten questions and ten prizes. A few of the queries were about Mount Major and the rest related to Independence Day. How did "John Hancock" become synonymous with a person's signature? Sal knew this one. It's because he signed his name in such large handwriting. When signing, Hancock reportedly said, "There, I guess King George will be able to read that". Prizes included novels, candle toppers, beanie babies, and others. Sal was our trivia champion, answering correctly on two questions. Being a gracious winner, he passed on his flashlight prize to our youngest hiker: Dave's 6-1/2 year old granddaughter.

All during our stay on the summit, fireworks were going off all around... near and far and everywhere in between. It was also fun to see all the boats gathered down in the bay near Alton, crowding around the barge from which the fireworks were to be set off. The Alton show started at 9:35... 15 minutes behind schedule... we were getting worried that they weren't going to happen.

Fireworks (photo by Mark Malnati) But then they started! It was a good show with some shapes looking like spaceships, others like flowers blooming in fast-motion, and of courses the traditional starbursts. The booms were soft and slow to reach us so a few from the group supplied their own sound effects. Emily suggested we bring up a Boston Pops recording next year. The total show lasted 25 minutes but it felt like the "finale" lasted for 10 minutes. They just went crazy at the end with non-stop, heavy-duty fireworks... we kept thinking they would end any second but it went on and on... it was great!

Even after the Alton show was over and we were gathering up our belongings, there were still big fireworks going off all over the place. We headed down the 2.4 mile Brook Trail. It's always funny to look back up the trail and see all these disembodied lights, from headlamps and flashlights, hovering about. And Dave's granddaughter was wearing a super-cool multi-color flashing necklace. She was a real trooper, only getting fatigued enough to fall a half-mile from the end. We made her feel better by telling her about the face-first fall Dennis took into the stony brook (Ouch!). And Dave made her feel even better by carrying her on his shoulders for the rest of the way.

From the parking lot, some of the diehards headed south to try to find an ice cream place that was still open. I headed north and ended up getting treated to another fireworks show in Weirs Beach that started at midnight. I hope everyone got their fill of ice cream and fireworks for the holiday!


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   


Website by Logo

© 1998-2024
Page copy-protected against website content infringement by Copyscape
The information on this site may freely be used for personal purposes but may not be replicated on other websites or publications. If you want to reference some content on this site, please link to us.