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Belknap Range Trail is a 5.5 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Gilford, New Hampshire that features a lake and is rated as difficult.
A worthy five mile hike to bag three different mountain peaks, plus a fire tower and some great panoramic views over the Lake Region. If you're hiking during the mountain's ski operations like we did, you'll even find a pub on top of Gunstock Mountain!
We prefer to begin our hike in a clockwise direction, bearing left off the forest road and heading uphill towards Gunstock Mountain. Tackling the first and steepest twelve hundred feet of elevation first is a big advantage, though thankfully even the steepest of trails on this route isn't really much of a thigh-burner. Watch out that you don't take the false trail to the right of the overlook before the summit that will lead you to a dead end - remember to backtrack to the overlook junction and bear left as you continue to the top of Gunstock. These Western slopes of Gunstock are heavily wooded and don't interract at all with the ski resort.
From here, weave in a Southeasterly direction from Brook Trail to Saddle Trail to Blue Trail until you find yourself on top of Belknap Mountain. At 2,380 feet this is the highest of the three peaks on this route.
There's been a fire tower on this mountain since 1913, though it's been replaced or rebuilt several times and lifted an additional ten feet in 1979. You can climb the stairs of the firetower to admire the views from underside the locked cabin. The fire tower is one of around 27 standing fire towers in NH, and one of the goals of the state's Fire Tower Quest Patch.
Head downhill on the White Trail, enjoying the views towards Manning Lake on the way. After decending around 500 feet pick up the Old Piper Trail for your last ascent of the day - the 200 feet to Piper Mountain. The views from here are great, and you don't have to take the additional short out-and-back journey to stand on the summit proper unless you're looking for bragging rights. Returning to the trailhead on the Piper Mountain Trail is all downhill from here.
Conditions along the trail are fair, with only some rocks and roots underfoot. If you're looking to bag the Belknap fire tower without the other peaks, then All Trails has a 1.7 mile route here, though you'll need to add on 1.3 miles each way if the forest road gate is locked during winter and spring.
Check out our trail route map at Trailspotting.com for full details and download it to your phone for free.
Very nice hiking trails. The gate closes at 6pm, so if you are planning a later start, park before the gate, and then you can take your time getting back.
The trails in the Belknap Range vary in difficulty from mostly moderate to difficult. Some trails some people would consider easy but there's not very many of those. It is a beautiful place to hike and it is very challenging on many levels. It's my favorite place in New Hampshire to go hiking.
Trail very icey but with cleets was good fun. Walked up the main road to the parking area.
Do not attempt this walk with a bad back.
Pack a lunch and enjoy the view near the top.
Amazing trails-well marked and naintained...though ... a map is very useful...interconnecting trail system
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