It’s no wonder Mount Major’s panoramic summit, which boasts views of the Lakes Region and White Mountains, is a highly regarded destination for locals and tourists alike. With an estimated 80,000 visitors annually, though, Mount Major’s trails are being loved to death.
Soil erosion, off-trail usage, dog waste, and garbage are just some of the visitor-created impacts Forest Society staff and volunteers contend with throughout the year. Then there are the parking challenges: On a beautiful weekend in October 2018, a Forest Society trail steward counted nearly 400 cars parked in the Mount Major trailhead and spilling out onto the shoulder of Route 11 in Alton. That’s an estimated 1,000 hikers in one afternoon. For a summit that’s more than a mile from the parking area, the crowded top looked more like Hampton Beach on a hot summer day.
To remedy these issues, the Forest Society is working with a broad coalition of stakeholders on a long-term stewardship plan that enhances the visitor experience while protecting Mount Major’s natural resources. A part of the plan includes restoring the severely eroded Main and Brook trails to reduce soil erosion and to provide better access for backcountry emergency responders.
We have already hit the ground running this spring by contracting with a consultant who is assessing and developing plans for trail restoration, with the expectation to implement this plan for more sustainable trails over the next few years.
During this process, the Forest Society will continue to provide visitor services and programming at Mount Major that focus on the importance of strategic land conservation, safe hiking etiquette, and land stewardship. These programs include the Forest Society’s volunteer Trail Stewards Program, staff-led trail improvement and maintenance workdays, and the Mount Major Outdoor Classroom, which provides outdoor education for 12 New Hampshire elementary and middle schools. We’re also excited to announce that we’ll be partnering with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics this summer to teach hikers how they can each contribute to the stewardship of Mount Major’s trails. For services, the Forest Society will continue to provide portable toilets and snow removal at the trailhead parking facility.
However, we can’t fulfill our stewardship plans without your support. Your contribution will help us improve the Mount Major experience for all, from the mountain’s scenic summit to its peaceful trails. To donate, please use the donation form below.