A large parking area with sign is on NH Route 11, 4.2 miles north of Alton Bay.
About the Property
NOTICE: Tree work will be happening adjacent to lower sections of the Main (blue) Trail at Mount Major from December 12-16, 2022. Hikers are asked to follow detour signage where posted, and keep all pets on leash. This tree work is part of an effort that will continue throughout 2023 to create a sustainable trail at Mount Major that will accommodate the 80,000+ visitors who hike the mountain annually. More information about this trail project will be posted as it develops.
NOTE: You DO NOT need to register in advance or make reservations to hike at this property. If you are planning to visit with a group of 15 or more, please contact the Forest Society.
A signed parking area on NH Route 11 in Alton welcomes you to the Mt. Major trail network that leads to the summit of Mt. Major and other hiking destinations in the Belknap range. The summit of Mt. Major (1,786 ft) offers views that are among the best in southern New Hampshire for the effort required.
Multiple trails (Mt. Major/Main Trail, Brook Trail, and Boulder Loop) lead to the summit providing options for a round trip hike ranging from 3 to 3.9 miles. Be aware that the upper ledges are steep and dangerous in wet or icy conditions. The Brook Trail is a good alternative route in such conditions and an option for a more gradual descent that offers views from the open west ridge that are not duplicated by the Mt. Major/Main trail.
Parking Lot Improvements & Visitor Use Guidelines
Thanks to an agreement with the NH Dept. of Transportation, the Forest Society has taken over maintenance and plowing of the Mt. Major parking area. Portable toilets are available at your convenience during the busy hiking season (May – October). Please treat these facilities with respect – they are not trash cans! Mt. Major is a carry in-carry out location. Please take all your trash home with you, including dog waste!
Please see our Visitor Use Guidelines page for a complete list of rules and regulations for Forest Society reservations.
Try an Outing on the Forest Society's Mobile App, Powered by OuterSpatial
Visitors to Forest Society reservations can now access information about land and trails easily from their mobile devices. Using the OuterSpatial platform, the Forest Society's mobile application is free and available for both iPhone and Android devices. There are three interpretive outings to choose from on our app:
This route will take you up the Main Trail (blue) 1.5 miles ot the summit, and return via the more gradual 2.1 mile Brook Trail (yellow). Along the way, we will point out a few interesting features of the landscape, natural and cultural history.
This hike is set up as a scavenger hunt to be played by families with kids. As you progress up the trail, see if you can find all of the "stations."
Leave No Trace
Main/Mount Major Trail
The Main/Mount Major trail is 1.5 mi one way and is the shortest route to the summit. This trail leaves the right side of the Mt. Major parking lot and follows an old logging road, ascending a steep, eroded section where several paths diverge and rejoin. Stay farthest to the right (ascending) to follow the trail and find slightly better footing. At the top of this steep section, at 0.3 mi., the road becomes nearly level and smooth. At 0.7 mi. is the junction of the Main Trail (blue) and the Brook Trail (yellow). Bear left to stay on the Main Trail to ascend to steeper ledges before reaching the summit. There are three main sections of steep ledges as you climb to the upper slopes of Mt. Major. At several points it is possible to by pass the steepest pitches on alternate paths that rejoin and lead to the summit. The summit, with ruins of a stone hut called "Mr. Phippen's Hut", is 1,786 feet above sea level, a gain of 1,136 feet from the parking lot below.
The Brook Trail is 1.7 mi one way. Take the Main/Mount Major Trail and continue on the logging road where the Main/Mount Major Trail diverges to the left, 0.7 mi from the parking lot. There are other diverging roads along this trail but none are as obvious as the yellow blazes on the Brook Trail. At 0.5 mi. the road appears to end, but a lesser woods road bears right toward a small brook, crosses it, and continues to climb through a hardwood forest, with loose footing on some eroded sections. At 0.9 mi. the trail swings left away from the edge of the valley and climbs to the saddle between Mt. Major and Straightback Mtn. At 1.2 mi, the trail meets the Belknap Range Trail. Here the two trails join together and turn left to climb mostly over open ledges with good views to the summit. Reach the old stone hut and summit at 1.7 mi.
Boulder Loop Trail
The Boulder Loop Trail is 1.6 mi one way. This trail leaves the left side of the parking lot and provides a route up the south side of the mountain. The lower section follows a snowmobile trail that crosses two plank bridges and in 30 yd. turns right up a bank past a boulder where a woods road continues ahead. It climbs moderately up a woods road also used as a snowmobile trail to a T-juntion at 0.4 mi. Here it turns right, then in 40 yd. bears left a a fork, where orange blazes begin, and ascends south along the woods road. The trail leads to a boulder field and continues between and under boulders until it climbes to a steep gravelly pitch. At the top of the pitch the trail turns right, then left and runs at easy grades through an oak and pine forest. The trail ascends gradually over open ledges with increasing views east and south, to the summit. To use this trail on the descent, walk south across the ledges from the stone hut and look for orange blazes on the rock.
Trail descriptions adapted from the Southern New Hampshire Trail Guide 2nd Edition by Gene Daniell and Steven D. Smith, published by the Appalachian Mountain Club in 2005.
The summit of Mt. Major offers views that are among the best in southern New Hampshire for the effort required.
A Conservation Success Story
A coalition of organizations, led by the Society for the Protection of NH Forests, the Lakes Region Conservation Trust, and the Belknap Range Conservation Coalition, successfully raised $1.6 million to conserve key parcels of land on and surrounding Mt. Major in 2015. This is the first step in the long-term stewardship of this icon mountain, and the Forest Society is still working to protect additional lands and trails on Mt. Major!
Recommended Properties Nearby
- Blueberry picking
- Cross-country Skiing
- Great Views
- Hiking Trails
- Portable restroom in summer months
- Parking area
- Trail markers
- No Motorized wheeled vehicles (ATVs, trucks, dirt bikes)
- No Camping
- No Fires
- Carry in, Carry out all trash
- Do not disturb plants, animals, or cultural features
- No alcohol, smoking, or drugs permitted.