Date: June 2, 2013
Distance: 4.14 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,168 feet
Our Hiking Time: 4 hours, 15 minutes roundtrip
Trail Blaze: Blue Rectangle (Mt. Major & Major-Straightback Link Trail) & Yellow Rectangle (Brook Trail)
Addie has been hiking longer distances, so I decided it was time to let her try tackling a trail with greater elevation gain than we usually experience on our local hikes. This past weekend, she graduated from hills to a mountain! My friend/co-worker Katie, along with five members of our school’s Outdoor Adventures Club, accompanied us on our hike up Mt. Major in Alton, NH. I picked this particular hike because the easy incline of the Brook Trail made it a realistic possibility for Addie’s little legs, yet the great views of Lake Winnipesaukee provided a great payoff for the older kids.
When we arrived at the trailhead, the parking lot was packed. I expected the trail to be crowded, but we saw relatively few hikers on the way up the mountain. After following the Mt. Major Trail for 3/4 of a mile, we veered slightly right onto the Brook Trail. Though there were the occasional steep climbs, they were short and easy to ascend. For the most part, Addison hiked on her own. Her pace was slower than my usual, but she kept up with me and two of the boys fairly well for a 2-year-old. She spent a total of about 15 minutes of the 2.5 hour ascent with me carrying her in her ergo carrier.
With .4 miles to the summit, the Brook Trail converges with the Mt. Major-Straightback Link Trail. At this point, the trail becomes moderately difficult, with a bit of scrambling up rocks. By this point, Addie was tired, but determined to keep hiking. When we rounded the corner for the last bit of climbing up the rocks, the rest of the group cheered Addie on from the summit. With a renewed spirit, she scrambled up to join them.
The summit was crowded, but we found the little stone, roofless hut built in 1925 by the one-time landowner George Phippen, and gathered inside as group to eat lunch. Addie chugged a chocolate mile and gnawed on beef jerky. After everyone filled up, we explored the rocky summit and admired the beautiful views of Lake Winnipesaukee below us, and the White Mountains in the distance.
For our descent, we opted to follow the Mt. Major Trail. Much steeper than the Brook Trail, the beginning was particularly difficult. At this point, Addie was back in the ergo carrier, and I had my backpack strapped to my front. Though I was able to use my hiking poles for balance, it was not easy to navigate the steep boulders. Naturally, as soon as we finished the really hard section of the trail, Addie insisted on walking on her own. Save for one more brief stint in the carrier, she finished the rest of the hike on her own two feet. (Except, of course, when her two favorite boys – Brendan and Brendan – were swinging her along the trail.)
Directions to the trailhead:
From Rt. 11N: The parking lot is located on the left 4.2 miles north of Alton Bay.
From Rt. 11S: The parking lot is located on the right a few miles after the junction with Rt. 11A.