The Belknaps: A Wide Range of Hiking Opportunities
Gunstock Mountain Resort is known for its great skiing and riding, zip lines, campground, and close proximity to Lake Winnipesaukee. With an outdoor activity for just about anyone, it is an incredible destination for locals, and out of staters. This short guide will point out some of the best local hikes to help you get out and enjoy Gunstock and the surrounding area even more.
Hiking Gunstock Mountain
Gunstock is a quick, family friendly hike. With an open summit, the views of Lake Winnipesaukee and the Ossipee and White Mountain ranges to the north are stunning, and can be enjoyed while eating lunch on the deck of the Panorama Pub.
The most popular routes are the yellow blazed Brook Trail, a 1.65 mile hike that ascends through gladed ski trails, and the white blazed Ridge Trail, a moderate 2.43 mile hike that brings hikers over Mt. Rowe and along the ridgeline over to Gunstock’s summit. The Ridge Trail, particularly, offers exceptional views of the resort’s ski trails and chairlifts, in addition to sweeping views of Lake Winnipesaukee.
Many hikers choose to go up via the “backside” of Gunstock, as the trailhead for the Gunstock Mountain Trail is located on Carriage Road in Gilford. This trail quickly ascends in 1.1 miles to the summit. This is a well traveled trail that is suitable for all types of ability levels. Hikers should be cautious during wet or icy times as some of the steeper sections can be slippery.
Hikers can also choose to ascend the ski trails from Gunstock, which provide a steep but nice hike. Read more about Hiking Gunstock Mountain.
Hikes Near Gunstock
Gunstock Mountain is part of the Belknap Range, which stretches along the southern end of Lake Winnipesaukee. The larger peaks of the range running from north to south consist of Mt. Rowe (1,690 ft.), Gunstock Mtn. (2,267 ft.), Belknap Mtn. (2,382 ft .), and Piper Mtn. (2,044 ft.). The range also continues east and includes Mt. Whiteface, Mt. Klem, Mt. Mack, Rand Mtn., Mt. Anna, West Quarry Mtn., Straightback Mtn., and the popular Mt. Major.
The Belknap Range provides a multitude of outstanding hiking opportunities for all ability levels. Many hikers choose to complete all of the peaks in the range to earn a commemorative hiking patch. Some of the most popular hikes in the range are below:
Belknap is one of the most common family hikes in Gilford. A firetower at the summit with stunning views of Gunstock, Lake Winnipesaukee, and the surrounding mountain ranges makes this a fantastic family adventure. The trailhead is located on Carriage Road in Gilford. Hikers can choose to make this hike easier during the warmer months as Carriage Road continues along close to the summit of Belknap past a gate that is sometimes closed. When the gate is open, the hike is less than a mile to the summit (.8 miles).
Piper is a 2.2 mile round trip hike with a steady incline rising around 1,000 feet from the trailhead. This hike features some really unique perspectives of Lake Winnipesaukee and the rest of the Belknap Range. It also features an open rock summit with stone stacked to make some comfy natural seating. This is an excellent family hike.
The trailhead for this hike is also located on Carriage Road in Gilford. Hikers often choose to ascend via the Mount Whiteface trailhead at the end of Belknap Mountain Road in Gilford.
Whiteface is a lesser known peak in the Belknap Range. It features a 4x4 road that can be taken all the way to the summit, as well as a low key, gradual hiking trail located at the end of Belknap Mountain Road in Gilford. This summit features a large exposed area with views in all directions. There are quite a bit of grassy areas for camping, and loads of blueberries in the summer months (like many of the Belknap Range peaks).
This hike is 2.9 miles round trip. The same trailhead is often used to summit Piper Mountain as well.
Mount Major is one of the most hiked mountains in New Hampshire. The ease of access, relatively quick hike, and absolutely breathtaking views of Lake Winnipesaukee and the White Mountains make this a must-do for anyone in the Lakes Region area.
There are multiple trail options ranging in difficulty and in distance from 1.5 miles to 2.6 miles to the summit. Here, you can read more about all of the options for Hiking Mount Major.
The Rest of New Hampshire
This is by no means a complete list of all of the extraordinary outdoor places to visit within a short drive of Gunstock. If you are willing to drive an hour plus, New Hampshire is home to some world class hiking, with lots of scenic options for all ages and ability levels.
Max DesMarais an avid outdoorsman and founder of Hiking and Fishing, an online resource to help folks get outdoors that features hundreds of trail guides for New Hampshire and New England.