Mt. Major in Alton, New Hampshire has been a hiking destination in central New Hamphire for generations. This summit has some of the best views in the lakes region. At the summit lies classic shots of Lake Winnepausaukee that cannot not be beat. Though the mountain is not even 2000 feet, the summit has no trees on top making for 360 degree panorama.
There are three trails to the top. The Brook Trail (Class 1) is very gradual trail and is 2.3 miles one way with 1100 foot elevation gain. This is the least used of the trails. The Main Trail (1.7 miles, 1100 foot elevation gain) is an easy class 1 trail for most of the way until nearing the top where the trail become steep scrambling and goes up to class 2 with some steep pitches, and steep dropoffs. It is very popular though, especially in summer. In winter this section has a seperate winter ascent section due to the very steep finally of the trail. The Boulder Trail (1.7 miles and 1100 foot elevation gain, is a mostly class 1 trail with one steep pitch before entering the Mt. Major's flat topped summit area.
Combining the Boulder Trail and the Main Trail would make an incredible loop on Mt. Major.
VIA BROOK, BOULDER AND MAIN TRAILHEADS: The trailhead is easy to reach off of Route 11 THere is a sign of the side of Route 11 pointing to the trailhead. Route 11 is a two-lane highway between Alton and Laconia. Mt. Major is five miles north of Alton and fifteen south of from Laconia.
As of March 17th, 2005, it is still free. Yeah!!!!!
When To Climb
The mountain can be summited at any time. Be advised in winter though that the mountain is steep and truely does become a Class 2 on the Main Trail with no trees to catch your fall for at least a hundred feet. Crampons are necessity in winter, and though you will look foolish, an ice axe isn't to bad idea if you are planning on taking the Main Trail. The other trails you will be fine with just hiking poles and crampons.
I did not see a sign for no camping on my travels and have seen people camp on it. However this mountain is very popular and I wouldn't advise camping. It also can be completed in a half-day.
Wether is similiar to that of Laconia. However you might want to add 15 miles per in wind and subtract five degrees in winter. Keep in mind that the summit is exposed so you will feel all power of the wind and the tempurature.
Here are two websites that will provided you the best information on conditions on Mt. Major.
Appalachian Mountain Club
Current Trail Conditions
Mt. Major Summiteers Log