Hobblebush Viburnum lantanoides.
Gunstock Mtn. 2250'/ Belknap Mtn. 2382'/ Piper Mtn. 2044'
Approx. 4.5 Miles 1400' Elevation gain
Kevin, Judy and Emma
Oftentimes when we have other obligations and time is limited, we'll head to the Belknap Range for a short day-hike. We've climbed Gunstock from the Gunstock Recreation Area on many occasions, but have been looking for different approaches. On this trip we decided to go along Belknap Mountain Road in Gilford Village to the base of the Belknap Mountain Carriage Road and make a climb we have only made once before. From near the gate at the bottom we made the climb to Gunstock on the Gunstock Mountain Trail. Although the Southern New Hampshire Guide has excellent descriptions of the trails in this area, somehow this trail was overlooked, so distance and elevation gain are estimates. The trail is moderately steep with good footing and reaches the summit from behind the Ski Patrol Hut. There are a couple of alternative trails near the summit which connect with the Brook Trail to make the final approach. When we started out from Kingston the previous night's rain had dissapeared and we drove up in beautiful sunshine. Leaving Rte. 11 in Alton to make the drive around the Belknaps to Gilford Village we drove into a bank of clouds and from the west side of the range discovered that the low summits were engulfed in fog. The trails were wet and there were puddles and small trickling streams along the way. As we climbed the fog began to burn off and began to offer some views. On Gunstock views east to the Ossipee Range were limited to the low cloud cover and peaks such as Mount Shaw were hiding in the overcast sky. There was a stiff breeze which we ducked out of on the deck of the Panorama Pub where we had our lunch. The wind had blown a trash can over and it's contents were spread around the summit, so after eating we spent a short time picking up trash, then made our way down the Brook Trail to where the Belknap Range Trail left south to Belknap Mountain. We made our way along this trail until we reached the firetower. Not being familiar with the trails on Belknap and wanting to return to our car a different way then we had come, I was able to get some excellent advice from the Fire Warden, Dana. He showed me the map and suggested the trail over to Piper Mountain where we could take the Piper Mountain Trail back down to the base of the Carriage Road and our car. Just what we were looking for, and better yet, more new territory. Having never descended from Belknap Mountain before we were happy to be on new trail and the trip to Piper Mountain proved interesting and worthwhile. Very nice hike which we will be sure to repeat.