No Pain, Plenty of Gain: Hiking Mt. Major

Hiking can be intimidating, especially if you haven’t grown up with your parents dragging you out of bed at 6:00 in the morning and forcing you to climb a mountain with them. We all have that friend who ends up in the Himalayas or the Andes with the most incredible pictures, scaling rock faces with their bare hands, etc. Walking Patagonia ads, ugh. Never fear, dear reader, you too can be a little like that person!

Mt. Major, in Alton, offers all of the social media benefits of a hike without the physical strain of the Granite State’s numerous 4,000 footers. In all seriousness, it’s a fun hike for all ages, the mountain is pet-friendly, and you won’t break your back over the climb. It’s a great place to bring a date because you (probably) won’t have pit stains by the time you reach the summit. Mt. Major has all of the benefits of hiking in NH without the incline and blistering winds of, say, Mt. Washington. Best of all, the views of nearby Lake Winnipesaukee and the White Mountains beyond are stunning. At the rocky summit, you’ll find a neat stone cabin and countless cairns. IMG_1585

There are numerous trails to the summit. The Main Trail is a mere 1.5 miles to the top and a bit steep at times. The Brook Trail is less steep, a little longer, and good for taking breaks along the way. It’s also easier on the knees on the way down. Round trip, the hike takes anywhere from 1 to 2.5 hours, depending on your speed.

The best part of the mountain has nothing to do with the mountain itself. Many hikers miss out on the one obvious attraction by Mt. Major: Lake Winnipesaukee. Ellacoya State Park is about a 10-minute drive up the road from the trailhead parking lot. Forget befriending rich people with giant lake houses: Ellacoya is a public, sandy beach with a great swimming area. There’s also a to-die-for panoramic view of forested hills that surround the lake, and the water is crystal clear. It’s a great way to cool off after a sweaty hike on a humid NH summer day.

Hiking a mountain does not have to be a painful, herculean task. We can’t all be like that guy who has perfect hair and scales Aconcagua with their college buds. We can, however, pack a daypack, head up to Mt. Major, and take some sweet selfies. Mt. Major is challenging but doable for beginners, family friendly, and a pleasant stroll for more experienced hikers. As always, be prepared, pack plenty of food and water, check the weather and have fun!

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