With little time on Friday to hike due to driving the carpool both ways, I chose to stay closer to home and go straight to the Belknaps after dropping off all the kids in Concord. I was able to arrive at a reasonable time at the Mt. Major trailhead, just before 9:00a, and started up the Boulder Loop Trail. I’ve been to Mt. Major several times, but not via the orange-blazed Boulder Trail.
The Boulder Trail looks and feels less traveled than the Mt. Major and Brook Trails on the other (north) side of the mountain. I found it a pleasant hike and not really difficult with only a few little ledge scrambles in the middle portion right before the trail leveled out for the last several tenths through a section of open pines and lots of blueberry bushes. All the trees now have spring green leaves, and the forest smells alive again, so I really enjoyed the whole trail. I was quickly at the summit and was able to enjoy the whole thing all by myself, sort of a rarity for a popular, easy mountain. I even got a view of a nice little undercast over the part of the lake.
Once at the summit, the hike was not over. I had other things on the agenda for this hike, namely some redlining. There were a few small trails and portions of trails we didn’t use for the Eastern loop last month, so with some careful planning with the map, I was off on a zig-zag pattern to pick up all those trails.
First, I headed over to South Straightback via the blue blazed Belknap Range Trail, so that I could pick up the small section of white blazed Quarry Trail between South Straightback and North Straightback that I hadn’t hiked. After I arrived at North Straightback, I back tracked just a little bit to pick up the orange blazed Quarry Cut Off or Quarry Spur Trail. This little trail led me back to a junction I had passed on the way to South Straightback via the Belknap Range Trail. Back on the Belknap Range Trail, heading for Mt. Major, I made the turn onto the last new portion of trail for the day, the little section of yellow-blazed Brook Trail that we didn’t hike last month (we turned off on the green-blazed North Straightback Link). Once done with that portion, it was quick hiking back down familiar trails to the parking lot.
Although it sounds like a lot, it was a quick almost 6 miles of enjoyable hiking. I didn’t see anyone until I came to the Brook Trail for the last time, and then it seemed like I saw a lot of people and dogs! In fact, as I was pulling out of the parking lot, several large groups were getting ready to start their hike. I was just as happy to be blessed with a beautiful morning and be headed home for lunch!