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About


Mt. Major, Straightback Mountain
Alton, NH

Trailheads, measurements, times, distances, and maps are all approximate and relative to the hike(s) as shown below.
Looking up the Crosscut Saw Trail near the summit of Mt. Major
Looking up the Crosscut Saw Trail near the summit of Mt. Major

Route: Mt. Major Trail, Brook Trail, Rock Cave Trail, Crosscut Saw Trail, (Mt. Major), Major/Straightback Link, (Straightback Mountain), Major/Straightback Link, (Mt. Major), Brook Trail, Mt. Major Trail

With a rare Tuesday afternoon free, I headed down away from the clouds to Mt. Major.

The trail description for the Crosscut Saw Trail sounded interesting (a crosscut saw that had grown into a tree), so I headed up the Mt. Major Trail to the Brook Trail, then found the entrance to the Rock Cave Trail (not marked or blazed, but a red and yellow blazed tree was located on the opposite side of the trail) shortly after passing a logging road on the right.

In trying to follow the right trail, I missed seeing the rock cave (which I suspect was on the left). The footbed for the trail wasn't overly obvious. Nonetheless, I found the beginning of the Crosscut Saw Trail (confirmed with a wooden sign a few feet up it). At the far curve on the trail, a state park boundary, I found two saw blades nailed to a tree - not exactly what I had expected. My guess is perhaps the old tree had fallen down and someone had hung the blade on a younger tree.

The trail continued vaguely thereafter, eventually reaching some steeps and finally, just short of the summit, some ledges.

After checking out the summit views, strong as usual, I headed down the Major-Straightback link to Straightback. After reaching the summit of Straightback, I continued south a bit to some of the ledges, where I found a decent spot to wait for the sunset.

Just as the sun was getting ready to set, a light rain started, making for a dramatic scene - and, difficult photography, as the wind was blowing the drops onto my camera lens. While this was happening, I observed purple rain to the northwest - if I were a decent photographer with a big camera, I could have captured the scene.

As good as the sunset was from this perspective, the western Belknaps likely blocked out the best of it. In hindsight, I probably would have had a better photo op on Mt. Major, as it looked like the clouds might have been reflecting on the lake. Nonetheless, it was nice to see the sunset from another Belknap peak.

For the descent, I jogged back to the Brook Trail, put on my headlamp, then jogged to the parking lot, making surprisingly good time, despite the poor footing in places.


Hike Ratings
Getting To Trailhead: Easy
Destination: Mt. Major
Length: Moderate
Steepness: Difficult
Navigation: Easy
Views: Excellent
Crowds: Moderate
Destination: Straightback Mountain
Length: Moderate
Steepness: Moderate
Navigation: Easy
Views: Excellent
Crowds: Minimal


Hike Stats
Date Hiked: Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Hike Commenced: 4:56 PM
Parking Elevation: 585'
Destination: Mt. Major
Ascent Commenced: 4:56 PM
Summit Reached: 5:44 PM
Time Elapsed: 00:48
Trailhead Elevation: 600'
Summit Elevation: 1,786'
Vertical Gain: 1,231'
Destination: Straightback Mountain
Ascent Commenced: 5:49 PM
Summit Reached: 6:13 PM
Time Elapsed: 00:24
Trailhead Elevation: 1,786'
Summit Elevation: 1,890'
Distance: 1.1 miles
Vertical Gain: 365'
Hike Ended: 7:40 PM
Hike Time Elapsed: 02:44
Hike Vertical Gain: 1,716'


The Mt. Major Trail trailhead at the back of the Route 11 parking lot
The Mt. Major Trail trailhead at the back of the Route 11 parking lot

The cross cut saw blade on its eponymous trail
The cross cut saw blade on its eponymous trail

Looking at Lake Winnipesaukee from Mt. Major - Click to enlarge
Looking at Lake Winnipesaukee from Mt. Major

Looking back toward Mt. Major while on the Major/Straightback Link trail to Straightback Mountain
Looking back toward Mt. Major while on the Major/Straightback Link trail to Straightback Mountain

The sunset over Belknap Mountain from Straightback Mountain - Click to enlarge
The sunset over Belknap Mountain from Straightback Mountain

Sunset colors north of Kearsarge from Straightback Mountain - Click to enlarge
Sunset colors north of Kearsarge from Straightback Mountain

Topographic map of Mt. Major, Straightback Mountain - Click to enlarge


Directions to trailhead: Take Route 11 West (north in reality) from Alton Bay. Parking lot and trailhead are on the left after the blasted out section of Route 11.

Back to Mt. Major Profile
Back to Straightback Mountain Profile




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