DESTINATION: Piper / Belknap / Gunstock
ELEVATION: 2044 Ft / 2382 Ft / 2240 Ft
TRAIL: Red Trail to Piper summit
Mustard Trail to Belknap
Blue Trail to Carriage Rd Parking
DISTANCE: 5.25 Miles
ELEVATION GAIN: ~1200 Ft
HIKING TIME: 2.5 hours
WEATHER: Sunny, warm
MAP: (Piper) (Belknap) (Gunstock)
From Rt 11A in Gilford turn onto Belknap Mountain Rd. I would recommend stopping at the Gilford Library to pick up a amazingly detailed map. Belknap Mountain Rd twists and zigzags to Carriage Rd (Gated). At the time of my hike the Carriage Road was gated requiring a longer road walk.
I took a slightly different approach than the recommended route and had an amazing day. I visited the wreckage of a plane crash, spotted 2 benchmarks, bagged 3 peaks in the Belknap range (Piper, Belknap and Gunstock) and visited my 10th active fire-tower in NH.
I intended to park at a much higher elevation and perform a clockwise loop starting at Gunstock and working my way over Belknap and possibly hit Piper mountain but I arrived to a locked gate at 8:45 AM on a Sunday morning (for some reason, I think it's constantly locked). I started my hike up the Carriage road and encountered the Red trail to Piper's summit on my right. I had a printout of an old topo map which didn't show any trails on Piper but as I started along the path hoped for a trail along the ridgeline to Belknap.
The hike started steep but the gradually flattened as I raised elevation. Soon I was on rocky slabs with some great views. The Piper sub peak has a Mountain throne stone chair that looks pretty cool although I didn't test it.
I could see Belknap off in the distance and found a mustard colored trail that seemed to be leading the correct direction. It led me along the ridge to a Eastern overlook and the Belknap Summit. I headed over to the Belknap summit to check off a County High-point and see the Fire-tower.
I found a steep herd path / bushwhack to a plane crash site and as I spotted the wreckage (from 75-100 Ft away) encountered an ominous feeling about the passengers when I was startled by a "hey, How you doing?" coming from the wreckage and I spoke with a fellow hiker for a few minutes.
I made my way up the steep herd path to the main trail and over to Gunstock. I could hear the creaking gears of the summit quad about 1/4 mile away and encountered about a dozen workers at the safety shack installing satellite TV and XM radio (or something like that).
I descended via the blue trail (between the Gunstock and Belknap summit) directly to the upper parking lot and followed the Carriage Rd directly back to the car.
I hiked approximately 5.25 miles in approximately 2.5 hours.