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.
That's all folks!
I'd like to thank everyone for reading my trip reports and sharing your constructive feedback and positive comments.
See you on the trails and enjoy the next adventure, wherever it takes you.