Mount Major offers spectacular, panoramic views of the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Here’s your complete guide to hiking Mount Major.
After scaling some pretty steep rocks, I’m feeling a little breathless.
I notice the trees surrounding the trail are tiny now, not much taller than me. A good sign we’re nearing the summit.
I turn to see the view so far, and it’s breathtaking.
Miles and miles of pure Mother Nature are visible in every direction. Sunlight dances on glistening blue lakes, and mountains sweep across the background.
Trevor grasps my hand in his tiny little hand and we take in the view.
“I see a boat going to an island!” Trevor exclaims as he gazes across Lake Winnipesaukee.
Chris tosses him into the air, which makes him laugh and laugh and exclaim, “Again! Again!”
He seems to be soaring in the clouds…
The Mount Major hike in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire is such a worthwhile day trip.
Here’s everything we learned from our hike to the summit of Mount Major:
A Basic Overview of Mount Major
Mount Major is a mountain located in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, at the South end of Lake Winnipesaukee.
The full loop (up the mountain and back down again) is about 4 miles.
My family completed the hike in about 3 hours. We made a lot of stops along the trail though! I like to stop for photographs. And my four-year-old son, Trevor, likes to stop to throw rocks and pick up leaves. Since the views at the top of the mountain are so spectacular, we also spent about 30 minutes relaxing and enjoying the summit.
Parking at Mount Major
There’s a parking lot at the base of the mountain, located in Alton, New Hampshire.
Especially on weekends, the parking lot will fill fairly early in the morning. We arrived at Mount Major at about 9:30 on a Monday morning and easily found parking. But by the time we left, there were lots of cars parked along the side of the road because the lot was full.
Restrooms at Mount Major
There are portable toilets located in the parking lot at the base of Mount Major.
Crowds at Mount Major
Mount Major is one of the more crowded hikes I’ve experienced in New Hampshire. On a weekend, you’ll likely pass hundreds of fellow hikers on your way up and down the mountain. The summit, especially, can become overwhelmed with crowds.
If you want to avoid crowds, definitely plan your visit for early morning or late afternoon on a weekday.
The Trail Options At Mount Major
There’s a big map of the Mount Major trails located in the parking lot. And the trails are well marked.
As far as hiking trails to the summit of Mount Major, there are two main options:
The Blue Trail
For our trip to Mount Major, we took the Blue Trail going up the mountain. The Blue Trail is the steeper, more challenging trail. It’s very rocky. At times, especially near the top of the mountain, it gets pretty steep too. Nearing the summit, you do have to climb some rocks.
The hike is rated as “moderate,” but I’d call it “on the more challenging side of moderate.” I’m in so-so shape (I take daily walks and do yoga), and I was slightly winded and red-in-the-face by the time we reached the summit. 4-year-old Tru, on the other hand, scaled the mountain like it was nothing! There were some areas near the top which involved climbing on rocks – Chris had to carry Tru through some of those parts.
The Yellow Trail
Everyone begins their hike up Mount Major on the Blue Trail. After about half a mile though, the path splits. You have the option of continuing up the Blue Trail to the left or going up the Yellow Trail on the right.
The Yellow Trail is the easier of the two. It’s a longer route than Blue, but it’s less steep. The path is smoother and less rocky. But in place of rocks, there are a ton of tree roots along the trail.
I definitely wouldn’t call it an “easy” trail; it’s a “moderate” trail.
I’d recommend the Yellow Trail going up the mountain if you’d like a less challenging hike. Unless you’re a more experienced hiker who’s comfortable scaling down rocks, I’d also recommend the Yellow Trail going down the mountain.
Mount Major Is Family Friendly
Trevor loved our hike to the summit of Mount Major! He had such a fun time. We also saw several other families including young kids and parents carrying babies in backpack carriers.
As I’ve mentioned, the Mount Major hike is on the challenging side of “moderate” and it does take a few hours to complete. So definitely keep that in mind when you’re deciding whether or not this hike is best for your family.
Trevor is a really athletic and active 4-year-old and he basically flew down the mountain! But because he loves to run and jump off rocks, he tripped and fell several times going down! He also needed some help from Chris to climb the rocks as we approached the peak on our way up the mountain.
Conditions on the Mount Major Trails
Personally, I loved the Mount Major trails! The air was fresh and clear and the towering trees and jagged rocky trails were beautiful.
The trails leading to the summit are almost completely in the shade. I recommend bringing sunscreen, though, because you’ll want to spend time at the summit which is, of course, full sun.
We weren’t bothered by any insects on the trail (we hiked the trail in late summer).
My family was fine with wearing athletic sneakers for our hike. But because the trail is covered in rocks and roots, hiking boots would be preferable if you have them.
The View From the Summit of Mount Major
After I took in the view from the summit of Mount Major, I knew it was one of my favorites in New England! We’ve explored a lot of Vermont and the White Mountains region in New Hampshire, but there’s something special about Mount Major.
What I immediately noticed was that it was a truly panoramic, 360 degree view of a really stunning landscape. I saw the islands that dot the clear blue Lake Winnipesaukee and the beautiful mountains that surround the Lakes Region.
After we snapped some photos, we found a seat on a flat rock near the edge of the mountain and just breathed in that fresh mountain air and enjoyed the views.
We got out some granola bars we’d packed, and Trevor settled into my lap to enjoy a tasty snack while we pointed out all the boats and islands and mountains we could see in the distance. There was even a half-built, crumbling stone “fort” for Tru to climb and explore.
As I mentioned, we visited Mount Major on a Monday morning and the summit was fairly crowded. Although we didn’t pass a lot of hikers on our way up or down the mountain, the summit remained full of hikers during the 30 minutes we were there.
Overall we loved our hike up Mount Major. We’ve already made plans to return in October to check out the fall foliage. We’re assuming that will be spectacular!
If you’re considering a hike up Mount Major during your trip to the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, we highly recommend it!