The Lakes Region Conservation Trust and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (Forest Society), along with the Belknap Range Conservation Coalition and its members, including the towns of Alton and Gilford, are very grateful to extraordinarily generous donors who helped us complete the campaign to conserve four key parcels of land in the Belknap Range. More than 1,800 individual donors, foundations, and other grant-making organizations, and the towns of Gilford and Alton, provided support for the project totaling $1,800,000. This multi-year project was completed in April 2016.
The four parcels of land total approximately 950 acres and encompass parts of key hiking trails, including the most popular trails to the summit of Mt. Major, unfragmented forests and rare plant communities, and valuable wildlife habitat. They also contribute to the protection of the water quality of Lake Winnipesaukee and other nearby lakes and rivers.
The four parcels are as follows:
- 75 acres in Alton adjacent to the Mt. Major Trailhead on Route 11.
- 100 acres in Alton just west of the summit of Mt. Major abutting the Mt. Major State Forest.
- 331 acres in Gilford encompassing the northeast face of Piper Mountain, the south and southeast faces of Belknap Mountain, and the valley of Moulton Brook, which flows to Manning Lake.
- 455 acres in Alton west of Mt. Major, encompassing the summit and slopes of East Quarry Mountain.
The Belknap Range southwest of Lake Winnipesaukee is a treasured recreational and scenic resource. At the range’s eastern end, Mt. Major beckons as one of the most popular hikes in New Hampshire. Many hikers, however, have no idea that portions of the Mt. Major trails and other key Belknap Range trails pass through private, unprotected land. While many landowners have generously allowed public use of trails on their lands, there are no guarantees of future accessibility to trails on land in private ownership and no permanent protection for significant parts of the Belknaps’ forested landscapes.
The Mt. Major/Belknaps project ensured that the four key parcels described above, as well as the significant portions of the Belknap Range trail network on these parcels, will be available for people to enjoy today and in the future.