Hiking is one of my favorite activities, so I always look forward to spring when the weather gets warmer and I can finally get back out on the trails. It's something I enjoy doing with my friends, family and our pets.
The first couple hikes of the season can be a challenge as your body readjusts to the activity. My mom and I, joined by our two dogs, headed to Belknap Mountain Road in Gilford for our first hike of the season. The entire access road wasn't open yet, so we parked off to the side, headed down the access road past the gate. We headed up the Piper Mountain Trail off to the right, which leads to a summit a little over a mile up. Piper Mountain, part of the Belknap Range Peaks (12 total) is only 2,044 feet so it's a fairly quick and easy hike depending on your pace and the conditions. The trail starts out steep right away then winds nicely to the summit, where other trails can be accessed.
Because it's spring, the terrain posed some challenges: ice and lots of mud. The ledges near the summit were slippery, especially on the way down, but should be clear within a few weeks. The day was clear though, so the view near the top and at the summit were great. Though the views are somewhat limited in my opinion, I like all of the interesting rock formations that have been built up there.
While we used the trail from the access road, you can also get to the summit from the White and Old Piper Mountain trails. Further up Belknap Mountain Road, there are several trails leading to Belknap Mountain, on the backside of Gunstock.
I'm looking forward to conquering some bigger mountains this summer, but I will always love the Belknap Mountain trails because they aren't crowded, don't take a whole day to hike and are easily accessible from where I live.