Granite State of Mind, #34: Mount Major, Alton
Everybody hikes Mount Major. It's more than a hill and less than a mountain at just shy of 1,800 feet, an easy ascent in exchange for the panoramic views of Lake Winnipesaukee and the surrounding area. Heck, I can remember a high school student government weekend retreat that included a few of us running up the trail on a dare. For many seacoast kids it is a perennial rite of passage, that first "real" hike to a summit that feels like an accomplishment. I know my boys felt like mountain climbers when they first got to the summit and perched atop the stony remains of the old hikers' shelter.
The woodsy Brook Trail and brief rocky scramble atop Boulder Loop are the perfect grace notes to the summertime symphony of New Hampshire, an up-and-down tromp you can knock out before lunchtime and break just enough of a sweat to mitigate the guilt from the ice cream you'll have that afternoon. The White Mountains boast many more serious hikes and more varsity peaks than modest Mount Major, but none more readily accessible, family-friendly, and joyously familiar.