2005-10-06 Mt Major, N.H. - Page 2


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  1. #11

    Keeps these in mind too for day before get away's also.

    I'm going to start researching where to go in November when I get out of Concord at 1:30 - 2:00 & I want to climb something short with a view before heading to Gorham. I'd never drive up from CT just to do one of these (like Belknap, Blueberry or Morgan) but in addition to a full day in the Whites on Saturday, these make great side-trips without wiping you out for the next day
    Happy Trails, be safe & Good Luck
    Mike P.

  2. #12
    Skier75's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Barrington, New Hampshire
    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelJ
    Grumble. It requires signing up to read about it...
    Here let me make this easier for anyone that's interested:

    Sunday, October 16, 2005
    The tale of Mr. Phippen's Hut

    Assistant Sports Editor

    New signage on the Mount Major trails offer directions to both here and there. (Whaley/Staff photo)


    ALTON Mount Major is a popular area hike and one that I enjoy doing two or three times in the fall, if not more. It's an easy drive, a moderate hike and the views, specifically of Lake Winnipesaukee, are justly rewarding.

    There is history, too.

    Those who have climbed Major are no doubt familiar with the roofless stone hut, known as Mr. Phippen's Hut. There is a story there.

    According to local hiker Dave Roberts of Farmington, who has mapped hiking trails in the Belknap Mountain Range, including Major and Belknap, George Phippen of Alton once owned the top of Major.

    In fact, Roberts noted, Mr. Phippen took the trouble of building the stone structure in the fall of 1925 as a place where hikers could seek shelter during harsh weather. Back then it was equipped with a stone bench, a window to the south and a door facing eastward. It also had a roof and contained a small woodstove.

    Sometime during that first winter, according to Roberts, the fierce winter winds blew the roof off and down the mountainside. Phippen built a much sturdier roof in the summer of 1926, made of successive layers of spruce poles, corrugated iron and matched boards. This roof he firmly bolted to the masonry, making sure to leave no overhang beyond the walls that might provide some purchase for the winter winds, Roberts said.

    The new roof lasted two winters before it, too, was blown down the mountainside, where it resides to this day in relatively good shape. It lies in a spot east-southeast of the summit, about 150 feet below the hut site.

    Whaley/Staff photoThe Mount Agamenticus fire tower is no longer open to the public. However, there are fine views from a scenic man-made rise built on an old ski lift stanchion.


    The stone walls of the hut maintained their original integrity, according to Roberts, for the next 65 years or so, until one summer in the mid-1990s when some hiking vandals tore off many of the stone blocks from the wall and left them in hapless piles at the base of the hut. Some folks have tried to replace the blocks, but it would take a monumental effort to restore the hut to anything like its original state.

    Roberts noted that the hut still serves in its own small way to protect hikers from the elements during the colder months, like Phippen originally envisioned. But there it sits, a summit landmark known simply as Mr. Phippen's Hut.

    Mr. Phippen's nephew, who now owns the summer camp once owned by his uncle, has remarked that his Uncle George, who purchased the mountain top in 1914 for $125, dearly loved the view and the blueberries. He attempted to turn the area over to the state in the early 1920s so others could benefit from it in perpetuity, Roberts noted. Unfortunately, the state set conditions that could not be met (requiring the abutting landowners to also agree to a similar donation, but only one other person was willing to do so), so the project fell through.

    During the Great Depression the land reverted to the Town of Alton for taxes. In 1956, the townspeople of Alton voted to pass the land to the state for "public park purposes," according to Roberts. Mr. Phippen died in Alton in the summer of 1948 and is buried in the village cemetery.

    So next time you climb Major or if you do it for the first time, you can look at Mr. Phippen's Hut with a whole new perspective and you can also check out the roof, which must have been a sight when it flew off twice back in the 1920s.

    The Mount Major parking lot underwent expansion recently and can now hold significantly more cars for those busy fall days when the mountain is quite literally littered with hikers, young and old.


    Whaley/Staff photoThis morning view from the summit of Mount Major in Alton captures fog rising off the waters of Lake Winnipesaukee. In the foreground is Mr. Phippen's Hut.

    If you hike the mountain, there are four main trails to take and thanks to some new trail signs, it is easier to hike the least traveled of the lot the Beaver Pond Trail. That trail leaves the parking lot to the left of the Mount Major Trail. One actually follows the Boulder Trail, but after 10 minutes you arrive at a junction where the Beaver Pond Trail diverges left and the Boulder Trail continues right. The fourth trail is the Brook Trail, which leaves the Mount Major Trail to the right about 10 minutes from the parking lot.

    Mount Agamenticus in York, Maine, is a good, short hike that is great for taking kids on.

    Depending on what trail or trails you use, the hike will take about one hour round trip. I recently climbed the mountain on a sunny Monday, using the Ring Trail, which rings around the mountain. Near the summit, I followed the Witch Hazel Trail to the summit where, on a clear day, views are available into New Hampshire. An old ski lift stanchion has been made into a viewing stand. The fire tower is no longer open to the public. Many trails are open to hikers, bikers and equestrians alike and a few to ATVs.

    The climb takes about 25 minutes. The open summit has plenty of room to spread out. There is an auto road if you care to drive up.

    On the descent, I took the Horse Trail to the Ring Trail, which crosses the auto road to the trail head on Mountain Road. Descent takes about 25 minutes. As always, remember to carry out what you carry in.

    Mike Whaley is assistant sports editor for Foster's Sunday Citizen. The Trail Ahead local hiking column appears occasionally during the fall hiking season. To contact Whaley, e-mail mwhaley@fosters.com or call 742-4455, ext. 5512

    Unfortunately, it looks like the pictures from this article didn't copy, sorry.

  3. #13
    What guide books is this in? Sounds nice and leisurely.

  4. #14

    The trip to Mt. Major is in one of the Daniel Doan books, I think. Either 50 Hikes in the White Mountains or 50 More Hikes in New Hampshire.
    Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face. - Dave Barry
    Waterville 11/30; Loon 12/7; Cannon 12/13, 1/17, 2/23; Sugarloaf 12/20, 21-22; Bretton Woods 1/3; Jay Peak 1/24-25; Heavenly 2/9; Squaw Valley 2/10-2/11; Wachusett 3/3; Sunday River 3/7-8

  5. #15
    Great report and thanks for pasting that excellent article about the hut.

    I did this hike this past February on a gorgeous day that lent to awesome views of the frozen Winnipesaukee. All the ice on the steep northern end was quite interesting to go up

    When we got to the top there were three guys who said "Tough way up, huh?" in a sarcastic sort of tone. I later saw their snowmobiles parked behind Mr Phippen's hut - cheaters
    Sign, sign everywhere a sign... pointing out the trails, can\'t make up my mind.

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelJ

    The trip to Mt. Major is in one of the Daniel Doan books, I think. Either 50 Hikes in the White Mountains or .
    That would be correct. I forgot I even had this book, until you mentioned the name.

  7. #17
    It should be in older versions of the WMG, they had them in the old brick (Gray cover 24th or 25th edition)
    Happy Trails, be safe & Good Luck
    Mike P.

  8. #18
    Skier75's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Barrington, New Hampshire
    I've now been up there three times, I think this is a great short, hike just to get the old blood flowing. Not too much of a drive, approx. 45 min from where I live in Barrington.

    I still have yet to check out another trail from the top that goes over to Straightback Mtn. I'm also told that trail leads to a Fire Tower over near Gunstock, which someone said is about 12 miles. Another time.


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