No summit today, but still a gorgeous view!
I originally considered hiking Straightback today to pick some wild blueberries, but that would have ended up being a 5 to 6 mile hike, and I wanted to keep it a little shorter, like 3 to 4, since I had some errands and stuff to tackle in the morning and early afternoon. Then on the Belknap Range Hikers Facebook group there was a report of a moose on the Round Pond trail last weekend. So I looked at my options for that and came up with a mostly out-and-back hike that would be around 3.5 miles. Even if I didn’t see a moose, at least by going to Round Pond I’d be able to cross Belknap and Gunstock off my redlining list.
The parking lot for the trailhead was easy to find, on a dirt road off Route 11A in Gilford. The directions here are excellent (scroll down to the East Gilford Fire Road trail description). There was only one pickup truck parked there when I arrived.
One tiny section of my hike followed the red/yellow merge of the East Gilford trail which I hiked during my Gunstock redlining a couple weeks ago. The difference this weekend was that the bugs weren’t as bad this time! At the end of the red/yellow merge, I resumed my redlining and took the red-blazed Round Pond trail. Until this point, it had been a pretty easy hike. Here, it got steeper – but still not difficult. On the red trail, I passed over a bog bridge built by the local Girl Scout troop (near which the moose was spotted last weekend), and later a nearly-dry stream crossing with a larger bridge over it. Before long, I reached the junction of the Round Pond-Piper Link trail. My hike last weekend covered the western half of this same trail. Now I was at the far eastern end of the trail, leaving a little over a mile in between to be redlined later.
After a short hike on the green-blazed Round Pond-Piper Link trail, I could see a bit of Round Pond peeking through the forest. BRATTS completed extensive trail work along Round Pond last year, and it makes hiking around the pond a very enjoyable trip. Lots of steps, cribbing, raised trailbeds, and drainage to prevent erosion. The trail generally stays back from the shoreline a bit, but there are plenty of great views.
I had calculated the distance of my hike to be 3.4 miles based on the trail descriptions and mileages listed in the Belknap Range redlining worksheet. But my fitness app calculated it at 4.29 miles. I assume the mileage online and in the worksheet didn’t include the distance from the parking lot to the trailhead – but I don’t think it added that much. Most likely, my math was just wrong when adding up the mileage as I planned the hike.
This is an area I’ll definitely be returning to. (Well, I have to, to complete my redlining!) Certainly a great spot to visit in all four seasons. Maybe next time, I’ll see that moose.