Explore Matt Hikes - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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backpacking
6 days ago

This trail was awesome. It was definitely steeper than I thought it was going to be. The trail is well maintained and easy to follow. I took the time to find the plane crash on Belknap mountain. I wouldn’t attempt to find it unless you are absolutely sure of where you are and and confident in your ability to get back to the blue trail. (You have to leave the trail to find it.) I’ll definitely do it again!

Great views along the trail and from the fire tower and Gunstock Mountain.

Good hike, dogs welcome!

Did Black Snout and Shaw with my husky Sable yesterday via the Gorilla trail. Great short cut to Black Snout and Shaw, but most of it is steep and lacks many Blue blazes, so take your time!

Did this trail yesterday and met Barbara (review below) on the top. We did the trail in the opposite direction, up Italian, down Shaw. I would suggest this way, so different opinions on direction.
I found it amazing how poorly marked the trails are. No signs at all of the lower trail junctions and old faded blazes on the trees. Maybe it would have been easier without a layer of newly fallen leaves. I've done all the 4Ks and 34 of the NH52WAV and consider myself very good at following a poorly marked trail, but this was a struggle. Everybody we met along the way struggled too. Thanks Barbara for the suggestion of using the AllTrails app. It works well and I'm glad you all found your way down OK.
With that said, the views and foliage were fantastic!!

DO NOT DO THIS HIKE WITHOUT TRAIL GPS!!!! Without my AllTrails app for GPS, this trail would have impossible to find, so poorly marked. Especially with the leaves covering the trails. Went up Shaw and down the Italian Trail. If you are doing the loop, this is the way to go. Shaw is steep in areas but not too bad. Had some novice hikers with me and one fell in the brook trying to cross, water was high yesterday and rocks very slippery. Views from all 3 summits if you do the loop are decent. Almost 8 miles RT. Would do again but only with GPS.

Started at the Jesus Valley trailhead. Took Snowmobile (red), then Main (blue) all the way up to Straightback Mountain. This trail well earns it's name. As soon as we started on the trail it was a mile straight up. The first 2 miles took us 2 hrs. At the top of Straightback we took Main (blue) over to Brook (yellow), then back to Snowmobile (red) to get back down to the trailhead. It was super foggy the day we went but I'm sure the views would have been pretty nice from the top. I will go back but I would not take the blue trail up again.

Hiked with my 6 and 10 year olds.

This hike is harder than advertised. It's not difficult but it definitely on the higher end of moderate.

First 1.5 miles has a low but steady incline with a few water crossings. After you lose the brook it starts to become more difficult. The next .75 mile you gain a lot of elevation and you will really notice it. Once you hit the carriage road the trail becomes very easy for the last mile until the summit of Shaw. From Shaw to Black Snout is all carriage rd and easy hiking.

Shaw has 180 views of the Sandwich Range and the White's. Black Snout has 180 views of the lake.

Both children faired well but my 6 year didn't want to go back down the Shaw trail because of the steep part. She conceded and did well. There is another trail to the parking lot from Black Snout to Big Ball and down but we decided against it.

Over all nice hike. Views are almost non-existent until either peak but the summits were worth the wait.

Thankfully we read the comments from other hikers so we were mindful of what to expect. Trails are not well maintained but luckily we found ourselves only having to backtrack a couple times. We followed the green/red blazes up until it met up with the blue ones. And then turned back and followed that for the way back. Overall, it’s a good workout with great views along the way.

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked the loop as shown, including the out-and-back on Brook Trail. A few hints: 1. The entrance to the orange trail is a short walk up the carriage road from the lower parking area (not at the lower parking area); 2. Don't bother with the out-and-back on the Brook Trail - there's no view to be had - instead do an out-and-back on Overlook Trail for a few extra miles and a view; 3. There's a great view of the Eastern Belknap Range about 10 yards from the intersection of the yellow (Boulder Trail) and white trails southeast of the Belknap summit - worth the short walk; 4. the white trail has some nice views but is a little rooty/rocky - still worth it; 5. Walking the carriage road back is ok, but hike over northern part of Piper if you don't want to deal with a few cars and/or a lot of pavement.

Overall a good hike! Views from the Belknap fire tower were great. Gunstock was, eh, ok. Would hike again.

Awesome trail! Took my 6 year old and she loved it!

Great hike! I parked at the upper carriage parking lot which left a 2 mile loop (green trail up and blue down) to Belknap. There's a 1/2 mile spur to Gunstock off the blue trail. The trails are very well maintained and marked. Kudos to the Bratts! Definitely moderate, not difficult. A little foggy this morning, but there are wonderful views from both mountains.
Note the upper carriage road is dicey, but manageable in a mini-van if one is careful.
John P

Easy intro hike with my tween and our dog. Minimal elevation changes.

Great hike! Took 3 kids (ages 3,5,7) and it wasn’t too bad. A little wet after the recent rain but drying out nicely. Beautiful lake views from the fire tower at the top.

Great hike. Challenging trail that is poorly marked and there is no official trailhead. The views are worth it!

what a nice little trail along the lake and through the woods. though trail is relatively flat, good walking/hiking shoes a must as you cross over small rocks and tree roots often.

nice easy hike. great view. too bad some dipshit with a drone was there that day. kinda put a damper on the 'out with nature' vibe. lots of people. probably 2-3 hrs round trip at medium pace.

hiking
3 months ago

Good hike, some really good views along the way. The trails are very poorly blazed and found myself having to refer to my GPS very often which was annoying. Italian Trail would be the easier route up if you plan on doing this as a loop. I went up Italian Trail and took Shaw mountain trail down. Overall it was 7.3 miles and a very good workout.

Very well marked trail, quick and easy hike. I hiked it with a pulled Achilles and it didn’t irritate my calf any further. We started b 8am with 70+ degree weather which was nice. LOTS of blueberries at the top!

Super easy trail and very well marked for the green trail, Great views from the top, you can see the chairlift at the top of Gunstock from the firetower. Very good trail for dogs!

was a great hike! nice Fire tower and cool cabins!

This was a bit confusing. It was a bit hard to find the trail head on multiple occasions. The trail was super easy though (once i figured it out), and the view at the top was lovely. It was kind of crowded even for a week day. Super super easy hike, would definitely recommend for beginners and children. Nothing super exciting for avid hikers though.

I agree with the review from hiker below. Logging made a mess. hiked this a week ago. Perfect weather. Only saw a handful of hikers. At the trailhead enter past the gate veer right. Stay straight on the path, about .5 the trail splits off. You will want to go right where you see the green/red blazes. You should not see any blue blazes until after you hit the look out for big ball (Tate). Beautiful views! If you do doubleback and find the red/green blazes again. The trail between big ball and black snout was overgrown and had a few blow downs. All passable. I took Shaw trail down. Great relaxing day.

Beautiful, easy walk through woods, very pretty and serene. And no bugs today.

Interesting trail... logging really messed it up. Was initially going to hike Mt. Shaw but the lack of signage and no apparent blaze had us following blue markings (do not recommend) into bush for a few miles before we were reconnected with the green red green (Italian flag) blaze. Made it to summit of 2000 feet of a smaller mountain and did not have enough steam to make it to mt. Shaw summit due to heat even though it was only around 45 mins-1 hour away. Coming back was effortless following green red green markings after we saw the first sign (!!!!) pointing to 171. Enjoy and be very observant.

Great family hike!

awesome trail, not very well marked at the peak. The dog's loved it.

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