Belknap Bliss Return to Round Pond & More Mountains
by Amy Patenaude Outdoor/Ski Writer
Brrrr, the morning was chilly, the skies were clear and blue and it was a fine day to go hiking in the Belknaps. Fall is here.
At 9am we snagged the last of the five parking places at the East Guildford Trailhead on Wood Road (overflow parking is below roadside on Bickford Road).
Our plan was to make a fast loop, more like a figure eight, to Round Pond, over Mt Mack and over Mt. Klem and back to Round Pond. We jogged up the trail just wearing our waist packs (just say no to calling it a fanny pack). We carried water and the essentials. As I jogged along I hoped I would warm up soon since it was colder than I thought. I did warm up but in hindsight I wish I had brought along a wind shirt. I was chilly longer than I liked.
Up the East Guilford Trail we went and then turned onto the Round Pond Trail until we reached the pond. Round Pond’s sparkling water was extra lovely surrounded by the trees that had turned early boasting bright red leaves. The trail along the edge of the lake with its stepping stone work and solid foot bed not only looks nice and natural but protects the trail and pond.
This past June I visited the area but it was a cloudy wet day. As we made our way around the pond I realized just how much the clouds were hiding then. Now I could see that Belknap Mountain was big and round right up above the pond.
Leaving the Pond’s edge we headed up to Mount Mack. Nearing the summit we stopped at the first view ledge and enjoyed the vista. Last time I saw nothing but the inside of a cloud. This day we had an amazing view far south—Mount Kearsarge, the Uncanoonucs and even as far as Mount Wachusett we could see from Mount Mack’s ledgy perch. Our break was brief because the light wind had a cold bite to it and I needed to keep moving to stay warm.
Down we went and back up following the Mack-Klem loop, we made our way to Mount Klem. We turned left and ran up the spur trail to Klem’s summit highpoint. We posed for a photo by the trail sign since this was my first visit to Klem and then we hit the trail again.
Jeremy suggested adding an “out and back” to Mount Rand and since we were making good time and I was feeling good I followed as he led the way. This would be my first visit to this peak too. This part of the Dave Robert’s Quarry Trail is steep and rocky and we had fun scrambling around and over. Here we met a couple that were traversing all the peaks of the Belknap Range in a single day.
We retraced our footsteps and headed back to Klem and then, in a short distance of descending, we hit Klem’s north facing open ledges. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest wow factor this vista was certainly a perfect 10!
Now I know why Jeremy had, back in June, recommended that our small group skip summiting Klem. We would have missed the big, big view across the big lake to the Ossipee Mountains and beyond the Ossipees to the White Mountains. As soon as I saw this vista I thought I have to bring Charlie back here!
The sun felt warm on my skin and the wind didn’t feel as cold anymore. Jeremy gave me a homemade chocolate brownie bar and I was happy to accept it—and it was super yummy.
When we returned to Round Pond the early turning trees reminded me again that it is fall and by the time you are reading this the pond will be fully rimmed with trees exploding with red and gold leaves.
Jeremy led us back to the car via the Fire Road. Our pond and three peak route was about seven miles long. I look forward to hiking in the Belknaps again soon.