Belknap Mountain Fire Tower

Gilford, New Hampshire
The Belknap Mountain Fire Tower, a historic landmark established in 1913, stands at the summit of Belknap Mountain in Gilford, New Hampshire.
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About This Location

The Belknap Mountain Fire Tower, a historic landmark established in 1913, proudly stands at the summit of Belknap Mountain in Gilford, New Hampshire. Soaring at an elevation of 2,378 feet, Belknap Mountain claims the title of the tallest peak in both the Belknap Range and all of Belknap County. With a staggering clean prominence of 1,842 feet, it ranks as the 14th tallest clean prominence in the state and holds a place among the fifty most topographically prominent peaks in New England.

Positioned strategically to oversee the surrounding landscape, the Belknap Mountain Fire Tower plays a crucial role as one of only 16 active fire towers in the state. Throughout the years, the tower has undergone multiple replacements and rebuilds, each time maintaining its watchful post at the mountain’s summit. In 2023, the Mount Belknap Fire Tower cab underwent replacement, a testament to the ongoing commitment to its function. Materials for the new tower were airlifted in by helicopter during the construction period from July through October.

Accessing the tower offers several routes for exploration. The Warden’s Trail (Green Trail), starting from the Carriage Road, provides the quickest route. This 2.2-mile loop features approximately 740 feet of elevation gain, rated as easy but notable for its steep and rocky sections. Families are welcome, and dogs can join the adventure. The trailhead is located at the end of Carriage Road in Gilford, NH. Accessible by taking Belknap Mountain Road off Rt. 11A, 2.2 miles east of Rt. 3, Carriage Road is a dirt road that is narrow and very steep. A skilled driver and a 4×4 vehicle are recommended. It’s also important to note that the road is gated in the evenings and during the winter.

For those seeking an alternative route without off-roading or a gated parking area, the Belknap Mountain Loop Trail offers a 4.7-mile loop with 1,466 feet of elevation gain, rated as moderate. The trailhead and parking area conveniently sits right off the NH-11A highway, providing easy access without the need for offroad navigation.

Whether choosing the Warden’s Trail or the Belknap Mountain Loop Trail, both paths lead to the majestic summit, where the iconic Belknap Mountain Fire Tower stands guard, offering panoramic views and a connection to the rich history of New Hampshire’s fire lookout heritage. It is important to note that the cab of the tower is not open, but visitors are welcome to climb the stairs up above the tree line to enjoy lovely views.

Location

Address: Carriage Road, Gilford, New Hampshire
Place GPS Coordinates: 43.517944, -71.369389
Parking GPS Coordinates: 43.517944, -71.369389
Parking Notes: The closest parking area to the summit of Belknap Mountain is at the end of Carriage Road in Gilford, New Hampshire. Carriage Road is a twisty dirt road that can be challenging to drive up, so consider the capabilities of your car. Additional parking can be found lower down Carriage Road.

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