771 votes, 17 comments. Most of the route features blue blazes. It’s also worth noting that a good portion of this segment occurs on private land, even following a dirt road for the better part of a mile at one point, so it’s important to be respectful and stay on the trail. Your email address will not be published. I did have one tick but it was only on my sock. But then no one came back and our imaginations started coming up with more far-fetched stories. For a mountain that would need to get on its tippy toes to reach 4,000 feet, the four-mile hike to the eastern summit feels much longer. From the East Peak the Loop Trail descends a ledge via metal rungs, and soon parallels a house-size boulder with a cave in the middle. According to the AMC, the brook by Stewart tent site can be unreliable. Sunday River Whitecap Mt. The next morning we made short work of the remaining hike up Puzzle Mountain, and once again the fog and mist prevented what otherwise would have been an outstanding view. The full loop didn’t open until 2007 after a major collaboration between private land owners, the state of Maine, and several conservation groups, including the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) and the Maine Appalachian Trail Conference (MATC.) Trail Manager. DIFFICULT 26.6 mi. Took me about ten hours to drive up from Jersey. It's a recently constructed ~40 mile loop that utilizes a few miles of the Appalachian Trail in the western part of the state. based on 9 tracks & routes | | DIFFICULT DIFFICULT. The trail overall is in good condition. On the western half of the trail, expect to use the brooks by ten tsites for water except for the southern two miles between Bald Mountain tent site and the southern trailhead where the trail follows a small brook. to Slide Mt Campsite 3.1 mi There are several brook crossings along this stretch, as well as three campsites in the 7.6-mile stretch from East Baldpate to Long Mountain. With all the great hiking in Maine, the Grafton Loop Trail is a rarity for the state: a multi-day backpacking loop on the outskirts of the White Mountains. Ladders aid hikers over rocky drops. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. During our night in Frye Notch we were serenaded by a lonely moose. All of the campsites appear to have bearboxes, outhouses and usable water sources. https://www.strava.com/activities/3878368520 Day 2: 8.5 mi Grafton Loop Trail . DIFFICULT 34.8 mi. Puzzle Mountain:  Puzzle Mountain, sitting near the southern end at 3,142 feet, is another peak that would probably be forgotten if not for the Grafton Loop. North:  From the junction of US 2 and Maine 26 in Newry, head north on 26. The MATC also has basic trail information here. The Grafton Loop piggybacks the Appalachian Trail for a short distance and crosses Route 26 twice, offering several choices for a starting point and direction. I at least had the comfort of knowing that Brad, by virtue of his full beard, was the better mating prospect for the moose. The trail emerges from treeline as it reaches the West Peak, then drops into an open col via a few wooden ladders. For those not deterred by heights, the tower can be climbed. The Grafton Loop Trail offers a great taste of backpacking in Maine’s rugged mountains. On the 24-mile shuttle hike up to the Moxie Bald summit, the Maine wilderness unfolds a dizzying array of flora and fauna, and panoramic lake, valley, and peak views. While rodents aren’t unusual at backcountry sites and lean-tos, particularly on the AT, I have a word of caution on the Baldpate Lean-to. Jan 12, 2019 - The Grafton Loop Trail offers a great taste of backpacking in Maine’s rugged mountains. As far as clockwise or counterclockwise, the trail can be hiked in either direction and there doesn’t seem to be any real advantage one way or another. For a Saturday on Columbus Day weekend, we only saw about ten people on the Grafton Loop portion of the trail, and each encounter came as a surprise. I don’t recall a bypass for the ladder below Baldpate. I encountered almost no other people on the trail. 3,812 foot East Baldpate sits near the northern end where the eastern half of the loop intersects the AT. Goose Eye Trail Loop. The trail hikes over open rock with wooden planks traversing fragile alpine vegetation. That said, the climb is fairly tame with several switchbacks. In a dry year, later in the season, plan accordingly in the event that the brook is not flowing. Excellent synopsis! 1941 Bear River Road, Grafton, ME, United States Price. Eyebrow Trail to Grafton Notch AT Parking 1.1 mi Appalachian Trail. Required fields are marked *. Both the Appalachian Trail (AT) and the Grafton Loop Trail (which spurs off the AT both north and south of the Rt. 1. The climb to the East Peak, elevation 3,812 feet, is more of a scramble up a steep and open rock face. East Baldpate is another open summit with fantastic views. … Only concern is the ladder that you picture in this article. The trail up to the summit was almost bizarrely well constructed, given the comparative rarity with which this mountain must get climbed. Northeast Hikes is on the hunt for the best New England hiking in Maine and New Hampshire, from Katahdin to Mt. Thanks for your support! There’s a mile reprieve in the middle leading to the side trail for the Baldpate Lean-To at the 2.3-mile mark, which is nothing more than the Baldpate version of rope-a-dope, because the ascent of the West Peak (3,662 feet) is a constant barrage of steep. Combined with the 21.1 miles of the eastern section, the Grafton Loop Trail is 38.2 miles of backpacking fun that’s ideal for fall foliage adventures. Note: Printable trail maps are available from the MATC and AMC. Two popular ones are Komoot (with turn-by-turn voice directions, if desired) and AllTrails Overview. 4. The eastern side of Route 26 is the longer (21.1 miles) and more difficult section of the Grafton Loop Trail. The area averages around 40 inches of rain a year and wet weather isn’t uncommon. DIFFICULT 7.5 mi. And while we did think of perfectly reasonable explanations, from trail maintenance gear storage to an injured hiker ditching the pack, once our minds went to Texas-chainsaw-style massacre, we couldn’t un-think it. Backpackers of all experience levels will find the the loop a worthy destination. After crossing an iron lattice … A friend and I are thinking of doing the eastern side of loop. This would be a nice spot to end the day early to enjoy the brook, with waterfalls that make nice swimming holes on hot days. Puzzle Mountain Loop via Grafton Loop Trail. From the intersection of Route 2 and Route 26 in Newry, Maine: the Eddy Road parking lot is 4.7 miles up Route 26 on the right; the Appalachian Trail lot is 12 miles on the left. I just completed the Western half of the loop in two nights three days (Wed/Thurs/Fri 8/5/20-8/7/20) starting at the southern end. The longest stretch without a campsite is on the northern end of the loop between Baldpate Lean-to and Bull Run tent site south of Old Speck, approaching eight miles between sites. With all the great hiking in Maine, the Grafton Loop Trail is a rarity for the state: a multi-day backpacking loop on the outskirts of the White Mountains. North of Stewart tent site the trail crosses and follows several brooks en route to East Baldpate. This 38.2-mile circuit is still the new kid in the hiking guidebook; the eastern half was completed and opened in 2003, while the western half began accepting boot traffic in 2007. >>Click Here For Pictures/Slide Show … It occurred to us that as the crow flies we weren’t very far from the Frye Notch Lean-To, where Brad and I stayed on our Maine Appalachian Trail section hike. The trail eventually breaks into the hardwoods for a long stretch of the hike. While I never saw a bear in this area, they are not uncommon. Appalachian Trail. Your email address will not be published. Slide Mt Campsite to Bull Run Campsite 1.0 mi However, an observation tower stands on its summit. Experienced hikers will appreciate the scenery and relative lack of traffic. There’s one short climb for lightning ledge, but the weather didn’t grant us any views. Since then I have hiked the Long Trail, Cohos Trail, parts of the PCT, much of the Colorado Trail, numerous other backpacking trips, and countless day hikes. After living in Maine for eight years, the hike easily ranks as one of my favorite hikes in the state. Appalachian Trail This classic 54-mile section travels through Maine's infamous 100-Mile Wilderness where countless notches, summit bids, and … Mud and biting insects could cause problems early in the season. Arrived mid to late afternoon and parked at the designated lot on … https://www.strava.com/activities/3878370921 Grafton Trail follows a wide gravel bench below stair-stepped cliff bands to the south and green fields, orchards, and pastures along the Virgin River to the north. Part 2 of my solo overnight backpacking hike on the Grafton Loop trail in Maine. Baldpate swings a knockout punch from the opening bell, gaining around 1,600 feet of elevation over the first mile and a quarter of the rock-studded trail. backpackers to experience a multiday backpacking trip in fairly remote and rugged terrain Portions of the trail traverse both Maine’s Grafton Notch State Park as well as a … Despite the challenging terrain, beginners will appreciate the obtainable distance and the nine campsites throughout the loop that allow for a casual pace if desired for those not looking to rush. After I thru-hiked the AT in 1999, I never worked full time again. • Grafton Loop Trail … 2. All photos are from the author with the exception of the waterfall, jay, and banner, which were taken by Josh Rosenthal. The Grafton Loop Trail allows backpackers to experience a multiday backpacking trip in fairly remote and rugged terrain. The trail, which connects to the Appalachian Trail at Old Speck and the East Peak of Baldpate Mountain on either side of ME Route 26, highlights the natural features and mountain peaks of the area encircling Bear … The Grafton Loop Trail, in the Mahoosucs Range of Western Maine, is one of the newest major trails to be built in New England. There are other free online hiking apps for smart phones have at least some of Grafton's trails registered. Lots of cobwebs encountered. 3. 2.2m members in the backpacking community. Click here to view the entire Grafton Trails Region. Record your own itinerary from the Wikiloc app, upload the trail and share it with the community. My brother Brad and I decided to take the eastern half head-on by starting at the AT lot and ascending Baldpate. A report I read mentioned this route and an old trail that heads up to Miles Notch making part of the Grafton Loop Trail doable as a day hike. Hike the trail for foliage views. Thanks to the AMC and the Grafton Loop Trail Coalition, 30 miles of new trails were built since 2002. Several of the campsites offer bear boxes for food. Multiple blow downs that are easy to navigate around. Most maps will show four campsites, but the Knoll Campsite was closed in 2013. In comparison with the venerable trails simply over the border in New Hampshire, the Grafton Loop is comparatively new. This significant trail-building effort was done over a six-year period by members of the Grafton Loop Trail Coalition, which includes the Appalachian Mountain Club, Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, the Maine Appalachian Trail Club, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Maine Conservation Corps, Hurricane Island Outward … Nearby Hiking Trails. Wow! A beautiful, high meadow sits between the East and West Peaks that is traversed on bog bridges. I saw a large bull in this section and a smaller cow. You made it all the way to the bottom. East Baldpate Mountain:  East Baldpate gives Sunday River White Cap a run for its money as the best view on the loop. MODERATE 7.2 mi. To learn more, please visit the About This Site page. The summit by itself isn’t too impressive. Bull Run Campsite to Old Speck Mt 1.6 mi While driving down Route 26 last week I spotted the logging road and the plan was in place for this week. Cairns mark the route over open summits. The southern trailhead sees less traffic and is less likely to fill up during crowded periods. The full loop didn’t open until 2007 after a major collaboration between private land owners, the state of Maine, and … While staying there on a backpacking trip of the Grafton Loop over July 4th weekend a few years back, we camped in the area by lean-to. The western section of the Grafton Loop Trail (GLT) covers 17.1 scenic miles from the Eddy Road parking lot to the Appalachian Trail lot, both on Route 26. share Share ... Time. It just so happened that soon after we crawled into our sleeping bags for the night at the Stewart Campsite, the moose calls returned. For those looking to expand on their Grafton Loop experience, the 1.8-mile Woodsum Spur Trail follows the open ledges of Puzzle Mountain before rejoining the loop. Compared to the venerable trails just over the border in New Hampshire, the Grafton Loop is relatively new. It connects an eight mile section of the Appalachian Trail with thirty miles of new trail, forming a loop hike in Grafton … Thanks! For those that haven’t experienced gray jays, they will linger near hikers and take food from your hand. By October, freezing temperatures can occur at the higher elevation campsites. Grafton Loop Trail Hike Part 1: Eastern Section, Grafton Loop Trail Hike Part 2: Western Section, The 5 Best Beer Hikes in Maine and New Hampshire, Winter Hike Baldpate Mountain Via the Appalachian Trail in Grafton Notch, Maine, A Walk on Maine’s Wild Side: 22 Days Section Hiking the Appalachian Trail, Winter Hike the Old Speck Trail in Grafton Notch State Park, Maine. As a result, camping is limited to designated sites and the Baldpate Lean-to on the AT portion of the loop. https://www.strava.com/activities/3878371495 After having read an article in a hiking journal about the Grafton Notch Loop Trail, my daughter Annemarie and I decided to check it out. The vantage point offers an interesting look toward Mahoosuc Notch, a short distance from the summit. Day 3: 5.1 mi Less worn down and in some spots overgrown, but I had no difficulty following the trail. I appreciate your extensive review! Few wet spots. When shining a headlamp outside the tent, numerous mice could often be seen. https://www.strava.com/activities/3878372815 From the Town Corner Campsite, there’s 5.5 miles to the Stewart Campsite with 3,021-foot Long Mountain in between. There’s no wrong decision because all paths lead to some of the best hiking in western Maine, highlighted by the gnarly neighbors, Old Speck and Baldpate Mountain. 1. A large parking area is on the right, 4.7 miles from the junction across from Eddy Road, here. DIFFICULT 6.6 mi. Karan headed for an extra out and back to Speck Pond while I battled a swarm of black flies to regroup with Sharon and Trang. I enjoy all things outdoors including hiking/backpacking, mountain biking, skiing, xc skiing, kayaking, and writing about my experiences. It’s a 38.6 mile loop going over Bald Mountain, Stowe Mountain, Sunday River Whitecap and Old Speck on the western side of the loop and going over West Baldpate, East Baldpate, Long and … Sunday River White Cap:  This 3,335-foot summit is a real gem that would be easily forgotten if not for the Grafton Loop Trail. Elevations range from around 700 feet near the southern end of the trail, to 4,170 feet on the summit of Old Speck. Check out the western half of the Grafton Loop Trail. Nearby Hiking Trails. On Sunday Deb and I (yes, and Tucker) ran the Grafton Loop Trail with a bunch of Maineacs and it was a mighty fine day on the trail. Old Speck Mountain:  At 4,170 feet, Old Speck is the highest summit on the Grafton Loop and the fifth highest peak in Maine. Loved the trail. The Grafton Loop Trail, near Newry and Bethel, Maine is 38.6 miles long and has approx. If you enjoyed this article, please check out my book. Old Speck Mt to Eyebrow Trail 2.4 mi For detailed trail mileage and a map, the most recent edition of the Maine Mountain Guide by Carey Kish is a great resource that covers the entire trail. 2. The AT portion uses white blazes. The loop features excellent scenery with challenging, yet fun terrain. Location: Western Maine on the ridges and peaks surrounding the Bear River Valley, Grafton Notch, and Maine Route 26, Scenery:  Forests and brooks with small waterfalls give way to numerous open summits with views across western Maine’s rugged mountains, especially the Mahoosuc Range, and into New Hampshire to the Presidential Range, Approximate Time to Hike: Most can comfortably finish the loop in three to five days. The AMC website offers a basic trail description with camping information here and a map here. View the "Old Speck Mountain - Appalachian Trail and Eyebrow Loop Trail" guide online here. Completed in the summer of 2007, the Grafton Loop Trail offers 39 miles of hiking along a trail that connects a series of scenic peaks and other natural features in Maine’s Grafton Notch. Use caution on the east side of the loop between Puzzle and Long Mountains, where vegetation obscures the trail in the vicinity of past logging operations. Date of Hike: 7/4/17 Appalachian Trail: 4.0 miles / Grafton Loop Trail: 30.8 miles / Appalachian Trail:3.8 miles Total Miles: 38.6 miles (12,645 feet elevation gained) Trip Report: - Whitney and I celebrated Independence Day with a bang by hiking the Grafton Notch Loop. Bring a shelter for use at the tent sites. 26 to Bald Mt Campsite 1.68 mi https://www.strava.com/activities/3870759583 You can read about my adventures at www.tomcatsadventures.com . The Grafton Loop Trail is a 38.6 mile, backcountry hiking experience in the Mahoosuc Mountains of Maine. It’s best to find a parking spot on Highway 9 in Rockville, then shoulder your pack and start hiking or biking south on Bridge Road. There are two trailheads that access the Grafton Loop Trail, one near the north end of the loop and one at the southern end. The Grafton Loop Trail traverses sections of private land. 9200 feet of climb. Puzzle Mountain via Grafton Loop Trail. The eastern half of the GLT consists of a 21-mile arc that leaves Route 26 in Newry, Maine, and returns to the road in Grafton Notch State Park via four miles on Appalachian Trail (AT). The peak can only be approached via the Grafton Loop Trail, with a long journey from either end to reach it. Trang, it turned out, had … Day 1: Rt. The Grafton Loop Trail is a new trail completed in 2007 that is designed to help take some of the pressure off the nearby section of the Appalachian Trail and the Speck Pond campsite which receive very heavy use. Day 2 Stats: Grafton Loop Trail, Campsite Spurs - 16.8mi, 4950' gain, 10hr 10min taken Day 3 Stats: Grafton Loop Trail, Campsite Spurs, Appalachian Trail - 11.6mi, 3250' gain, 7hr 5min taken This hike has been on the to-do list for 12 years now, and especially the last 3-4 years, but somehow it still never happened until … The Grafton Loop Trail (GTL) is located on both sides of Route 26 and links with the AT on Baldpate Mountain and on Old Speck. Go walk in a circle with these perfect hikes. To avoid the Memorial Day crowds we decided to head up to Maine and hike the Grafton Loop Trail. This is a moderate one way trail in Grafton Notch State Park. This major trail effort was a cooperative effort among private landowners, the state of Maine, and nonprofit organizations such as the AMC. At ( to the Stewart Campsite is more up to Maine and New Hampshire, the Grafton trail! 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