We summit 8 small mountains and spend most of the time on Moose poop covered, muddy trails … South: From the junction of US 2 and Maine 26 in Newry, head north on 26. 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. The trail hikes over open rock with wooden planks traversing fragile alpine vegetation. When shining a headlamp outside the tent, numerous mice could often be seen. The new sections of trail are connected on the northern end by nearly eight miles of the AT between East Baldpate Mountain and Old Speck, creating one of New England’s best backpacking loops. The trail traverses strenuous terrain with substantial elevation changes. I enjoy all things outdoors including hiking/backpacking, mountain biking, skiing, xc skiing, kayaking, and writing about my experiences. 3,471 ft. Elev Gain. While the ambitious, veteran backpacker could knock the loop out as an overnight trip, the layout of the trail allows those in less of a hurry to hike the route comfortably in three to five days. 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. Last week I headed up to Maine for a few days on the Grafton Loop Trail. Note: Printable trail maps are available from the MATC and AMC. 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. On wet days, plan for some extra time coming down Puzzle Mountain, as there are several areas of open rock that can be slippery. The Grafton Loop Trail is a 38.6 mile, backcountry hiking experience in the Mahoosuc Mountains of Maine. Andy would be joining me again and we car spotted again to cut off a long roadwalk. Multiple blow downs that are easy to navigate around. 1941 Bear River Road, Grafton, ME, United States Price. 1. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. 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. to Slide Mt Campsite 3.1 mi Wildlife: The Grafton Loop Trail travels through moose country. 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. The Grafton Loop trail was a true backpacker's trail, and a welcome addition to the roster of GO backpack trips in the future! Needless to say, we left the pack alone. Overview. Take note that the western portion of the trail is accessed .6 miles south of this trailhead via a road walk on 26. There are two trailheads that access the Grafton Loop Trail, one near the north end of the loop and one at the southern end. 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. It connects an eight mile section of the Appalachian Trail with thirty miles of new trail, forming a loop hike in Grafton … A large parking area is on the left, 12.1 miles from the junction here. Androscoggin River Reservoir via Appalachian Trail and Mahoosuc Trail. We frequently had to smack them off our tents through the night. 3. terrain. 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. It's a recently constructed ~40 mile loop that utilizes a few miles of the Appalachian Trail in the western part of the state. While I never saw a bear in this area, they are not uncommon. Ladders aid hikers over rocky drops. Click here to view the entire Grafton Trails Region. For those that haven’t experienced gray jays, they will linger near hikers and take food from your hand. Day 3: 5.1 mi https://www.strava.com/activities/3878370921 The climb up Long Mountain with approximately a 1,000 feet of elevation gain begins immediately after the Town Corner Campsite. The eastern portion of the loop travels through areas that were logged with lots of new dense vegetation that would be a good opportunity for ticks to grab onto you. 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. Wow! The trail crosses through some interesting hardwood stands on the opposite side of Long Mountain. 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 … Most of the loop’s route can be seen from the summit, including Old Speck, Grafton Notch, the Baldpates, and nearly all of the eastern half of the loop. The summit has a viewing area that takes in much of the Mahoosuc Range and stretches toward the Presidential Range on the horizon. Different than most hiking in the White Mountains; trails are much less traveled. Thanks so much for your awesome trip report. 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. East Baldpate is another open summit with fantastic views. For those who have the benefit of a good day, the 1.8-mile Woodsum Spur Trail circles the open ledges of Puzzle Mountain to provide views in all directions. After I thru-hiked the AT in 1999, I never worked full time again. The trail eventually breaks into the hardwoods for a long stretch of the hike. 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. 3. The Grafton Loop Trail, in the Mahoosucs Range of Western Maine, is one of the newest major trails to be built in New England. A large parking area is on the right, 4.7 miles from the junction across from Eddy Road, here. The Grafton Loop Trail traverses sections of private land. East Baldpate Mountain:  East Baldpate gives Sunday River White Cap a run for its money as the best view on the loop. In comparison with the venerable trails simply over the border in New Hampshire, the Grafton Loop is comparatively new. DIFFICULT 6.6 mi. Puzzle Mountain via Grafton Loop Trail. Goose Eye Trail Loop. The trail emerges from treeline as it reaches the West Peak, then drops into an open col via a few wooden ladders. 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. A beautiful, high meadow sits between the East and West Peaks that is traversed on bog bridges. Elevations range from around 700 feet near the southern end of the trail, to 4,170 feet on the summit of Old Speck. The wear and tear difference between the Appalachian Trail and the Grafton Loop Trail is striking, bringing with it a feeling of further removal from civilization. Trail Manager. Portions of the trail traverse both Maine’s Grafton Notch State Park as well as a … Best Hiking and Camping Gear Deals from the REI End of Season Clearance Sale, Year in Review: 19 of The Trek's Top Posts from 2020, Enlightened Equipment Uprising Hammock Underquilt Review, Senate Considers Bill Ending Ban on Mountain Bikes in Wilderness Areas, My Five Favorite Hiking Foods That I Eat Every Day, My Favorite Gear for an Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike, Uncertainty and Strife: Thru-Hiking Permits in the Time of COVID-19, Learn to Poop Outside Responsibly with a Backcountry Bidet, https://www.strava.com/activities/3870759583, https://www.strava.com/activities/3873658635, https://www.strava.com/activities/3878368520, https://www.strava.com/activities/3878370921, https://www.strava.com/activities/3878371495, https://www.strava.com/activities/3878372815, https://www.strava.com/activities/3878374720, https://www.strava.com/activities/3879624057. It just so happened that soon after we crawled into our sleeping bags for the night at the Stewart Campsite, the moose calls returned. Appalachian Trail hikers past, present and future are invited to follow along with the Maine and New Hampshire section hiking blogs. The Grafton Loop Trail offers a great taste of backpacking in Maine’s rugged mountains. Bears also make this area home. There are other free online hiking apps for smart phones have at least some of Grafton's trails registered. For anyone looking to hike the 16.2 miles from Route 26 to the Stewart Campsite, you should know that the site is located at least two-thirds of the way up the mountain. For those not deterred by heights, the tower can be climbed. 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. I appreciate your extensive review! Nearby Hiking Trails. You made it all the way to the bottom. 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. To learn more, please visit the About This Site page. 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.) 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 … Despite the heat, it felt good to be hiking among the pines, evergreens and big rocks of the north. Snow patches can linger in shaded areas well into May during snowier years. MODERATE 6.6 mi. Sargent Mt Campsite to Sunday River Whitecap Mt 1.0 mi We “enjoyed” an interesting night at the Stewart Campsite. 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. A forty-mile loop with four major peaks and several more glorious views, even if the weather was mostly crap we might have … 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. 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. I experienced them on East Baldpate and just below Old Speck. Slide Mt Campsite to Bull Run Campsite 1.0 mi While driving down Route 26 last week I spotted the logging road and the plan was in place for this week. Backpackers of all experience levels will find the the loop a worthy destination. Cairns mark the route over open summits. 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. 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. Two popular ones are Komoot (with turn-by-turn voice directions, if desired) and AllTrails I did have one tick but it was only on my sock. Puzzle Mountain Loop … Your email address will not be published. Nearby Hiking Trails. we hike with are dogs and wondering if there is a possible way around this for the dogs? Those who make the climb are greeted with stunning 360-degree views from the lofty perch. North of Stewart tent site the trail crosses and follows several brooks en route to East Baldpate. As a result, camping is limited to designated sites and the Baldpate Lean-to on the AT portion of the loop. The trail overall is in good condition. The trail up to the summit was almost bizarrely well constructed, given the comparative rarity with which this mountain must get climbed. The trail crosses lengthy stretches of open rock marked with cairns. At the foot of Puzzle Mountain there’s another brook, from which the water quality seems questionable at best. Excellent synopsis! Appalachian Trail This classic 54-mile section travels through Maine's infamous 100-Mile Wilderness where countless notches, summit bids, and … The Grafton Loop is a roughly 39 mile, 9 summit hiking loop formed by connecting a portion of the Appalachian trail with the Grafton Loop Trail. 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 … After living in Maine for eight years, the hike easily ranks as one of my favorite hikes in the state. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. The trail spends most of its time in the forest, with a handful of open summits that offer classic Maine mountain views stretching all the way the Presidential Range in New Hampshire. I saw a large bull in this section and a smaller cow. There’s one short but relatively steep stint, but overall Long Mountain is a speed bump on the way to Puzzle Mountain. 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. Sunday River Whitecap Mt. Popular day hikes include the Table Rock Trail and the AT (to the summit of Old Speck). The area was overrun with mice at night. backpackers to experience a multiday backpacking trip in fairly remote and rugged terrain There’s parking at each road junction (directions at the bottom), one at the AT parking lot in Grafton Notch State Park, the other near Eddy Road in Newry. Despite the lower elevation, the climbing is somewhat more gradual in either direction from the southern trailhead. The Grafton Loop is a roughly 39 mile, 9 summit hiking loop formed by connecting a portion of the Appalachian trail with the Grafton Loop Trail. Starting at the southern end will also begin and end your trip near the low point of the loop. The loop features excellent scenery with challenging, yet fun terrain. However, an observation tower stands on its summit. The best weather for hiking the Grafton Loop is between late May and mid-October. The loop was built with backpackers in mind. Grafton Loop Trail. Part 2 of my solo overnight backpacking hike on the Grafton Loop trail in Maine. Fortunately, there are eight campsites in addition to the lean-to, so finding an appropriate spot to camp isn’t an issue. The AMC map is more up to date, but the MATC version has trail distances. 2. Thanks for your support! The Grafton Loop Trail, near Newry and Bethel, Maine is 38.6 miles long and has approx. 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. Overall it’s 3.2 miles from the top of Puzzle to the parking lot, and the majority of it is relatively easy hiking. This is a moderate one way trail in Grafton Notch State Park. https://www.strava.com/activities/3878372815 >>Click Here For Pictures/Slide Show … … And as a bonus, you enjoy 360-degree views of gorgeous terrain the entire way. based on 9 tracks & routes | | DIFFICULT DIFFICULT. Your email address will not be published. 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. 771 votes, 17 comments. According to the AMC, the brook by Stewart tent site can be unreliable. This major trail effort was a cooperative effort among private landowners, the state of Maine, and nonprofit organizations such as the AMC. DIFFICULT 34.8 mi. 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. I used my Garmin to track mileages (which seem to differ at times from the AMC signage): The eastern side of Route 26 is the longer (21.1 miles) and more difficult section of the Grafton Loop Trail. 4. The complete loop didn’t open till 2007 after a serious collaboration between personal land house owners, the … 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 … Just to clarify, no prior reservation or permit is required for camping at along the Grafton Loop? I at least had the comfort of knowing that Brad, by virtue of his full beard, was the better mating prospect for the moose. https://www.strava.com/activities/3878368520 All of the campsites appear to have bearboxes, outhouses and usable water sources. Typical temperatures during the summer will be in the 70s and 80s during the day and 50s at night with humid conditions. Only concern is the ladder that you picture in this article. The southern end of the loop between Bald Mountain and Stewart tent sites travels just over seven miles between designated sites, so plan accordingly. Download its GPS track and follow the route on a map. Hike the trail for foliage views. Arrived mid to late afternoon and parked at the designated lot on … A subreddit for traveling backpacking and wilderness backpacking, not restricted … 26 to Bald Mt Campsite 1.68 mi https://www.strava.com/activities/3870759583 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. 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. We looked inside and discovered a multi-day backpack, which we assumed someone stowed for a quick off-trail pit stop, so we didn’t disturb the pack. 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. 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. I encountered almost no other people on the trail. Hi, I'm Troy, AKA- TOMCAT. As an added bonus, gray jays frequently greet hikers that linger long enough near the summit. MODERATE 7.2 mi. The Hike. Starting at the southern trailhead does seem to have a few advantages. 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. You could here them walking and jumping through the vegetation, which is surprisingly loud and disturbing for such a small animal. The site itself offers a few large tenting areas with water, but it’s a trickling stream. Washington and everything in between. The Grafton Loop Trail allows backpackers to experience a multiday backpacking trip in fairly remote and rugged terrain. 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. All of the designated camping areas have a water source. I personally recommend the Lane tent site on the eastern section of the trail. 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. : this 3,335-foot summit is a possible way around this for the Grafton Loop trail offers few. 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