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. You don't have to retread the same ground to get back to where you started. The terrain below the summit is just as impressive. Hi, I'm Troy, AKA- TOMCAT. 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: 8.5 mi I don’t recall a bypass for the ladder below Baldpate. Those who make the climb are greeted with stunning 360-degree views from the lofty perch. For those not deterred by heights, the tower can be climbed. North of Stewart tent site the trail crosses and follows several brooks en route to East Baldpate. The peak can only be approached via the Grafton Loop Trail, with a long journey from either end to reach it. You can read about my adventures at www.tomcatsadventures.com . 1. 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. This major trail effort was a cooperative effort among private landowners, the state of Maine, and nonprofit organizations such as the 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. The temperatures start to cool in September, with less humidity and haze. Appalachian Trail hikers past, present and future are invited to follow along with the Maine and New Hampshire section hiking blogs. Day 1: Rt. 2. Part 2 of my solo overnight backpacking hike on the Grafton Loop trail in Maine. 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). Thanks to the AMC and the Grafton Loop Trail Coalition, 30 miles of new trails were built since 2002. Every day offered the potential for an exciting new adventure, many of which endangered the wardens’ lives. Bull Run Campsite to Old Speck Mt 1.6 mi Before reality TV, GPS devices, and dashboard computers, there was a coming of age for the Maine Warden Service. Experienced hikers will appreciate the scenery and relative lack of traffic. Download its GPS track and follow the route on a map. 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. 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. Map. I enjoy all things outdoors including hiking/backpacking, mountain biking, skiing, xc skiing, kayaking, and writing about my experiences. As a result, camping is limited to designated sites and the Baldpate Lean-to on the AT portion of the loop. The previous year, while hiking the Appalachian Trail, from North Adams, Massachusetts to Mount Katahdin in Maine, I remember seeing the trail signs and blazes for the Grafton Notch Loop Trail. While driving down Route 26 last week I spotted the logging road and the plan was in place for this week. We “enjoyed” an interesting night at the Stewart Campsite. I at least had the comfort of knowing that Brad, by virtue of his full beard, was the better mating prospect for the moose. share Share ... Time. A friend and I are thinking of doing the eastern side of loop. 2. View the "Old Speck Mountain - Appalachian Trail and Eyebrow Loop Trail" guide online here. The loop was built with backpackers in mind. Nearby Hiking Trails. Ladders aid hikers over rocky drops. Heading south from the summit, steel rungs built into the rock are needed to traverse steep cliffs. Starting at the southern trailhead does seem to have a few advantages. Bald Mt Campsite to Sargent Mt Campsite 3.4 mi South: From the junction of US 2 and Maine 26 in Newry, head north on 26. Required fields are marked *. The southern trailhead sees less traffic and is less likely to fill up during crowded periods. According to the AMC, the brook by Stewart tent site can be unreliable. In addition to being the … 9200 feet of climb. Grafton on Trailforks.com. When shining a headlamp outside the tent, numerous mice could often be seen. The Grafton Loop trail was a true backpacker's trail, and a welcome addition to the roster of GO backpack trips in the future! Learn more about Northeast Hikes here, and please feel free to drop us a line if you have any questions or feedback on this site. Gray jays also frequent the area. After living in Maine for eight years, the hike easily ranks as one of my favorite hikes in the state. This is a moderate one way trail in Grafton Notch State Park. For those that haven’t experienced gray jays, they will linger near hikers and take food from your hand. The trail traverses over eight summits including several that are open and exposed. https://www.strava.com/activities/3878368520 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 … Notify me of follow-up comments by email. The AT travels near abundant water between Grafton Notch and Old Speck. There’s one short climb for lightning ledge, but the weather didn’t grant us any views. 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. Your email address will not be published. I personally recommend the Lane tent site on the eastern section of the trail. 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. DIFFICULT 34.8 mi. 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. Jan 12, 2019 - The Grafton Loop Trail offers a great taste of backpacking in Maine’s rugged mountains. Popular day hikes include the Table Rock Trail and the AT (to the summit of Old Speck). Lots of cobwebs encountered. Compared to the venerable trails just over the border in New Hampshire, the Grafton Loop is relatively new. While I never saw a bear in this area, they are not uncommon. 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. 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. Bring a shelter for use at the tent sites. The area was overrun with mice at night. Trail Manager. Mud and biting insects could cause problems early in the season. But then no one came back and our imaginations started coming up with more far-fetched stories. to Slide Mt Campsite 3.1 mi Overall it’s 3.2 miles from the top of Puzzle to the parking lot, and the majority of it is relatively easy hiking. Washington and everything in between. Wildlife: The Grafton Loop Trail travels through moose country. Grafton Loop Trail. The southern end of the loop between Bald Mountain and Stewart tent sites travels just over seven miles between designated sites, so plan accordingly. 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. … 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. >>Click Here For Pictures/Slide Show … 3,471 ft. Elev Gain. 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. 771 votes, 17 comments. Needless to say, we left the pack alone. You could here them walking and jumping through the vegetation, which is surprisingly loud and disturbing for such a small animal. 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. All of the designated camping areas have a water source. After I thru-hiked the AT in 1999, I never worked full time again. 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. Visit Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands online for more information and a printable map or contact: Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, Grafton Notch State Park 1941 Bear River Road Newry, ME 04261 Phone: … The climb up Long Mountain with approximately a 1,000 feet of elevation gain begins immediately after the Town Corner Campsite. 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 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. Check out the western half of the Grafton Loop Trail. The Hike. I encountered almost no other people on the trail. Whether new to backpacking or a seasoned veteran, the Grafton Loop Trail offers something for everyone. Let us count the ways: You don't need to leave a shuttle. Cairns mark the route over open summits. Puzzle Mountain via Grafton Loop Trail. 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. Typical temperatures during the summer will be in the 70s and 80s during the day and 50s at night with humid conditions. we hike with are dogs and wondering if there is a possible way around this for the dogs? 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. The views stretch down the Mahoosuc Range into the Presidentials. By late October, snow isn’t unusual. 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 … Goose Eye Trail Loop. The vantage point offers an interesting look toward Mahoosuc Notch, a short distance from the summit. Arrived mid to late afternoon and parked at the designated lot on … based on 9 tracks & routes | | DIFFICULT DIFFICULT. We summit 8 small mountains and spend most of the time on Moose poop covered, muddy trails … There’s one short but relatively steep stint, but overall Long Mountain is a speed bump on the way to Puzzle Mountain. The trail crosses through some interesting hardwood stands on the opposite side of Long Mountain. In a dry year, later in the season, plan accordingly in the event that the brook is not flowing. 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. 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. You made it all the way to the bottom. The northern trailhead also access the AT and several other trails, including the route to Old Speck, which is popular with peakbaggers, causing this trailhead to be much more crowded and potentially full. Puzzle Mountain Loop … Take note that the western portion of the trail is accessed .6 miles south of this trailhead via a road walk on 26. 3. MODERATE 6.6 mi. 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