Grafton Notch Trail is a 33.5 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Newry, Maine that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length33.5 miElevation gain11,138 ftRoute typeLoop
Dogs on leashHikingNature tripsBird watchingForestRiverViewsWildflowersWildlife
Description
Waypoints (15)

The Grafton Notch/Mahoosuc area encompasses some of Maine’s most spectacular mountain terrain. It has become an increasingly popular destination for hikers and backpackers wishing to hike a loop. It is often used by camp and school groups. The trail is a rugged, remote backcountry trail, much of it on private land. The only camping is at four designated campsites on the eastern section and four on the western section. Water is available at each campsite. From the Grafton Loop Trailhead, the closest campsite on the eastern section is 5 miles from the road, on the other side of 3,000-foot Puzzle Mountain. Please prepare accordingly. Directions to Grafton Loop Trail trailhead: The southern trailhead is located just north of where Eddy Road meets Route 26 in Newry, Maine. From the junction of Route 2 and Route 26, travel North on Route 26 (towards Grafton Notch State Park) 4.7 miles and turn right into a gravel parking area. The trail leaves from the end of this parking area at the sign. Trail directions from the GLT trailhead: Eastern Section to AT parking lot in Grafton Notch: The trail leaves Route 26 and continues 17.1 miles to the summit of East Baldpate where it intersects with the Appalachian Trail. It is 4 miles from there, south on the AT back to Route 26 and the large trailhead parking lot in Grafton Notch State Park. Western Section, to AT parking lot in Grafton Notch The western section of the Trail has been open for use since 2003. It may be accessed from the Grafton Loop trailhead on Rt. 26 by walking south on Route 26 for .5 miles to the trail sign on the road. From here, it heads across a field to a snowmobile bridge across the Bear River. The trail then follows a series of minor peaks before traversing Sunday River Whitecap. Unique trail structures were designed and built on Sunday River Whitecap to protect fragile plants unique to the area. After Sunday River Whitecap, the trail skirts the slide on Slide Mountain, descends slightly into the upper Bull Branch (of the Sunday River) valley, and finally climbs the southern flank of Old Speck to reconnect with the AT. In 2011, a new 1.8-mile side trail off the GLT was opened. The Woodsum Spur traverses the open ledges around the summit of Puzzle before returning to the GLT. If you are interested in helping to maintain the GLT, please contact MATC Baldpate District Overseer Tom Gorrill at woodencanoeboy@gmail.com or (207) 657-4249; or Kim Marion, AMC North Country Volunteer Coordinator at 603-466-2721 X192. 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 Bound School, several timber management companies, Sunday River Ski Resort, and other private landowners. Funding was provided by several private donors and foundations, as well as by the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund and federal Recreational Trails Program funding. This trail is partially within the 9,993-acre Mahoosuc Ecological Reserve, which, like all Maine State Ecological Reserves, is specifically set aside to protect and monitor natural ecosystems. More information about the reserve can be found at Maine Natural Areas Program’s Ecoreserve Fact Sheet for Mahoosuc Unit. The section of trail over Puzzle Mountain is mostly on land owned by the Mahoosuc Land Trust and permanently protected from development.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (29)
Photos (36)
Recordings (29)
Completed (88)
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Clayton Becker
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 5, 2020
Hiking

good decline to start difficult but doable climb to white cap gentle climb down to Sargent Brooke camp

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Ashley Hofflin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 19, 2020
BackpackingPrivate property

We hiked just the western portion of the loop on 9/18-20/2020 as our first ever backpacking trip (though we've put some 10-15 mile day hikes in our books this summer). We would absolutely do it again, hopefully doing the full loop next year. We found the AT section to be the most strenuous, the view from Sunday River Whitecap to be the best, and the summit approach for Old Speck to be our favorite stretch. Friday night we parked at the southern parking lot 985 Maine 26, Newry, ME 04261 Near intersection of Rt 26 and Eddy Rd and hiked the 0.5ish mile south from parking lot to the Grafton Loop Trailhead (44.530831,-70.825252) Parking is not allowed here at this trailhead, hence the road hike. We camped Friday night at the Bald Mountain Campsite (2 miles from Rt 26) which had 2 wooden tent platforms, designated kitchen area with bear box, and composting outhouse. It felt a bit like glamping, which we enjoyed given our newbie status. The water source is a brook, which was pretty dried up, but we were able to walk up the creek bed and find a fairly deep and clear pool for our bottles/dinner. Saturday was a beautiful hike up Bald and Stowe mountains; nothing too steep and the AMC has done some great additions of planks and stairs in the most steep areas. We had lunch at the Sargent Brook campsite, which didn't have any water source we could find. We then went up and over the Sunday River Whitecap, which was the only section above the tree line. It had absolutely STUNNING views and I would suggest it to anyone hiking the loop as a point to enjoy. The only issue for us was we didn't encounter any water between the base of Stowe Mountain and the Slide Mountain campsite. We camped Saturday night at the Bull Run Campsite (2 miles south of Old Speck Mountain), which had all the same amenities as the Bald Mountain campsite. There's a very pretty brook with a little waterfall that you cross to get to the campsite from the trail. We had both campsites to ourselves each night, but crossed paths with a few other hikers and groups on both Saturday and Sunday. Our nights were cold, in the 30F's, but reasonable with the gear we had. Sunday's summiting of Old Speck was my favorite part of the hike; super gentle inclines through some beautiful forests. We actually arrived at the summit by 'accident'; we heard some voices, turned a corner, and were there! The most strenuous hiking we had was the decent down the AT to the parking lot; those are long four miles with packs when you're a newbie.

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Madelyn Adams
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 18, 2020
BackpackingOver grown

Did the loop clockwise in 4 days, 3 nights. Started at the south end and hiked 10.2 miles to Slide Mtn campground for the first night. Lots of PUDS but great view from Sunday River Whitecap. Campground had a running stream and 3 sites with 1 bear box. Next day was around 14 miles to Lane Campground. Spectacular views from Old Speck and Baldpate peaks, though getting down Old Speck and up the last .5 of Baldpate were probably the toughest bits of the whole loop. Highly recommend Lane campground, it has a waterfall and small pools to take a dip (chilly but soothing). Next day was 8.3 across Long and up Puzzle (very steep) to Stewart campsite for the final night. Stream dried up at Stewart so make sure to fill up at the stream at the base of Puzzle. Final day was 4.9 back to the car! Lovely loop, campsites were full every night, but everyone always got a spot. AT parts of the trail are much better maintained than the other parts which are pretty overgrown. We saw a moose, an owl, plenty of toads, and some beautiful birds! Highly recommend.

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Alexis C
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 14, 2020
BackpackingBlowdownOver grown

Completed over 3 days 08/14-16 starting east. The trail was clearly not kept up this year, very overgrown particularly between Old Speck summit and slide campgrounds. Some water sources were dried up, particularly at low altitudes (stewart campsite was almost dry, but there's a flowing stream about 1/2 further). All that being said, we had a great 3 days with particularly beautiful views white cap. Tough elevation but worth it in the end!

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Nichole Cort
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 4, 2020
Hiking

Trail was marked, including signs for upcoming camp sites. In some areas the trail was over grown and we did find a few blow downs. Currently there seems to be plenty of water. Fun hike

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Josh Connell
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 11, 2020
HikingBlowdownBugsFloodedOver grown

All of the streams were full and the trail had ankle deep water. Bear box at Slide was left open and full of water. Privys were functional and the campsites are solid. The loop sections that are not frequented by day hikers are significantly overgrown. Occasional problems finding a trail marker, but overall well marked. Some blowdowns. Not many other hikers on the loop, lots of day hikers near trailheads on 26. Phenomenal views scattered throughout, but mostly in the woods.

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Ron Tebbetts
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 19, 2020
HikingBlowdownBugsPrivate property

6/17-19/20 Started at the Puzzle Mtn parking lot and did the east loop first. Trail was fine to Puzzle but lots of blowdowns between Puzzle and Baldpate. Four campsites between Puzzle and Baldpate. The first had no water, the second was marginal and the last two had adequate water.. The west loop from 26 up to Old Spec's fire tower was fine. Had a little water on the way up. There is a campsite (Bull Run) 1.9 miles from Old Spec with water and another campsite (Slide) 2.1 miles further with marginal water. No additional water until you get to the other side of Bald Mtn. Sargent Brook Campsite was dry. Was a hot buggy trip. Black flies were most prevalent on the upper slopes. Campsites were in fair shape with Privy's. Slide Campground had a bear box. I had the Grafton Trail to myself. Most people were on the AT. Trail was not well blazed and in the open hardwood sections, overgrown. You really had to watch your feet to stay on the trail. Worst part of the trail was the 0.6 miles of road you have to walk to return back to the parking lot. Oh and it was HOT!.

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Abigail Cloutier
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMay 24, 2020
BackpackingSnow
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ben cilley
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarOctober 12, 2019
Hiking

In the woods nearly the whole trip. View from Sunday River White Cap was phenomenal! Trail poorly marked. Super very unfriendly trail abutters across from western loop trailhead... campsites were clean not busy. Water abundantly available in October.

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Joshua Douin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 3, 2019
HikingBlowdownMuddyPrivate propertyRocky

This loop was awesome, absolutely would recommend! We did it in 3 days but have talked to folks that have done it in 2-4 days. Water is pretty abundant throughout, good mix of terrains, and the views are fantastic!

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Richard Bean
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 25, 2018

This trail is not for the faint hearted as I have done it four times. Countless PUDS but the views are spectacular. Probably best to hike with a companion Good cell phone reception through out to keep contact with family and friends

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Jess Komulainen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 19, 2017

We only hiked to Puzzle Mountain, but the trail and views were amazing!

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Bill Watson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJanuary 31, 2016
Hiking

Did this trail in July 2002, included the AT and the Eyebrow Trail. We first stopped at Screw Auger Falls, which was a nice cascade of waterfalls with a gorge at the bottom resembling an auger bit hole crafted by rushing water over the years. We next entered the “notch,” the mountain pass or gap, and parked in the parking lot right in the crux of the notch and on the AT. There were several AT through-hikers. We took the climb to the Eyebrow 2.1M RT on Eyebrow Trail Loop (Orange blazes off white-blazed AT), and descended via the white blazed AT on our return. The hike was very steep and challenging, seemed much longer than we thought, had lots of rocks and slippery tree roots, but was cool and quiet. A low cloud cover hampered the views of the mountainside. We rested at the top, had a brief snack, and took the AT back down. Challenging and rewarding short hike. After this one, we went across the road and hiked to Table Rock. Next time will complete Old Speck.

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Kyle Graffam
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 10, 2015
Hiking

A rugged hike but worth it when you see the 360 degree views from the tower!

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Christopher Davidson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMarch 6, 2014
Hiking

I helped build the trails here in 1994! Still love the hike

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Sebastian Varas
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJanuary 10, 2014
Hiking

Great hike, up the hill for the first couple miles, demanding but fun. Indeed, water and snack a must!

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Jason Staraitis
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJune 12, 2012
Hiking
First to Review

Fun hike. Great views on puzzle mountain. First five miles are up hill. Bring water and a snack.

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Courtney Bishop
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 10, 2020
Hiking
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KERSTIN VOSS
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 26, 2020
Hiking
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Charles Hall
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 5, 2020
Hiking
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Karla Black
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 4, 2020
Hiking
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