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Grafton Notch Trail

HARD 10 reviews
#8 of 11 trails in

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.

Distance: 33.5 miles Elevation Gain: 11,138 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash


nature trips

bird watching




wild flowers


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 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.

3 months ago

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.

private property
3 months ago

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!

Wed Jul 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

Thu Oct 19 2017

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

Sun Jan 31 2016

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.

Mon Aug 10 2015

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

Thu Mar 06 2014

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

Fri Jan 10 2014

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

Tue Jun 12 2012

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

Wed Jul 19 2017