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 River Valley. After living in Maine for eight years, the hike easily ranks as one of my favorite hikes in the state. I experienced them on East Baldpate and just below Old Speck. Though the trail is a long loop, there are several options for hiking trips here. The trail is a rugged, remote backcountry trail, and much of it is on private land. This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. All photos are from the author with the exception of the waterfall, jay, and banner, which were taken by Josh Rosenthal. Close to the Sunday River ski area in western Maine near the New Hampshire border, it generally follows the mountain ridge lines that surround Grafton Notch and the Bear River Valley, passing over the summits of Old Speck, the Baldpates, and Sunday River White Cap. PLAN YOUR Summer Adventures! The eastern half of the Grafton Loop was completed and opened to the public in June 2003. Mission: build a backpacking loop touring the backcountry's most pristine reaches, and protect it from rampant home development. Thanks so much for your awesome trip report. 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. Take note that the western portion of the trail is accessed .6 miles south of this trailhead via a road walk on 26. We frequently had to smack them off our tents through the night. Grafton Loop Trail (38 miles, 3 or more days, chal-lenging), a high-elevation, backcountry trail with seven primitive campsites, connects a series of nine scenic peaks, including Old Speck, Sunday River Whitecap, Puzzle Mountain, and East and West Baldpate. The route 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. In the quieter Grafton Loop Trail, we rely on visitors themselves, and AMC only checks on … 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. Fortunately, there are eight campsites in addition to the lean-to, so finding an appropriate spot to camp isn’t an issue. 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. • Grafton Loop Trail (38 miles, 3 or more days, chal-lenging), a high-elevation, backcountry trail with seven primitive campsites, connects a series of nine scenic peaks, including Old Speck, Sunday River Whitecap, Puzzle Mountain, and East and West Baldpate. Grafton Loop Trail Campsites. Endless peaks can be seen in every direction. Day 2: 8.5 mi The Grafton Loop Path presents a terrific style of backpacking in Maine’s rugged mountains. Slide Mt Campsite to Bull Run Campsite 1.0 mi The trail crosses lengthy stretches of open rock marked with cairns. For the AMC, this was the first major trail constructed by the club since the building of the Centennial Trail in the Mahoosucs in 1976. The Grafton Loop Trail, in the Mahoosucs Range of Western Maine, is one of the newest major trails to be built in New England. Traversing the Bear River, Sunday River-Whitecap and Miles Notch, this part of the trail ends on the summit of Old Speck Mountain at its junction with the Mahoosuc Trail/AT. The closest campsite from the road is 5 miles in, on the other side of 3,000-foot Puzzle Mountain. The area averages around 40 inches of rain a year and wet weather isn’t uncommon. Mud and biting insects could cause problems early in the season. The others are maintained by the Maine ATC. Lots of good info in here. campsite: site with both shelter/lean-to and tent platforms or pads in designated area. tentsite: site with just tent platforms or pads in designated area and no shelter/lean-to. The coalition worked with private landholders to gain right-of-way via temporary access, easement, or outright purchase. Whether new to backpacking or a seasoned veteran, the Grafton Loop Trail offers something for everyone. 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. I don’t recall a bypass for the ladder below Baldpate. Snow patches can linger in shaded areas well into May during snowier years. Starting at the southern end will also begin and end your trip near the low point of the loop. 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 2008 trip was one of our classic adventures, and I wrote about it a the time. 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. Appalachian Trail, Grafton Loop Trail, Woodsum Spur Trail, Lane Campsite Spur, Knoll Campsite Spur, Town Corner Campsite Spur, bushwhacks, Stewart Campsite Spur: Date of Hike: Thursday, September 17, 2020: ... With all the out and backs to campsites and viewpoints we did 17.1 miles. of them. 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.) While I never saw a bear in this area, they are not uncommon. 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. The southern trailhead sees less traffic and is less likely to fill up during crowded periods. 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