We, (Willow and DD, of course!) were in desperate need of an adventure and fresh air, so we packed a bag, made the perfect trail picnic and headed southwest towards Grafton Notch State Park, located in Newry, Maine.
Forgetting about the time change we ended up getting a late start, considering the sun sets at 4 pm this time of year.
Grafton Notch State park is always a treat, especially when winter has started to touch the landscape. Our original plan was to hike the Baldpate’s, but with our late start and the unsettled weather (rain and sleet) we decided to hike to Table Rock and spend some time at Screw Auger Falls. The mountains will always be there, so we will return another day for these two peaks. (This is our mantra!)
The trail to Table Rock winds along the edge of the mountain then begins to climb steeply among boulders and steep switchbacks. There are many caves and erratics on this trail, which always makes for an interesting hike. The Appalachian Trail to Table Rock is much easier and gradual, which would make it a better route for dogs and those with small children.
We came upon a scenic cutout where you could see the road below and gave us a small glimpse of the vistas from Table Rock. Look for the spray painted “DROP OFF” sign to show you the way and BE CAREFUL. It truly does drop right off!!
Table Rock offers spectacular views of Grafton Notch and Old Speck. Old Speck was covered with rime ice and sleet was falling sporadically. It’s a great place to stop for a snack and to take in the views. We met a few folks on the trail; including a fellow Instagrammer who we later connected with online. (Don’t forget to follow us on IG and Facebook, so you don’t miss any tips or photos! LoveMaineAdventures for both and be sure to share your Maine adventure photos with us by using #LoveMaineAdventures.)
The trail back was full of little surprises, ladders, and rungs. You can see the rime in some of the photos below, as well as a little bit of lingering fall foliage. It’s been an awesome fall in Maine with warm temps and lots of vibrant foliage.
After we got back to the trailhead, we decided to head down to Screw Auger Falls and check them out since DD had never been. Having lunch by a waterfall is definitely one of our favorite things to do! Especially when there’s no one else around, which is a benefit of hiking in cold weather and your food stays cold, too!
Date/start & finish time: November 6, 2016 – 9:30 am – 12:30 pm.
Trail Route: Table Rock Trail, Appalachian Trail
Parking Area: Off Route 26. You will need to cross the road to get to the trailhead. Look for the big “AT” wooden structure pictured below.
Gear: Smartwool, EMS Empress Soft Shell Pants, Marmot, Ten Tree, Hydeaway bottle, LL Bean backpack, Camelbak Chute bottles, Patagonia hat, many items from our Cairn package (referral link!) Kathoola Microspikes,
Total miles round trip: 2.4 miles
Difficulty: We rate this trail easy to moderate. Lots of gain in the first mile (give or take) can cause a bit of difficulty.
References and more info: Hiking Baldpate and Table Rock
From Maine Trailfinder – “Table Rock Loop Trail” (2.4 miles round trip, moderate-advanced): The Table Rock Loop Trail is a moderate hike compared to the other hikes in the park. Table Rock is 900 feet above the trailhead and offers fantastic views of Old Speck Mountain, the Eyebrow, and Grafton Notch. From the parking area cross ME Route 26 and follow the white-blazed Appalachian Trail northbound. After 0.1 miles, you can choose between the steep, boulder-strewn, orange-blazed Table Rock Trail (not appropriate for pets or young children) or continue on the moderately steep AT to the next trail junction. After approximately one mile, the blue-blazed Table Rock trail begins, offering an easier hike for less experienced hikers. Be careful at the summit, there is a steep drop-off where the ledge ends and no barriers are in place”.
Have you done this trail? Add your tips and experience below!
Sending Love and Light from Maine –
DD and Willow