Hike, picnic, or just take in the awesome splendor of thousands of unspoiled acres of wilderness at Grafton Notch State Park. This popular nature destination includes miles of hiking trails, gorgeous waterfalls, picnic spots, and more. All just 15 minutes drive from GraceNote Inn & Spa.
Maine is home to some of the most spectacular natural wonders and stunning wild vistas our country has to offer, with nearby Grafton Notch serving as an excellent example.
Grafton Notch lies between Old Speck Mountain and Baldpate Mountain in the Mahoosuc Range, “notch” being another name for a mountain pass. The 3,000 acre State Park includes the land along the bottom of the notch, extending southwest to the summit of Old Speck Mountain, and northeast to the lowest slopes of Baldpate Mountain.
Both the Appalachian Trail and the Maine Birding Trail pass through the park, with a number of other, popular attractions nearby. Whether you’re looking for a strenuous hike or a day of easy sightseeing, Grafton Notch is an excellent choice.
Visting Grafton Notch State Park
Grafton Notch State Park is located on Route 26, between Newry and Upton, ME at 1941 Bear River Road in Newry, ME. This is less than 15 scenic miles from our Bethel, ME bed and breakfast, GraceNote Inn & Spa. Visitors to the park will find a variety of natural attractions and popular trails to explore.
Some of the most popular trails include Table Rock Trail, Eyebrow Trail, Old Speck Mountain Trail, and the mighty Grafton Loop. All lead to absolutely stunning views but also steep elevation gains, and are considered challenging. The Grafton Loop Trail, in particular, is an epic hike of about 39 miles, with over 11,000 feet of elevation gain. Many only hike short sections of the trail, rather than commit to a multi-day backpacking trip.
Not all the park’s trails are as strenuous. In fact, one of the most popular, Screw Auger Falls, is just a short walk from the road, down a stream. Truly beautiful, the 23 foot cascade falls to the water-carved rocks below. The area includes picnic tables with grills, and folks love to swim or wade in the pool below the falls. The falls are particularly gorgeous in autumn.
Step Falls offers another short hike. 1 mile, round-trip to a series of cascades, pools, and natural slides that make a perfect spot for swimming and sunbathing. Moose Cave offers another, easy hike right off route 26. The short .3 mile loop trail leads to a deep gorge with a small cave. A quick but worthy stop.
Those who prefer a bit less effort in their sightseeing will enjoy cruising the Grafton Notch Scenic Byway. The Byway is a rural, two-lane road bordered by small farms, dense woods, and the deep beauty of the State Park.
Birdwatchers and wildlife fans will thrill to the variety of creatures that make the notch their home. Peregrine falcon, a wide variety of songbirds, deer, bear, fox, weasels, squirrels, and more. Area streams are known for their wily brook trout.
More Attractions Nearby
It would be easy to make a full day out of your visit to Grafton Notch, if you wanted. Several other interesting attractions are located along Route 26 on the way to the Park.
Dunn Falls, for example, are just north of Grafton Notch. The stop offers a moderately challenging, 2-mile hike to a series of pretty little falls. Lake Umbagog is also just a short drive north of the park. It’s located on the other side of Upton, ME and well worth exploring. There is a small marina with a public boat launch, as well as places to swim, canoe, and hike.
Grafton Notch State Park is open 9am to sunset daily, May 15th to October 15th, for a small fee. Off-season visitors are allowed to visit the park during the same hours but facilities will be closed.
The best time to see the waterfalls is in late spring, when snowmelt swells the rivers, making them most impressive. Hiking is best in the warmer months, and who can resist the spectacular fall foliage?
Come winter, the notch is a popular destination for snowshoers, cross-country skiers, and snowmobilers who enjoy the ungroomed trails.
Parking, scenic pull-outs, picnic tables, and grills can be found throughout the park. Visit the park website for more information.
Spend the day exploring all the natural wonders of Grafton Notch State Park, then head back to the comforts of your room at GraceNote Inn & Spa. Perfect!