|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Mahoosuc Arm, Old Speck Mountain, ME|
||Notch Trail, Mahoosuc Trail, May Cutoff, Speck Pond Trail, road walk |
|Date of Hike:
||Saturday, July 25, 2020|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||I didn’t realize this the first time I hiked it but the parking area as described in the guidebook is no longer because the second bridge is damaged and a car could not get over it. So instead of parking just after this second bridge you park on the left just before it. Just a small grassy are for a few conscientiously parked cars. There’s also room for a couple before the first bridge. Only one other car when I arrived at 10:15am. Just the same car there when I returned around 7:45pm. Shelter Brook Road to the trailhead is very narrow so I recommend going very slowly as to avoid the unlikely event of another car coming toward you (which would inevitably lead to one of you backing up a LONG ways) but is in fine shape and much less bumpy than Success Pond Road. Success Pond Road has had a bit of work done to it recently around some culverts and such which has made for some very brief nicer sections of road. These newer sections are MUCH smoother however are a bit soft and easy to lose traction in and will be prone to mud for a bit so don’t take it fast. Unfortunately, the work was done at various points multiple miles into the road and not toward the beginning where the road is at its worst. Still a plethora of rocks of varying sizes ready to destroy your tires 🙃 Personally I wouldn’t want to do this in a low clearance vehicle although I’ve seen them on the road before going very slowly. Be kind and move over for trucks which are able to safely go faster than smaller cars on the road. |
||Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||The crossings of Shelter Brook on Notch Trail were all your standard rock hop. I honestly don’t recall the crossings of Sucker Brook on Speck Pond Trail...it was a very long day and my brain must’ve turned off by that point 😂 I’m sure I would’ve remembered had I gotten my feet wet though so they must’ve been rock hoppable easily enough. The one crossing that was surprisingly difficult was of the outlet of Speck Pond. Certainly not dangerous but challenging if you don’t like wet feet (like myself). A surprising amount of water seemed to be gushing out of it (although I hadn’t been there before it appeared that water was higher there than usual; not sure why as water wasn’t very high yesterday and Sucker Brook wasn’t memorable). Lots of sticks and such had been placed there almost like a beaver dam so I used those to cross. Although I wasn’t certain of their stability I managed to get across without wet feet. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||Notch Trail and Speck Pond Trail were blazed in blue as they connect to the AT. Notch Trail isn’t blazed until at least a few tenths of a mile in possibly more like a half mile plus. From there, it’s blazed pretty regularly though. Not terribly well used but not hard to follow. Speck Pond Trail’s blazing was similar. Both looked fresh enough. Speck Pond Trail is overgrown in some spots and could definitely be brushed back in these places. The Mahoosuc Trail is blazed in white as it’s part of the AT. The blazing isn’t very frequent. In the notch, in addition to the occasional white blaze, there was what appeared to be a very, very faded yellow blaze usually in the form of arrows or plus signs around cave scrambles or other tricky spots to grab your attention. Sometimes these old blazes and the newer white blazes for the AT contradicted each other as to which way to go. A bit frustrating as a redliner. All in all the bog bridges on this part of the Mahoosuc Trail weren’t in terrible shape although many do need replaced. |
||This hike so not appropriate for dogs. Mahoosuc Notch is not safe for them. It would be torture for even the vast majority of hiking dogs. Don’t bring them. Speck Pond Trail and Mahoosuc Trail to Old Speck would be doable for very fit hiking dogs. |
||I recommend bug spray. Not too many black flies (just a few on the road walk back) but mosquitos were still out. They’re always worst on the road walk back to my car... |
|Lost and Found:
||Picked up some small pieces of trash ||
||Finally finished redlining the Mahoosuc Trail with a trip through Mahoosuc Notch. Notch Trail —> Mahoosuc Trail to Old Speck including an out-and-back along May Cutoff —> Mahoosuc Trail back to Speck Pond —> down Speck Pond Trail|
—> road walk.
The hike was about 14.4mi with a little over 4000ft gain I believe including the road walk which was 1.9mi. I wasn’t planning on doing the notch solo so was a bit scared to but it was fine. I tend not to enjoy boulder hopping (not a big fan of Ice Gulch Trail, the approach to King Ravine, the Subway, etc) but I didn’t find the notch to be all that difficult and dare I say I even found it fun! Not something to take a beginner on and certainly challenging and VERY slow going but only a couple times that were a little scary. I suppose a lot of practice these past few years helped too ;)
The hike up to Mahoosuc Arm was steep but not too bad in my opinion. The hike up to the ridge of Old Speck was similar but a bit easier. Speck Pond Trail was a bitch for awhile as if ascended steeply up from the pond then descended steeply for a time over lots of wet, mossy rock but got better. I didn’t find it hard to follow although it was very overgrown in a spot or two (was actually a good way into the trail in its upper half to two thirds I’d say). It was nice to be on Notch Trail again as well which I find quite pleasant and serves to be a good warm up although it would also make for a particularly nice descent. I believe there’s some falcons nesting somewhere along it as well. I think I heard them this time around and saw what I believe to be one last time I was on it.
The trails were mostly dry with the inevitable muddy spots where bog bridges have sunken under and of course some wet ledge and rock.
Not including the pond, I saw about a dozen people out. One section hiker in the notch, a pair in the notch doing a Mahoosuc traverse, a thru-hiker from 2012 who’s finishing up part of the trail he missed coming up Mahoosuc Arm, a father-daughter doing a traverse of the Mahoosucs and Presidentials at the jct with May Cutoff on Mahoosuc Trail, a thru hiker shortly thereafter, a father and son staying at the pond and heading up to Old Speck, and a pair of day hikers at the summit of Old Speck as well as a pair doing the Grafton Notch Loop. I stopped and had some very nice conversation with several of these people :) Surprised not to see many day hikers though! Although the trails weren’t busy the campsite at Speck Pond seemed very busy. There was also one person out kayaking around the pond when I first arrived around 3:15pm. Beautiful spot.
||Liam Cooney |
Disclaimer: Reports are not verified - conditions may vary. Use at own risk. Always be prepared when hiking. Observe all signs. Trail conditions reports are not substitutes for weather reports or common sense.