|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Old Speck Mountain, Mahoosuc Arm, Fulling Mill Mountain - West Peak, Goose Eye Mountain, Mt. Carlo, Mt. Success, Wocket Ledge, Cascade Mountain, Mt. Hayes, ME|
||Old Speck Trail, Mahoosuc Trail, Goose Eye Trail|
|Date of Hike:
||Saturday, June 26, 2021|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||We shuttled two cars between the Old Speck parking lot and the lot off NH 16. Old Speck parking lot is in Grafton Notch State Park off ME 26. This large lot is paved, plowed in winter, and has two clean and stocked privies. For the NH end of the Mahoosuc Trail we parked in the small dirt lot off of NH 16 right next to one of the railroad bridge pylons. This lot could hold 6-7 cars. There is a kiosk and new trailhead sign. I’m not sure if it’s plowed in winter. |
||Dry Trail |
|Water Crossing Notes:
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||Thanks to the individual or group who put orange flagging tape on the Mahoosuc Trail (AT) between the unblazed segment after Trident Pass to where the blazes start again near the junction with Centennial Trail. So much easier to stay on trail with these markings! Many, many thanks to those who put up very nice directional signs and blazes to mark the way back to the NH parking area at the end of the Mahoosuc trail. Made navigating this roadwalk effortless. The Mahoosuc Notch blazes are very faded. |
||I would not recommend dogs for the Mahoosuc Notch. There are many areas they could fall and not be retrieved easily from. But, many AT thru hikers have brought their pups through here so it’s not impossible. |
||Surprisingly just the no-seems presented the biggest annoyance. Some mosquitos at Carlo Col shelter but lots of mosquito eaters there to help out too. It’s been very dry… |
|Lost and Found:
||Cell phone on Old Speck Trail. Given to owner at Old Speck summit. Owner couldn’t be bothered to meet us at the junction or come down off the tower to collect the phone. So my friend left the phone on the rocks below the tower for her when she came down. ||
Old Speck Trail > Old Speck Summit Spur (often considered part of the Grafton Loop) > Mahoosuc Trail (AT) > Carlo Col Trail (just the 0.2 to the shelter) > Goose Eye Trail > Mahoosuc Trail (AT) > Mahoosuc Trail > end.
Revered for its unique geological beauty, the Mahoosuc Range has many singular features that draw more than just AT thru hikers. Rugged, wild, and tough, this range is also home to the most challenging hiking terrain in Maine.
28 miles of the trail are on the AT. The trail also includes the infamous "hardest mile on the AT" that goes through Mahoosuc Notch. And yes, it most certainly is the hardest mile. It took us nearly two hours to do that one mile. In full packs. This traverse was the most difficult hike I have completed to date. The Guide was accurate in its statement about not underestimating the difficulty of the Mahoosuc Trail. A cursory look at the map does not elucidate the true amount and steep assents/descents of the “little” cols along the Mahoosuc Range.
Water is a real issue. It is incredibly dry. We were able to keep hydration systems filled, but you will have to use pools for the most part. We learned to fill up when we came across a source as there was no telling if the next source was still flowing. Bring solid water filters. All ponds had water. The bogs were dry (well, as dry as bogs get).
Old Speck Trail: this is part of the AT and is well blazed in white. Well travelled and defined footbed. Very well maintained. No water. Summit Spur is blazed in blue. All signs up and in good shape.
Mahoosuc Trail (AT): as part of the AT it is generally well blazed in white. Not all sections are as well blazed as others so don’t rely solely on the blazes. The most notable blazing differences were seen after crossing the NH state line. I guess the blazes took a vacation through here? In any case, the footbed is well defined and simple to follow. As mentioned above, newer orange flagging tape really helps to mark the way between Trident Col and the junction with Centennial Trail. I had gotten off trail in this area before so the flagging tape was most welcome through this poorly blazed area. Fill up water bottles when you can! See note above.
Carlo Col Trail: well blazed in blue, at least to the shelter. Shelter sign up, in good shape.
Camping note: we camped at Carlo Col shelter. Surprisingly, we had the site all to ourselves. There is a lovely shelter, bear box, privy, tent platforms for both individuals and groups. $10 - $15 donations asked. Water source is abysmal, but enough to get a bottle in a pool or two. The sediment will likely clog some filters.
After camping we continued on the Mahoosuc where we were treated to the “Breakfast Boulder Scramble.” Felt like the mountains were handing me a piece of humble pie as we squeezed, pulled, and shimmied our way up and out of Carlo Col. After that scramble I promised the range I would not forget my inferority as a human being ever again.
Goose Eye Trail: we took the 0.1 miles to the summit of West Peak. I saw the remnants of a couple of blue blazes. The footbed is simple to follow. I have also negotiated this small segment in very poor visibility without issue before.
Mahoosuc Trail: this section of trail leaves the AT at the junction with Centennial Trail. It is VERY well blazed in blue with supplemental carins on the ledges. This is a beautiful section of trail. It’s a destination in its own right. The footbed is less travelled than the AT, however, it is simple to follow. I did not check out Poppy Spring, I don’t know if it’s flowing. As mentioned above the roadwalk between the end of this section and the parking area off NH 16 has new signs and blazes. There is no more guesswork (or Guide following) to find your way from one point to the next. Really, really well done!! This roadwalk became a quick walk out of the woods back to the car. I envision easy winter access point for Mount Hayes and Cascade Mountain…
Plus sides: not that many crazy people, I mean hikers, out. Some thru hikers, one large group of Outward Bound youngsters, and one other small backpacking group were all we saw. We had the entire Mahoosuc Notch to ourselves. We also had the entire Carlo Col shelter & site all to ourselves. Huh. What? Like this trail is hard? 😜
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.