|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Bald Mountain, Stowe Mountain, Sunday River Whitecap, ME|
||Grafton Loop Trail|
|Date of Hike:
||Sunday, April 30, 2023|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||Parked at Mahoosuc Land Trust parking area (Stewart Family Preserve). This large dirt lot is well signed, has a kiosk, no privy. It is plowed in winter. This lot serves as the trailhead for both Puzzle Mtn and the southern end of the Grafton Loop Trail. It is a 0.6 mile road walk to the southern trailhead of the western section of the Grafton Loop. You cannot park at the start of the Grafton Loop trail off ME 26. |
||Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Snow - Spring Snow, Snow/Ice - Small Patches |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||All water crossings achievable with exposed rocks. No rushing/dangerous crossings. Bear Brook is bridged with a snowmobile bridge. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||Some old blow downs (not worth removing), some new. I moved whatever I could with my two hands. There are several more, but the largest could be removed the an axe (1-2 of these). The rest could be dispatched off with patience and a hand saw. Great job with updated blazes! Much easier to navigate the open woods in lower elevations. I saw the timber that had been dropped to replace the disintegrated bog bridges on the ledges of Stowe. The ladders on Stowe are in perfect shape. No steps missing, no loose steps. Good work! I rebuilt carins that had been knocked over as well. |
||My dog did great. The ladders on Stowe are nice with wide steps that he was able to easily ascend and descend. Must leash dogs when near residences on the lower portion of the trail. |
|Lost and Found:
||Water bottle. Winter destroyed it. Recycled it. Found a deer antler!! Super stoked about that. ||
Out and back on the southern end of the western side of the Grafton Loop trail.
No snow at all until the summit of Stowe Mtn (2730 feet). Then the snow was very patchy, only knee deep in a few spots, and these were a short length. Not worth snowshoes as snow was not consistent. Yes, I postholed in some parts. But the snow won’t be here for long and this trail is hardly travelled outside of summer. In other words, nobody cares what you wear during this time of year here.
After crossing the summit of Stowe, I descended into the col which had substantially more snow. But again, it was not consistent nor was the section very long. I have a hard time justifying snowshoes as it takes more time to put them on/take them off than it is to simply plow though snow that oscillates between shallow and ankle/shin deep. The creek in the col is flowing nicely. Large animal scat in this area. Only prints seen were moose, but the scat was that of a bear(s). ?? I have no idea…
Once out of the col from Stowe, the trail was mostly clear of snow all the way to Stewart Brook Tentsite. Very small patches. Lots of running water on trail. Stowe’s ledges free from snow and ice.
After the junction with Stewart Brook Tentsite, the trail remains mostly clear of snow until you hit 3100 feet. Then snow starts up with much more consistency, but only ankle to shin depth (I’m 5’5”). It is also interspersed with several sections of open trail so I think, again, snowshoes would be more of a pain in the as# than just trudging through it.
Once atop the minor knob just southeast of the summit of Whitecap, the snow suddenly increases in volume and depth. Serious slog fest for 0.3 or so miles. Snow remains 1-2 feet deep all the way to the ledges. So, if you want to carry snowshoes to just use them on this short segment, by all means do so. I elected to give the “finger” to winter in Maine and stomped my way though that nonsense (I live here, I get tired of snow this time of year). The ledges were completely clear of snow and ice. Carins and scree walls visible. New bridges installed to help protect tender alpine vegetation. All bridges in excellent shape.
Normally the view from Sunday River Whitecap is phenomenal. Really quite breathtaking at times. But today’s incessant rain afforded views of… the inside of a cloud.
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.