With all the great hiking in Maine, the Grafton Loop Trail (MATC trail map link) is a rarity for the state: a multi-day backpacking loop on the outskirts of the White Mountains. The eastern side of Route 26 is the longer (21.1 miles) and more difficult section.
The Appalachian Trail’s northbound ascent of Baldpate Mountain from Grafton Notch is a rocky, bruising trail in the summer that crushes the hopes of thru hikers looking for an easy stretch after the rigorous Mahoosuc Range. Add snow and this hike transforms into a backcountry winter wonderland where you’re more likely to encounter a moose than a fellow hiker.
At 281.4 miles, Maine accounts for only 13 percent of the 2,178.3-mile Appalachian Trail. Statistics, however, are for maps. Ask anyone who has completed the entire trail and they’ll likely tell you Maine is the toughest state of the 14 trail states.
We’re back. After a two-week hiatus we’re on the trail again, this time to section hike through to Katahdin. Don’t be fooled by Brad’s appearance, this is the before picture.…