Screw Auger Falls
Grafton Notch State Park is a remote gem in Southwestern Maine along the New Hampshire border. The only nearby reference point which comes to mind is the town of Bethel, where the Sunday River ski center is located. Grafton Notch is about 15 miles north of the town on Rt. 26 (better known as Bear River Road along this stretch). Along the way you pass through one other small town (Newry), though it is pretty much mountains and forests out here.
The park is situated at the end of the Mahoosuc Range and the Appalachian trail runs right through it. To offer some idea of the landscape, the park is next to the dreaded Mahoosuc Notch - known as the ‘toughest mile of the AT’.
My hiking buddies looked like giants among the scrub pine near the summit of Baldpate!
Fortunately the park offers a nice mix of trails, ranging from challenging to very easy.
Some sites are even road side, so no hiking required. At the top of this short list is Screw Auger Falls, which isn’t enormous, but one of Maine’s most attractive waterfalls as it twists down the glacially sculpted valley. Screw Auger Falls is just off of Rt. 26 as it winds through the park and if you are continuing north, you can also visit Mother Walker Falls, which is also scenic and cascades over several drops. There is also parking next to Moose Cave, a deep cut through which the Bear River runs. The cut is strewn with boulders and moss is everywhere.
Lunch at Table Rock...
You can walk along this narrow canyon for some ways and it is fascinating.
But on to the hikes! Old Speck is Maine’s third highest peak, and there are a number of ways to climb up. None is a killer, and you can comfortably get up and back in 6-8 hours regardless of which path you select. The views from the summit are quality and if it isn’t cloudy you can look into Mahoosuc Notch.
Scaling Baldpate Mountain requires the same effort as Old Speck, with the option of making a detour to the Tablerock, reputed to afford some of the most magnificent views around. I wouldn’t know though, as it was rainy and cloudy the day we visited --- but it still provided an excellent table for our lunch! A first rate park with plenty of options, and you will encounter quite a few folks hiking the AT if you take to the trails here (AT trails have white blazes).