Nestled in a quiet part of Maine and away from the bustle of the coast, Grafton Notch State Park and the surrounding area offer beautiful hikes, waterfalls, lakes, and more.
The best Grafton Notch hikes explore the mountains and center around the Appalachian Trail that runs through the area. We recently spent a few days exploring Grafton Notch and have come through for several day trips and to enjoy the wooden hills, the viewpoints, and the many waterfalls in the area.
In addition to the 9 best hikes you can also find some general informatino to help you plan your visit including a few suggestions of the best places to stay while you explore the nearby Grafton Notch hikes – we camped at Grafton Notch Campground and loved being close to all the sites.
You can read about our 9 favorite spots to visit below, but make sure you check out Screw Auger Falls, Step Falls, and Table Rock – these were out favorite Grafton Notch Hikes!
Overview of Grafton Notch State Park Hiking and Sites
The beautiful Grafton Notch State Park is positioned in the Mahoosic Mountain Range of Maine and offers excellent opportunities for hiking and exploring waterfalls. The Mahoosic Public Lands border the state park and offer protection to many native species and a large wilderness area that remains under protection.
Things to Know About the Grafton Notch Area
When is the best time to visit Grafton Notch?
The best time to visit Grafton Notch State Park is from May-Oct. During this time of year, the temperatures are warm to hot and the trails are easier to hike. You may experience some bugs and mud in May. The fall is an excellent time to visit when the fall colors are out.
Many of the hiking trails listed below are also excellent to hike in the winter, but you should expect snow and ice and plan accordingly. Microspikes are a must if you are hiking in the winter and several of the hiking trails (like the Eyebrow and Table Rock) are steep and can be challenging in the winter.
Where to Stay in Grafton Notch?
Grafton Notch State Park is fairly remote, but there are still a few areas nearby to camp or stay for the night.
On our most recent visit, we stayed at Grafton Notch Campground. This is a lovely small campground with just 15 sites. Mo (and her dog Rusty) will make you feel completely at home! There is also a small stream that flows through the back of the campsite, incredibly clean bathrooms, and a common area with some lawn games.
Another nearby campsite is Lone Mountain Riverfront Campground. This campground also has a few options if you don’t want to pitch a tent including a cabin.
If you don’t want to camp, Newry is just south of most of the Grafton Notch hikes and has a few options of places to stay. Check out:
Riverbend – an apartment
Deer Run – a house that is great for a large group
How Long do you Need in Grafton Notch State Park?
If you are hoping to do a few of the longer hikes and visit some of the waterfalls, 2 nights and 2 full days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Grafton Notch State Park.
How far away is Grafton Notch State Park?
Grafton Notch is a short drive from several popular areas but is also far enough away that it gets far fewer visitors compared to the Maine coast or the White Mountains of NH. Here are a few common driving distances.
- Portsmouth NH to Grafton Notch State Park: 2.5 hours
- Portland ME to Grafton Notch State Park: 1.5 hours
- North Conway, NH to Grafton Notch State Park Maine: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Boston, MA to Grafton Notch State Park: 3 hours 30 minutes
Grafton Notch State Park Map
Use this map to click on some of our favorite places to visit around Grafton Notch State Park. You can use the map to create your own driving route to see the best Grafton Notch hikes and waterfalls.
9 Best Grafton Notch Hikes, Waterfalls, and Sites
Table Rock Hike
The 2.2-mile hike to Table Rock rewards you with incredible views out across the valley and over to Old Speck. The hike is surprisingly steep and challenging when done as a loop, but also exciting as you climb a steep trail up over boulders. The trail has several sets of ladder rungs over rocky areas but overall is not technically challenging.
You can also hike the trail as an out and back on the Appalachian Trail. This makes it a much easier hike but still ascends about 900 feet to Table Rock. From Table Rock, there is an excellent view in 3 different directions.
After visiting Table Rock, consider continuing on to Baldpate Mountain.
Read more about Hiking to Table Rock.
Eyebrow Trail Hike
The Eyebrow Trail goes partway up Old Speck Mountain and crosses a rock ledge with excellent views out over the valley. This steep trail gains just over 1,000 feet in a short distance. The total hike is 2.7 miles and is considered challenging – you will find several areas with cables to help with the climbing.
Hike Old Speck Mountain
The 4th tallest mountain in the state of Maine. The hike is 7.4-mile round trip and includes roughly 2,900 feet of elevation gain. There is a fire tower at the top of the mountain and beautiful views on the way up as well as at the top. This is a generally gradual trail with a few steep sections on the way up and a well-marked trail.
Grafton Loop Trail
This long and challenging route is an epic hike in Grafton Notch. The trail is about 39 miles and has over 11,000 feet of elevation gain. Due to the length of this trail, it is usually done as a backpack, or you can select to do a small portion of the hike as it crosses route 26 twice. One of the more popular places to hop on the trail is to hike up to Puzzle Mountain, or Old Speck Mountain.
There are several campsites and the trail passes over 9 summits.
Check out more about hiking the Grafton Notch Loop Trail.
Screw Auger Falls
A truly beautiful waterfall, Screw Auger Falls has a lovely cascade of water falling 23 feet, but the really impressive part of the falls are the rocks below the falls. Carved from years of water eroding the rock, the rocks create almost a tunnel. From the road it is a short walk to the water, but make sure to walk down the stream to see the best part of the falls. You can also scramble down below the falls to swim or wade in the water..
There are several picnic tables in the area for a picnic as well.
Step Falls is a short hike up to a series of waterfalls, pools, and natural slides. The area is perfect for swimming and sunbathing in the summer and is beautiful in the fall. We ended 2 of our days here after other hikes and found the area relaxing and also a bit crowded with other folks trying to cool off.
The trail to hike into the falls is 1-mile round trip and is generally easy with just some small roots and rocks and very little elevation. This series of cascades and pools is truly lovely and worth a visit.
Moose Cave is another stop right off route 26. The trail is a short loop just 0.3 miles in length. The cave descends very slightly into a gorge with a small cave where a moose once fell into. The cave is interesting, but the real highlight is the deep and narrow gorge. It is definitely worth a short visit and takes just 15 minutes to explore.
Drive up to Lake Umbagog
Just north of Grafton Notch State Park, Lake Umbagog is a short drive and worth exploring. Drive north on route 26 through Upton and you will come to the lake. There is a small marina, and we stopped at the boat launch for a picnic lunch. There are also places to swim, camp, canoe, and hike in the area.
Located just north of Grafton Notch, Dunn Falls is a 2-mile moderately challenging hike to a lovely, small waterfall. Start at the small parking lot on Andover Rd. You will find the trailhead marked with a small cairn. The trail can be done as a loop – turn left on the Cascade Trail. You will follow the water and a series of tiny but pretty little falls.
Before turning back on the loop, make sure to take the trail spur to the top of Dunn falls.
Mother Walker Falls
This is a short stop off the road, but after walking the entire area when we visited in July, we didn’t see much of a waterfall or impressive gorge. If you are looking for one to skip, this one might be the one.
Did I miss any favorite Grafton Notch Hikes or Waterfalls? Leave me a comment and let me know!