View Full Version : Grafton Loop Trail to Puzzle Mt.

05-16-2005, 01:47 PM
Has anyone done this section of trail? I'm heading up there next weekend for a short backpack over PUzzle to the Stewart campsite. What's the climb up Puzzle like? Steep, rocky? Hard to tell from the online map I found.

Any info is appreciated.

05-16-2005, 02:02 PM
I climbed Puzzle mtn twice last year - a very nice climb with lots of nice views. Not really steep, just a couple of rock scrambles that you can easily carry a full pack up. I only went to the top of the mountain so can't advise after that. Hopefully, I'll get time enough to do the whole thing this year. I does look like they're working on the other half so the loop may be completed this year.

05-16-2005, 02:55 PM
Seeker: I've got Puzzle planned for 7/2 so I'd be interested in any of your thoughts once you've hiked it. I'm trying to figure out a loop hike, but haven't spent much time looking at it. I;ve just driven by Puzzle too long without climbing it :)

05-16-2005, 03:45 PM
SK, Will do!

More info here:


and here:


05-16-2005, 04:30 PM
No. Puzzle isn't bad at all. I was there July 10, 2003. The trail to Puzzle has been there for quite awhile. It's the dream child of the local landowner. Nice change to be on somebody's pet project rather than state or feds. But it had been upgraded lately to become part of the GLT, which had just opened when I was there. I wanted to beat the crowds :D . But I don't think the summer camp groups will overrun this one the way they have the Mahoosucs as there aren't any shelters. Unlike some recent new trails, this one is very well built and marked; you can see the nice rock-work in the steps (PZ01). And the 360* views from Puzzle summit are stunning. PZ04 shows you the view southwest to Sunday River ski area and, beyond that, the northern Presidentials and Mt. Washington. PZ03 looks out over Rt. 26 northwest to Old Speck (far left) and Baldpates east (right). PZ05 looks northeast to Baldpates and Long Mtn. It shows you the terrain you'll be covering on the eastern half of the GLT. It was very dry when I went. It's wetter this year but there aren't any real streams on the way up so you'll want to pack enough water. It was a hot day and I underestimated water needs so was very glad to get back to the car. I love the Grafton Notch. It's undeveloped and reminds me of the way the Franconia Notch used to be. (That is, that idyllic year or so after all the grand hotels, railroads, and loggers cleared out and before the tram- and freeway-builders got there.) By the way, Puzzle summit is in Maine, if it matters.

Dennis C.
05-17-2005, 07:35 AM
I did the delightful mostly open woods bushwhack up Puzzle Mtn in the latter 1980s long before the trail was even an idea on the drawing board. I remember some great outlooks about 1/4 mi. before the summit area and I'm sure the current trail must take them in. I'm curious to know if the trail goes to the highest point on the mountain (?). There was a summit register there when we visited.

05-17-2005, 07:43 AM
Dennis, a hiking friend of mine who has been on the trail within the last year or so, said that the trail does not go to the actual summit, and that he found the register and signed in.

05-17-2005, 08:43 AM
Yes the trail virtually goes to the summit. There's a huge cairn there, which I remember well because I sat in its shade on a hot July 10, 2003. Enlarge the map (http://www.outdoors.org/pdf/upload/Map-Grafton-Loop-Trail.pdf) and you'll see that the trail comes right up almost to the top.

05-17-2005, 09:47 AM
Great info and pics. Thanks Waumbeck!

05-17-2005, 03:28 PM
I backpacked the eastern loop last October, stayed @ Town Corner campsite. Nice trail all along, there was even a section that dare I say was "flat" - no seriously. A flat trail in Maine. Hike up Puzzle isn't bad. Nice little ledges north of the summit maybe .2 mile looking east. Anyone know the status of the western loop? Last I heard there were some landowner issues with the t/h on that side of the road.

05-17-2005, 03:56 PM
Anyone know the status of the western loop? Last I heard there were some landowner issues with the t/h on that side of the road.

It was initially projected to open summer 2005. But that's delayed now. How long I don't know. That side is all or part in private ownership, and it's steeper. I think the trail has had to cover some tougher terrain than originally planned to avoid some private land, so it's taking longer. Or something like that.

05-17-2005, 07:17 PM
Bluebearee, those "nice little ledges" are on the true summit, and they do have fine views! There used to be a register on a tree right next to them.

05-18-2005, 11:33 AM
The western or southern section of the GLT:

I haven't been paying attention and didn't know this half of the trail was an idea let alone was close to opening. I was bushwhacking Sunday River Whitecap yesterday and found the GLT about 200 yards from the summit. I was quite disappointed actually!

After enjoying the fine views from Whitecap, I followed the trail down to Miles Notch and began to follow it as it contours first south and then west around Slide Mtn. My goal was to summit Slide and just as I was wondering if it would ever go up Slide, I ran into two MATC workers who were working on relaying out the final section that connects to the AT south of Old Speck. I spoke with them for several minutes about the trail and some landowners and whatnot and then headed straight uphill to the summit of Slide. I think they were even more suprised to see me than I was to see them!

I won't write a real report of the trail since it's not officially opened and doesn't yet connect to any other trails or trailheads. You'll only find it at this point if you bushwhack to the Notch.

Below is a picture of the trail as it goes over the summit of Whitecap.


05-18-2005, 01:32 PM
Spencer, I did Slide and Sunday River Whitecap about 10 years ago, and as we were coming over from Slide through Miles Notch. we found a fairly well marked bootleg trail up and over the ledges of Sunday River Whitecap. I know what you mean when you say that you were disappointed to find a trail there, we felt the same at the time.

05-19-2005, 07:23 AM

I neglected to mention that trail. I came across it also, long before I reached the new trail near the summit. I came up from the north and as I rounded the northerly end of the ridge, I crossed that path. I followed it briefly to the first outcrop, but quickly lost it as the ridge drops slightly befor beginning the last ~500 feet to the summit. the trail was clearly old and didn't follow any boundary lines, so must have been a legitimate "hiking" trail at one point.


and btw, the townline between Riley and Grafton was repainted sometime in the last several years. In fact, the GLT uses part of that line as the trail. The trail I found was too far north and sporadic in direction to have been part of that line.