Route: Grafton Notch Loop (ME)

Maine, US
39 mi
Vertical Gain
13,000 ft

Adam Wilcox posted the route:

The Grafton Notch Loop is 39 mile trail that was completed in 2007. Close to the Sunday River ski area in western Maine near the New Hampshire border, it generally follows the mountain ridge lines that surround Grafton Notch and the Bear River Valley, passing over the summits of Old Speck, the Baldpates, and Sunday River White Cap. From Old Speck to the East Baldpate the loops runs concurrently with the Appalachian Trail while the remainder is newly constructed trail with periodic campsites, shelters, and water sources available.

On Sunday, July 6, 2014, Ryan Welts and I (Adam Wilcox) ran the entire route in 9:29:30. My GPS track is here:

and report is here:

As near as I can tell, Ryan and I set a new Fastest Known Time (FKT) for the route. A little Googling beforehand showed that Scott and Deb Livingston with Matt Schomburg ran the whole route in 13:26 in 2008, shortly after the loop was completed. The next year, Steve and Deb Pero et al also did the whole thing roughly 14-15 hours. I had heard a rumor of a possible 10:30 time but no one I've talked to can remember where they heard that, who did it, or when it might have happened. In any case, we left plenty of slack in our day and if this worthy route sees more attention I wouldn't be surprised to see some one better our time by ninety minutes

GPS Track


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I think Debbie and I were the first to do this loop in one shot. We did it in September 2008. This was before GPS tracks were solid and battery life could go the distance. i have a partial track, but the early state Garmin I owned at the time died. We were joined by Matt Schomburg, our erstwhile hiking/running partner from northern NH. Our effort was unsupported. 

Our vintage trip report from blog:… 

I'm pretty sure we inspired Ryan and Adam to tackle this route. Good for them. Debbie and I should go back and do it again. 

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Last weekend we returned to the Grafton Loop Trail for the first time in 12 years. This time, we backpacked it in four days with our 13 year-old son and 10 year-old daughter. They loved the adventure. It's a tough one. We opted to try the counter-clockwise direction starting at the southern parking lot on Rt. 26. This is the route that Adam and Ryan established. Our trip brought back great memories from 2008. On that day, we never intended to go fast. We just wanted to do it before sunset. We picked a lot of blueberries and lingered in the streams. 

This past weekend we did much of the same, but each night, we slept well. 


I ran the loop in 10:25 this weekend and it was fun! I had a friend (Stas) join me for the first half and a different (Rich)  friend join me and bring my dog Bennett for the second half. Here is the tracker link

The Garmin watch seemed to upload weird so the track looks off but the track is visible on the tracker link.  It was a beautiful day and I started up Puzzle Mountain and went counter clockwise. ☺️