Location: Newry, Maine
Webpage: Maine State Park
General Description: Grafton Notch is an excellent example of a U-shaped valley cut out by glacial action during the last ice age 12,000 years ago. Situated between Old Speck Mountain and Baldpate Mountain, this 3,192 acre state park offers many opportunities for hikers to view mountain scenery and enjoy the outdoors. Heavily logged in the late 1800s, the forests are still considered young to mature stands of mixed hardwoods, spruce, hemlock, and white pine. There are multiple trails ranging from easy to severe, including 12 of some of the most grueling miles on the Appalachian Trail. Popular easy and short hikes include Screw Augur Falls, Mother Walker Falls, and Moose Cave. There are picnic tables located at Screw Augur Falls and the Spruce Meadow Picnic Area.
1) There is no Visitor Center associated with this state park and fees are collected on the honor system at any of the parking areas. The drive itself on Maine 26 is very scenic and worth the trip as the highway cuts through the center of the park.
2) The Screw Augur Falls are located right at the parking lot, so there is very little effort needed to visit an interesting set of small falls as Bear Creek winds its way through the granite rocks. It is also a great place to eat lunch on a picnic table alongside the babbling creek.
3) The Mother Walker Falls is another easy hike of about 0.2 miles along highway 26 that overlooks a 40 foot deep gorge that is 980 feet long. You may be disappointed if you visit the falls in early August and expect to see a waterfall. There was very little water in the creek and for the most part was hidden from the path at the top of the gorge. However, it is a pleasant walk along the side of the gorge. At the north end of the trail, be sure to climb around the rocks along the creek to the backside where you can see where the stream is exiting from under some huge boulders that cover the stream making it an “underground” river for about 100 feet.
4) Moose Cave is another short hike of about 0.25 miles along the top edge of the gorge. Along this stretch, the small amount of water, which you can hear in places, is completely hidden by the rocks that have fallen to cover the entire streambed. At one location you can see in under the rocks at a location named Moose Cave due to the fact that a moose had fallen in and gotten trapped. You do have to be careful you do not share its fate at it is a 20 foot drop down a sheer rockface to the bottom of the cave. They have done a great job providing access to the cave with a series of wooden steps and boardwalks down and then back up the side of the gorge.
5) The Spruce Meadows Picnic Area is located in a mature stand of spruce-hemlock trees with picnic tables scattered through most of the meadow.