Grafton Loop, Maine

Summit nine peaks and graze on trailside blueberries in Maine.
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Summit nine peaks and graze on trailside blueberries in Maine.
Sunday River Whitecap (Mike Thicke / Flickr)

You'll traverse the bare granite ledges of Sunday River Whitecap on Maine's Grafton Loop. (Mike Thicke / Flickr)

The numbers: 39 miles, 3 to 4 days

The hike: Crossing nine peaks, this route links a rocky section of the AT with 31 miles of smooth singletrack for a view lover’s tour de force. Start at the south end and hike clockwise, traversing the bare granite ledges of Sunday River Whitecap, where tasty blueberries (ripe in August) from trailside bushes will compete with the views for your attention. Cross Miles Notch to reach a spur to Slide Campsite after 10.5 miles. Next day, climb over 4,170-foot Old Speck, the fifth-highest peak in Maine, with views to Mahoosuc Notch from an observation tower rising high above the spruce trees. Detour west on the AT to a campsite by Speck Pond ($8) at the north end of the Mahoosuc Range, nestled in a spruce-lined mountain bowl and said to be the highest pond in Maine at 3,400 feet. Day three is long but rewarding, following the AT through cliff-lined Grafton Notch, over the twin Baldpate Peaks, and down a ladder on Lightning Ledge to a relaxing evening at Lane Campsite, where a spur trail leads to a waterfall and swimming hole. Finish with a 13.2-mile trek through fern-floored woods and past a final viewpoint atop Puzzle Mountain.

TRIP PLANNER

Trailhead 44.539216, -70.829565; ME 26, opposite Eddy Rd., 4.7 miles north of ME 2 in Newry

Red tape Use designated campsites; no fires

Season spring through fall

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