Oxford County High Point Trip Report

Date: November 2000
Author: Denis Hanson

Old Speck is the highpoint of Oxford County, my "true" home county. I use to climb it every year on my birthday. It is within Grafton Notch State Park. The rest of the Mahoosuc Range is within the Maine State Lands system. For the past 20+ years, Maine has been buying from, or trading acreage with, the various paper companies. Maine trades state lands in the easier-to-harvest lowlands for mountain ridges, lake shores, bogs, etc. In my opinion, this system works better than the Great North Woods National Park proposal that "people from Boston" keep pushing. The land is protected, but not too protected, or too well-known.

From the hikers parking lot at the height-of-land in Grafton Notch, go left up the Old Speck (Appalachian) Trail for 0.1 mi. to the Eyebrow Trail. Follow the more-scenic Eyebrow Trail for 1.2 mi. across ledges till it rejoins the Old Speck Trail. Follow the Old Speck Trail for 2.4 mi. up the northern ridge of the mountain, going over at least 3 humps, till you reach the Mahoosuc Trail. The summit is 0.3 mi. left. There is an observation tower and picnic table at the summit. The open area at the summit is not tree line; I was told it was cleared by the National Guard for their helicopters when they rebuilt the lookout tower a few years ago. Climb the tower and enjoy extensive views of the White Mountains and the many mountains in Maine. Katahdin is not visible, but Bigelow and Sugarloaf are. Return the way you came, but do not descend on the Eyebrow Trail, stay on the main trail.

Total trip is 7.7 mi. with 2700' gain.

If you've got the time, a side trip 1.0 mi. south on the Mahoosuc Trail to Old Speck Pond is worthwhile. The pond is very scenic, and rather large for a mountain pond at 3450' elevation. Its pH was 4.5 when I sampled it many years ago - acid rain from the Midwest. To the S of Speck Pond the Appalachian Trail passes through Mahoosuc Notch, the so-called toughest mile on the AT. The trail forces a hiker to climb over, around, and under large boulders that have fallen from the notch walls.

On your way out of Grafton Notch State Park, make sure you stop at Screw Auger Falls to see the interesting waterfall and erosion features caused by glacial melting.