Hiking Old Speck

July 20, 2007 at 1:53 pm 2 comments


This week has been a rainy one as far as my Maine summer goes. However, last Saturday was a different story. Sunny skies, punctuated by a few non threatening thunder clouds, paired with cool (but not too cool) temperatures made for a perfect day to be outside and to be active. What should we do with such a perfect day? My thought was to drive to Grafton Notch, near the New Hampshire border, for a casual day hike.

The last time my husband and I went hiking was a year ago, July, so we weren’t up for anything too serious; maybe a two to three hour loop with a return stop at Screw Auger Falls for a refreshing swim to end the day. This would also be Kineo’s first longer walk in the woods so keeping our trek short would most likely benefit us all.

When arriving at our destination we headed to the Old Speck trails. A large parking lot dotted with cars was the base for three routes of varying distances: The Eyebrow Trail Loop (Round trip )
2.1 miles/3.4 km (1 hr., 40 min.), The Table Rock Loop (Round trip)
2.4 miles/3.8 km (1 hr., 45 min.), or the Old Speck Trail (One way)
3.9 miles/6.3 km (3 hrs., 25 min.). (Here is a good review of the trail at Trails.com.)
As we pondered over the map at the head of the trails, the two loopdsc07583.jpg routes just didn’t seem long enough. We really wanted to hike for more than just under 2 hours. However, the Old Speck trail looked to be a bit of a challenge. Sure, the 3 hours plus would be a great hike but that was only ONE WAY. We’d have to return. So, after a little more consideration we decided, “What the heck,” and set ourselves up for a challenge: we were hiking to the top.

3.8 miles becomes 7.6 miles. That is a good hike for two people that hadn’t been out on a mountain in awhile. Oh, and did I mention that I was wearing new hiking boots? Luckily, my husband didn’t mind backpacking an extra pair of shoes for me just in case I needed them.

Without going into too many details, I’ll give a quick summary of our excursion. We started up around 1:30 p.m. and returned to the bottom adsc07602.jpg little after 7 p.m. Although I walk, jog, and exercise regularly I do not head uphill for my entire workout. It was a tough climb, I’ll admit. I was ready to turn back when we hit the sign leading to the Table Rock Loop but somehow we prevailed huffing and puffing up the trail. Here’s a picture of when we were ALMOST at the top.

Despite how this is sounding, the hike was enjoyable. A stream runsdsc07607.jpg down the side of the trail and we stopped to rest and let Kineo cool off and take in water. He seems to like to lie down in the stream while he drinks. It is pretty funny…especially seeing it for the first time. We didn’t realize how much he likes water.

The aroma of the pine was incredible! Have you ever walked into one of those Maine tourists shops to find yourself bombarded with the strong scent of pine trinkets scattered throughout the store? Well, the natural smell of this tourist attraction was absolutely wonderful. If it wasn’t for the swarming black flies, I could have stood on the trail for hours experiencing this appealing aroma.

Did I say black flies? Yes, they were there but only if you stopped for any period of time. The flies weren’t as bad in the woods as they were at the summit. Although the view was breathtaking, Maine’s unofficial state bird kept us from spending too much time at the peak.

Unlike some people, I always find the hike down much easier than going up. Kineo certainly did his share of assisting us in both directions of the hike. Because he likes to run (that’s run away), we kept him on his leash. This resulted in a little extra pull on the way up (very beneficial) AND on the way down (a little trickier). We’re looking forward to having a harness made for him this fall so we can try a little skijoring this winter. Kineo likes to pull but was great when told to stop and wait. The skijoring could be fun if he can learn the commands. Ahh..but that is another story.

I did have to change out of my hiking boots about midway down from Old Speck. The ankle supports were just too darn supportive and were beginning to cause black and blue marks as well as blisters. Time to come off!

All in all the day was exhausting but fun. We skipped our stop at Screw Auger Falls and headed straight to the Sunday River Brew Pub for a bite to eat and a couple beers…especially the beers.

the topWe’re looking forward to our next hike as we both love being out in the woods. However, I think we’ll look for something that will take us about three hours total to hike. That way we can work our way up to what we’ve already done.


Entry filed under: Everyday Life, Healthy Living/Healthy Earth.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ellen Norton  |  August 10, 2007 at 1:38 am

    Hi Kelly, Mark and I did Old Speck years ago with heavy packs on, as we stayed overnight on tent platforms somewhere along the way. It was all we could do to not be totally devoured by the black flies. It was hot and yucky. I don’t have great memories of that climb because of those dagnabbit flies. Great pic of you two at the top! Ellen

  • 2. Doug Twitchell  |  September 17, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Hi there, I stumbled across this page because I’m planning to re-hike Old Speck later on this week, and was refreshing my memory on things. If you’re looking for some shorter hikes, you can find a few on my list of things I’ve hiked over at Amateur-Hikers.com

    If you want really amazing views for not a huge amount of work, I’d recommend this one:


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