In early November 2016 a friend and I camped out near Grafton Notch in western Maine. The next morning we hiked the two peaks of Baldpate Mountain. Baldpate was supposed to be a great hike above treeline, so we had to check it out.
We parked at the Old Speck parking lot and crossed the street to follow the Appalachian Trail north. We took the side trail to Table Rock and rejoined the Appalachian Trail to both peaks of Baldpate Mountain. We returned along the Appalachian Trail with a short side trip to see Baldpate lean-to. The hike was just short of 8 miles with 3800 feet of elevation gain and took us a little less than 6 hours.
At around 9:30 am we pulled into the parking lot along the Appalachian Trail on Maine Route 26 at the Old Speck Trail head. It was mostly cloudy, 30 degrees and there was only one other car in the lot.
We headed north on the Appalachian Trail and turned onto the side trail to Table Rock. It was a moderately steep hike up Table Rock that weaved in and out of boulders and included some nice climbing and views toward Old Speck. We arrived at Table Rock at 10:00 am and took a long break to admire the amazing view of Grafton Notch.
The side trail for Table Rock continued and looped back to the Appalachian Trail. Continuing north on the AT we passed the side trail for Baldpate lean-to and climbed the steep trail toward the west peak of Baldpate. Before long we hit the cloud line and with it frosty conditions. By noon we made it to West Baldpate, but the clouds prevented any views. As we descended the col between the west peak and main peak we stopped to put on microspikes because it was icy.
The mile up to the main peak of Baldpate was one of the more arduous in Maine. We hit the open ledges as it began to snow but we could see far enough ahead to continue without concern.
We made it to the summit of Baldpate shortly before 1:00 pm and quickly found shelter from the wind below the trail. We fired up our stoves to make coffee and tea and enjoyed lunch in the shelter of some hoarfrost-covered trees.
After lunch we headed back down the way we hiked up. When we got to the side trail for Baldpate lean-to we dropped our packs. We ran down the trail to get in a small trail run and check out the shelter.
We followed the Appalachian Trail back out to the road, bypassing the side trail to Table Rock this time. We were back to the parking lot a little after 3:00 pm. Though our only views were from Table Rock, those were impressive enough, and we still enjoyed the peaceful hike and preview of winter.
Video of Baldpates hike
Music from Free Music Archive: “An Entire Ocean Under Scarred Skin” by Schematics for Gravity
Date Hiked: 05 November 2016
Elevation Gain: 3800′
Distance: 7.6 miles
Book Time: 5:50
Actual Time: 5:50