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Mahoosuc Notch

7th August 

16.4 miles

Carlo Col Shelter (1908.5) to Bald Pate Lean-To (1924.9)

I was looking forward to hiking Mahoosuc Notch on the Appalachian Trail today. The last couple of miles of hiking was in the pouring rain. My body was exhausted from the effort. Despite only covering just over 16 miles I would have to rate today as the most physically demanding day of the hike so far. Mahoosuc Notch and the subsequent climb up Mahoosuc Arm was some of the hardest on trail hiking I’ve done.

I was the first hiker on trail in the morning. Leaving the 10 or so other hikers to their morning slumber and straight away I was hiking through the wind and clouds. The high alpine mountains of Maine were not going to let me past easily.

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Mahoosuc Notch is commonly referred to as the toughest mile of hiking on the whole Appalachian Trail. The trail, if that’s the correct word for it, follows a boulder field between two mountains. A combination of rock scrambling and squeezing through boulders is required to complete the Mahoosuc Notch mile. This is not for everyone. It’s tough going. It took me nearly two hours to get through. I did take time for photos and videos but still a tough section. The photos below are the Appalachian Trail, not some side trail or me exploring nearby caves or rock climbs.

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When the fun and games of Mahoosuc Notch was finished there was no rest. Now came Mahoosuc Arm, probably the steepest climb on the whole Appalachian Trail, 1500 feet of climbing over 1 mile, a similar grade to a set of stairs. The only difference is, there’s no stairs just steep slippery rocks and tree roots.

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In comparison, the rest of the afternoon was a walk in the woods but that’s not exactly true. While climbing up Old Spek Mountain I stopped on numerous occasions to take in the view. Mountains as far as I could see. I was alone for the whole day of hiking and many moments on this climb I just stopped to sit and enjoy the view. These views and the struggle of Mahoosuc Notch and Mahoosuc Arm was why I was here. I had a moment which is hard to describe but let’s say I was grateful for the opportunity to be able to hike a trail like this, not everybody is so fortunate.

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Light rain fell in the late afternoon with ominous dark clouds signaling worse to come. I was several miles from the nearest campsite. The rain hit heavier the closer I got to camp until it was pouring down as I pitched the tent. No photos nor words could come close to summing up my experience today. May I have many more experiences like this in the future. Best day hiking in the Appalachian Trail so far.

You might be interested in:

The Complete Pacific Great Trail Guide
The Complete Continental Divide Trail Guide
The Complete Appalachian Trail Guide
Lightweight Hiking Gear List

Have you seen my YouTube Channel?

Check it out and subscribe. Then watch the episode below – Day 114 to 123

Is Mahoosuc Notch that hard? Ep. 17 - BikeHikeSafari

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11 Responses

  1. PackmanPete

    Well, glad you liked the Notch. Back in the day, I did it with one of those external frame “skyscraper” packs. Had to take it off and drag it behind me the whole mile. Got to the other end and someone told me there’s a bypass. Now you tell me. But hey, the best is yet to come. The last 100 miles flatten out and pass some beautiful lakes. You’ll have to cowboy it on the beach. You’re in the home stretch. Go 4 it.

  2. Bob Jaworski

    Trail looking damn tough and very rewarding. Awesome… Safe steps always.

    • BikeHikeSafari

      The rewards are definitely worth it, like most things in life I guess.

  3. rosiewalker

    Anyone bigger than you as in wider may not fit through some of those places. What an adventure …………..Glad you are fit for the challenge .

    • BikeHikeSafari

      The places weren’t too tight, I hiked them with my pack on. I guess some hikers need to remove their pack to get through.

  4. Andi

    You are definitely up for a challenge!! Have to ask… as I was looking at your photos clambering over all manner of rocks and through notches… were you “double hiking” those parts to get the shots… going back to retrieve a camera and doing it all over again!!?? If so… you are the most dedicated of hikers to record all the nuances of this trail!! Thank you for sharing!

    • BikeHikeSafari

      Yep, I would set the camera and record video of the hike. All those photos are photo grabs from GoPro video.

  5. leggypeggy

    I’m exhausted with you and I’m just reading and enjoying the pics. Good to see PackmanPete’s comment that you are in the home stretch.


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