Old Speck Mountain

At near-peak fall foliage time, we hiked our first 4,000 footer in Maine, Old Speck Mountain.


Elevation Gain
0 ft


Segment Distance

Total Distance

Route Description

0 mi0 miStart at Appalachian Trail Parking in Grafton Notch State Park
1 mi1 miOld Speck Trail to the juncture with Eyebrow Trail
2.5 mi3.5 miOld Speck Trail to Grafton Loop Trail
0.3 mi3.8 miGrafton Loop Trail to the summit of Old Speck
0.3 mi4.1 miGrafton Loop Trail back to Old Speck Trail
2.5 mi6.6 miOld Speck Trail to Eyebrow Trail
1.2 mi7.8 miEyebrow Trail back to parking lot


Note: Map mileage does not match stats because Gaia GPS tends to undercount it. Mileage stats were calculated using 4000footers.com.

Old Speck

Hike Date: September 26, 2020

Maine just added Massachusetts to the list of states that are exempt from quarantine regulations, so naturally we jumped at the opportunity to hike there! We love Maine and have been waiting patiently to tackle their 14 4,000 footers throughout this COVID-19 pandemic. First up: Old Speck Mountain. Since Old Speck Mountain is located close to the border of New Hampshire and is isolated from the rest of the Maine 4,000 footers, we thought it would be a great one to start with. 

For Kathy’s birthday celebration, we decided to camp at one of our favorite front country campgrounds, White Lake State Park Campground and hike Old Speck in Maine and Hedgehog Mountain in New Hampshire. We drove up on Friday afternoon and got to the campground just as the sun set. We ate pizza, drank some of our favorite Alchemist beer, and read the Unlikely Thru-Hiker together by the fire. It was a perfect fall night. Before bed, we rolled up our rainfly doors and let the cool September air filter through our tent.

Our Big Agnes Copper Spur tent

The next morning, we let ourselves sleep in and started driving to Old Speck Mountain at around 8:00am. Immediately after turning out of the campground, we were overwhelmed by the beauty of the fall colors. We have never seen fall foliage look this vibrant in New Hampshire so we had to stop at a nearby Chocorua Lake to take some pictures. The water was like glass, reflecting the red leaves and Mt. Chocorua perfectly. Chocorua looks like a great hike, but we’ll save it for another day.

View of Mt. Chocorua
Campsite #253A at White Lake State Park Campground

We continued on and drove about an hour and 45 minutes to Old Speck Mountain Trail. The foliage on the way was absolutely bonkers. The colors were popping so brightly and looked like they were almost crawling up the cliff faces from the valleys. When we got to the parking lot, we were unsurprised to find it completely full, with cars lining the road. Of course it was a busy day, the weather and the scenery were too perfect. Just before the trailhead, even the view of the mountain from the parking lot was awe-inspiring. We paused to use the privies (there are a couple at the trailhead, which was great because Old Speck doesn’t have much else around it to stop at), and started up Old Speck Trail, which is also a part of the Appalachian Trail, at about 10:15am.

Old Speck Mountain parking lot

The trail was beautiful, but no joke. We knew it would climb steadily based on the elevation profile and found that our heart rates stayed up for the majority of the ascent. After about 1 mile, we passed some ledges with great views into the valley. Just after that, we came to a juncture where we could either continue up to the summit or go back down to the parking lot down via Eyebrow Trail. We turned left and continued 2.5 miles up Old Speck Trail. There was nothing technically “special” about this trail, but it had everything we love: pine trees, sun-dappled rock steps and slabs, scrubby blueberry bushes, changing leaves, and some sections of pine needle covered ground.

Rock stairs
Gorgeous rock slab section
First ledge view about 1 mile in
Appalachian Trail marker

Close to the junction with Grafton Loop Trail, which takes you to the summit, there was one stretch that was pretty steep, but at the top of that stretch, we were rewarded with our first sweeping views.

More rock stairs...
And more rock slabs...
Sweeping view of the valley and with fall colors popping

After this section, we turned left on Grafton Loop Trail for 0.3 miles to the summit of Old Speck. We couldn’t believe we had gotten there so quickly. I guess we were just incredibly motivated by the gorgeous weather and scenery that we didn’t realize that our pace stayed so consistently fast. When we got to the summit, we saw a fire tower, a large sitting area with log benches, and a pretty sizable crowd. There aren’t many views from the summit itself, so you really need to climb the tower to get the most bang for your buck. However, if you are scared of heights, this might not be a good experience. The only way up is via a vertical ladder. Kevin carefully climbed up first and I followed him. Even though I was scared, I knew that I had at least 3 points of contact at all times. Looking directly out in front of me and not down helped with the vertigo, also. When we got to the top, we immediately knew the climb was worth it – 360 degree views of pine trees near the summit and a blanket of autumnal colors spread across the valleys below. We slowly made our way down the ladder, grabbed our packs, and bolted down the mountain.

Old Speck summit tower
Excited to tag 53/67 of the New England 67 4,000 footers!
Climbing down from the tower
View from Old Speck summit tower

On our way down, we took the Eyebrow Trail to the parking lot and it was well worth it. We got some of the best views of the valley and fall colors from a small, somewhat hidden ledge accessed through an opening in the bushes that is located just before the trail climbs up for a short bit.

Incredible fall colors from a ledge off of Eyebrow Trail

After a long break, we continued on, stopping frequently to take pictures of the bright leaves. On the way down, there were metal rung stairs and metal handrails to assist us down the steeper part of the trail. Then, the rest was relatively easy and flat to the parking lot. Old Speck was our first 4,000 footer in Maine and our 53rd 4,000 foot peak of the New England 67 list. It met all of our expectations and then some with how spectacular the fall foliage views were!

Sea of orange, red, and yellow
Iron hand rails on the way down Eyebrow Trail
Fall in Maine!
Metal handrails on the way down Eyebrow Trail
Flat and pretty path to the parking lot

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One Comment

  1. January 11, 2021

    You have mentioned very interesting points! ps decent site. Desiri Elmer Caves

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