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Notch Trail

Trail Overview

This trail provides access to the Appalachian Trail near the Mahoosuc Notch, which has been described as the AT's most difficult mile.
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Trail Activity
5.0 miles, Round Trip
Riley Twp, Success (NH)
Dirt/Forest Floor, Rock/Ledge
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The Notch Trail starts on a spur road off Success Pond Road and ascends fairly easily along a brook, climbing 800 feet in 2.5 miles to the Appalachian Trail junction. From the junction, continuing northbound on the AT will lead hikers into the Mahoosuc Notch, generally considered the toughest mile on the AT.

Other Information

This trail is partially within the 9,993-acre Mahoosuc Ecological Reserve, which, like all Maine state Ecological Reserves, is specifically set aside to protect and monitor natural ecosystems. Find out more by checking out the Maine Natural Areas Program's Ecoreserve Fact Sheet for Mahoosuc Unit.

Trail Manager

Visit Appalachian Mountain Club and Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands online for more information and a printable map or contact:

Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, Western Public Lands Office

Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, Western Public Lands Office
PO Box 327
Farmington, Maine 04938
Phone: (207) 778-8231
View website

Appalachian Mountain Club, Pinkham Notch Visitor Center

Appalachian Mountain Club, Pinkham Notch Visitor Center
361 Route 16
PO Box 298
Gorham, NH 03581
Phone: (603) 466-2721
View website

Nearby Events


Trail Tips

Plan Ahead and Prepare
Respect trail closures.
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Trailhead Information

IMPORTANT: Access to these trailheads is notoriously hard to navigate because they mostly follow unmarked logging roads that can also be difficult or impossible to pass. Experience on back roads, your vehicle, and the time of year may dictate whether you will be able to access the trailhead. Expect to have some trial and error when navigating these roads and please exercise good judgment and common sense.

From West: Follow US Route 2 into New Hampshire and take NH Route 16 north at its intersection with US Route 2 in Gorham. Continue on NH Route 16 for 4.5 miles towards Berlin and then bear right on Unity Street to cross the Androscoggin River on the Cleveland Bridge. Unity Street will continue straight through a set of traffic lights and then bear sharply right and becomes Hutchins Street. Follow Hutchins Street (bearing left in several places) another mile to where Success Pond Road leaves Hutchins Street on the right (eastern) side of the road. From here, it is another 10.9 miles along Success Pond Road to the spur road which leaves from the south (right) side of the road. The spur road runs about 0.5 miles up to a parking lot and the trailhead.

From East: Success Pond Road leaves ME Route 26 about 2.8 miles north of the Appalachian Trail crossing in Grafton Notch State Park. Use mileage to determine the correct road as Success Pond Road is an unmarked logging road leaving ME Route 26 on the western side of the road (left side if coming from the State Park). Note that Google Maps labels this as York Pond Road intersecting North Pond Road, and then Success Pond Road, but it is not guaranteed that any of these roads will be marked. The spur road leaves from the southern (left) side of the road about 8.5 miles from ME Route 26. The spur road runs about 0.5 miles up to a parking lot and the trailhead.

Click on a parking icon to get custom directions
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July 19, 2020
As of July 18, 2020, access to Notch Trail via Success Pond Rd from the east (Maine Rt. 26) is still not passable by car. The very narrow wooden bridge described in the earlier comment from 2018 is still there. Google Maps doesn't know that though!
July 07, 2018
FYI I discovered today that Success Pond Road is inaccessible by vehicle when coming from the east side in Maine. Within 1 mile of turning onto the rd from route 26 we found impassible sections where culverts may have previously existed and have since been removed. There was a small wooden bridge in place however it was only wide enough for 4-wheelers or a side-by-side. Condition of Success Pond Road from the NH side is very bumpy so take a truck or atv, or if driving a car take your time and use caution. Good news is that once we made it to the NH side, these directions easily directed us to the trail head for our hike!
June 26, 2017
Thanks for letting us know about those mileages, rdhatch. We have updated our trail description accordingly. Happy trails!
June 23, 2017
My wife & I hiked this trail to the notch this week. We found these directions to the trail head were very good and it was very well marked. You'll see other side trails on the right on the way to the notch side road but they're well marked with a white AMC sign that was easy to see & contained the trail name and distance to the trail. A couple of updates to the mileage. It's .5 miles from Success pond road to the notch trail head not .3 (the AMC sign indicates this). Also the notch trail is 2.5 miles to the AT not 2.2 (the AMC sign indicates this). the notch trail is a wonderful trail. It took us about an hour to hike it, which surprised us but it's a nice moderate hike with the sound of a river guiding you most of the way. Be prepared to drive on average 20 mph on success pond road as it's a fairly rough logging road. it took us 40 minutes to do the 10.9 miles.
August 25, 2014
If coming from the East/North, York Pond Road is closed with boulders blocking both ends. Keep going West on 26 to get to North Pond Road and take that till it turns into Success Pond Road.

Besides the road closure, it wasn't too hard to find the trailhead using GPS to confirm our location. The trail is very nice and parallels and crosses a stream most of the way.

My 9, 10, & 12 year old kids enjoyed the hike to and from the notch, but the AT Notch trail was a bit too challenging and we only did a fifth of it before hiking back.
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