Grafton Notch State Park is extraordinarily popular with hikers. The Appalachian Trail twists over some of the prettiest summits in Maine, including Old Speck and Baldpate Mountains. Between the peaks, Bear River plummets alongside Route 26 through scenic drops with names like “Screw Auger Falls,” “Mother Walker Falls Gorge,” and “Moose Cave Gorge.”
There is no easier place in Maine to find Philadelphia vireos than at the Appalachian Trail parking lot. These vireos dominate the dawn chorus, along with hermit thrushes, winter wrens, and least flycatchers. While enjoying this treat, stay alert for peregrine falcons that nest on the cliffs above. Red-eyed and blue-headed vireos are also common throughout the park. Most of Maine’s warblers enjoy the mixed forest that abuts Route 26, including black-throated green, black-throated blue, northern parula, blackburnian, Nashville, magnolia, black-and-White, American redstart, and yellow-rumped.
Spruce Meadow Picnic Area marks a transition to boreal habitat at the northern end of the park. Boreal Chickadees can be found here. This boreal zone extends for another three miles beyond the park boundary. Check for Black-backed Woodpeckers in the wet, spruce areas alongside the road, but be wary of the heavy logging trucks that hurtle along this highway. This is also a likely spot for moose.
Boreal habitat is common at the higher elevations of the park. A day of hiking can mean an encounter with any of these: Canada jay, spruce grouse, black-backed woodpecker, boreal chickadee, yellow-bellied flycatcher, bay-breasted warbler, and blackpoll. Bicknell’s thrushes are present throughout the stunted spruce of the Mahoosuc Range above 3,000 feet. A substantial number have been documented on Baldpate Mountain.
North Oxford, ME 04261
GPS: 44.571822, -70.902414