Albany Mountain? “Where the hell is that? What’s wrong with hiking in the White Mountains?” asked my friends. “Albany Mountain is in the White Mountains,” I replied. “The White Mountain National Forest include areas in New Hampshire and Maine.”
In fact, some of the wildest and most remote parts of the White Mountains are in Maine. Famous Mahoosuc Notch – the hardest mile on the Appalachian Trail, the Grafton Loop Trail, Crocker Pond, Caribou Mountain: they’re all on the Maine side of the White Mountain National Forest. Tough and remote, they provide some of the best hiking and backpacking in the region.
But I digress. Albany Mountain is an easy hike that provides great views and is just a hop and a skip away from beautiful Crocker Pond. Both are reached by driving down Flat Road, off RT 2, in West Bethel Maine, just over the New Hampshire/Maine state line. The White Mountain Guide has good driving instructions to get there.
This hikes starts on the northern part of the Albany Notch Trail and continues up the Albany Mountain Trail at 1.5 miles. The junction is well signed and you can’t miss it. I wouldn’t recommend following the Albany Mountain Trail south, towards Birch Ave, past this junction. While the southern section is in the process of restoration, parts of it can be very difficult to follow.
Note: when leaving the trailhead parking lot, the trail sign says “Albany Notch Trail”. The trail name has been changed, but the signs are still out of date.
While hiking up to this point is quite pleasant, the summit trail is the star attraction on this hike and follows a delightful sequence of artistically built cairns that lead you through a veritable rock garden of open ledges to the Albany Mountain outlook.
Whoever built this trail had a playful sense of drama or humor, as the case may be. Just when you think you’ve reached the end of the trail, it dips and weaves across another set of ledges, tantalizing you with more picturesque views and easy scrambling. The cat and mouse game continues for a delightfully long time, but it can get hot up on the rocks in the bright sunshine, so bring a hat and plenty of water.
The thing that makes the Albany Mountain Trail so special is that you get an above treeline experience and expansive views with relatively little effort, making this a good hike for kids and their parents. I won’t lie. You still need to hike close to 4 miles to get to the outlook, but 1/2 of it is downhill. I always find comfort in knowing that.
Total Distance: 3.8 miles with 900 feet of elevation gain.
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