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Great Hikes: Albany Mountain Trail

The views of the Androscogging River Valley from the open ledges of Albany are huge.
The views of the Androscoggin River Valley from the open ledges of Albany Mountain are huge.

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.

The White Mountain National Forest is located in New Hampshire and Maine
The White Mountain National Forest is located in New Hampshire and Maine

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 The trail name has been changed, but the signs are still out of date. 

Trail Junction leading to the summit
Trail Junction leading to the summit

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.

You are treated to numerous views as you hike from cairn to cairn
You are treated to numerous views as you hike from cairn to cairn

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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4 comments

  1. We hiked this trail last week and it’s just as you say. Those cairns are fun to follow and create an element of suspense!

  2. Glad you’re enjoying Great Maine Mountains! Been hiking ’em for a lifetime! EW from Maine

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