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Screw Auger Falls, Grafton Notch

Grafton Notch
Grafton Notch

Last September I spent an evening in Grafton Notch along the Maine section of The Appalachian Trail. If you’ve never visited Grafton Notch, you owe yourself a visit. It’s a remote and wild mountain pass at the northeastern end of the Mahoosic Range, marking the northernmost extent of the White Mountains.

I think Grafton Notch is a beautiful place, but it’s inhabited by a spirit with little sense of humor. In the two times I’ve passed through, I’ve experienced tremendous lightning and thunderstorms, accompanied by torrential hail and/or rain.

That was certainly the case on my last trip there in September. It had rained 4 inches in the days prior to my arrival and the surrounding rivers and streams were in flood stage. I was camped along a tributary of the Bear River, the night before catching a shuttle up to Monson to start a southbound section hike.  That entire night I was worried that the banks of the tributary would overflow and swamp my tent. The river was so loud you could hear it through the woods 50 yards away.

The river did not overflow its banks that night, but the streams in the area were still cranking the next morning. I had some time to kill before catching my ride up north and I checked out Screw Auger Falls in the Notch, the site of an old mill built in the 1850s that had harnessed power the of the Bear River for cutting lumber.

From what I gather this is usually a sedate site where people roll up their pant legs and wade in the pools surrounding a 6 tiered water fall. It certainly wasn’t sedate during my visit, but hopefully, it will be when I visit again this summer to start another northbound section hike from the Notch to Stratton. Hopefully, the spirit won’t notice me next time and I can sneak through the Notch without incident.


  1. Grafton Notch is one of my favorite places in the world. It's where I originally learned to love hiking (on Bald Pate and Old Speck), and is still one of the best places for a weekend backpacking trip to test out new gear (Grafton Loop Trail). The views from so many of the mountains there are beyond compare, with Puzzle Mountain, Sunday River Whitecap, Bald Pate, and Old Speck all within a day or two hike of each other. And the rivers… oh, what more can I say? I love this place.

  2. Grafton Notch is incredibly beautiful. The first time I was there I hiked south through the Mahoosics on the AT. Tough hiking. Someday, I'd like to go back and do the Grafton Loop Trail. In fact, that sounds like a good trail to lead a trip on this summer.

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