If you are looking for a challenging hike that will take you on a full day adventure, this is the trail. This hike is one of my all time favorites and my kids would tell you the same. I've done his one twice with my brother-in-law and nephews...and another kid or two joining us (we take the "more is merrier" approach to hiking with kids). This hike is great for summer, since it ends with a swimming hole, but we've enjoyed the crystal clear, mountain water during the fall as well. I should clarify, there is no me in that we - the kids will swim here in the fall. Especially my nephew, Jack, who is immune to cold water and will swim anywhere, in any temperature. He's a magical narwhal, minus the horn.
Located just over the Maine/NH border in Evan’s Notch, this 9.5 mile loop offers endless stunning views, rock scrambling, 4 miles of open ledge, two peaks (South and North Baldface), a waterfall, and an emerald pool swimming hole. This hike. Here are some tips if you go:
1. Wear shoes with good grip for rock scrambling and wait for a dry week.
2. Follow the Baldface Circle Trail clockwise, I repeat, clockwise. Very important.
3. Pack plenty of water (we've run out in the past)
4. Pack windbreakers and extra layers. The open ledge and summits are cold.
5. Leave early, this hike took us 6.5 hours.
6. Leave younger kids at home. The first time we did this hike, the youngest in our group were 9 years old. They did great, but motivational coaching was needed towards the end.
7. Bring a suit and towel for a jump into the emerald pool.
The trailhead is located off of Route 113, an hour and a half from Portland. Since I'll just give you a summary here, with some pretty pictures, here is the link with all of the important details on All Trails: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/new-hampshire/baldface-trail
The start of this trail feels easy to moderate. Just another walk in the woods, until about the point where you reach the lean to.
From here, you will soon start to climb, reaching the part of the trail that gives this mountain its name: a steep, open, rock face that requires the kind of climbing where you need full use of your hands. It's challenging, and really fun to scramble in dry weather, not so fun when wet.
This leads to some beautiful overlooks, soon to be followed by some of the most expansive, breathtaking mountain views.
After continuing to climb steep, but easier terrain, you will reach the first summit. It's here where you will have to remind your crew that you have a long, LONG road ahead of you. But the view here is stellar and that swimming hole will keep all of you going.
Next you will follow an open ridgeline, making your way to the second summit.
After an impressive amount of gorgeous views, you will near the end of this long loop and begin to look for the small trail leading off to the left. Here you will find the swimming hole.
It's just so magically beautiful - that aquamarine water. It always gives me the burst of energy I need to make it the final, short leg to the car.
I hope you get to experience this hike, if you are able to do it. If not, maybe the pictures will take you on enough of a journey. Sometimes in the dead of winter, I like to look at them, dreaming of returning to this glorious place.