The Barefoot Sisters referred to NH as being plagued with notches. And the word notchy notch quickly became associated with a negative feeling. Since we live in the notchy notch area of NH, reading about the Barefoot Sisters’ adventures only made us want to go hiking. We traveled a short distance into Maine to hike the legendary notchiest of these notches: Mahoosuc Notch.Trails: Notch Trail to Mahoosuc Trail (AT) and reverse
Distance: 2.2 to start of Notch, ~0.75 through notch, reversed, total: ~ 5.9 miles
As usual, we got a late start, packing up lunches and filling water bottles around 11am. The drive into Success, NH this time of year is dusty as pick-up trucks zoom along the dirt road. If you drive slower, you can enjoy the butterflies and wildflowers on the sides of the road. There is plenty of parking at the Notch Trailhead (off of Shelter Brook Road), only one other car was there when we went. The 2.2 mile trail (the sign at the junction says its 2.5) is an easy grade and follows Shelter Brook most of the way. The trail is nicely constructed with log planks and curves around other wet spots. This is the easiest hike into the Notch.
You know you are at the start of the Mahoosuc Notch when you can feel the cool air. On a hot summer day, this is a great place to hike. The Notch Trail is easy enough and the cool air in the Notch is a welcome reward. Big boulders create large and small chasms, while sleek perpendicular walls jut up on either side of the trail. You can squeeze through cave openings and pop out on the other side, or you can take the high road and walk on top of these boulders. Several times along the trail you can choose your route.
We found ice in several caves and the mist drifting out of these caves was cool and moist. Moss, ferns, sweet laurel, and other moist loving plants thrive. Also many insects: flies, bees, dragonflies, and butterflies were easy to spot. We passed a couple heading out of the Notch and one AT hiker passed us when we took a long break atop a big boulder.