Grafton Notch State Park. Route 26 runs through this park, which stretches along the Bear River Valley 14 mi north of Bethel and is a favorite foliage drive. It's an easy walk from the roadside parking areas to Mother Walker Falls, Moose Cave, and the spectacular Screw Auger Falls. You can also hike to the summit of Old Speck Mountain, the state's third-highest peak. If you have the stamina, the equipment, and several days, you can pick up the Appalachian Trail here, hike over Saddleback Mountain, and continue on to Mt. Katahdin. The Appalachian Trailhead parking lot is cleared in the winter for snowshoers and cross-country skiers who use the snowmobile trail along Route 26 through the park (no staff in winter). Rte. 26, Newry, ME. 207/824-2912 mid-May-mid-Oct.; 207/624-6080. www.parksandlands.com. Daily, 9-sunset (no staff mid-Oct.-mid-May).
Maine Appalachian Trail Club. The Maine Appalachian Trail Club publishes seven Appalachian Trail maps and a Maine trail guide. Box 283, 04332, Augusta, ME. www.matc.org.
White Mountain National Forest. This forest straddles New Hampshire and Maine, with the highest peaks on the New Hampshire side. The Maine section, though smaller, has magnificent rugged terrain, camping and picnic areas, and hiking, from hour-long nature loops to a day hike up Speckled Mountain. The mountain is part of the 11,000-acre Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness Area, one of several in the forest, but the only one entirely within Maine. The most popular Maine access to the forest is Route 113 from its intersection with U.S. 2 in Gilead, 10 miles from downtown Bethel. Most of the highway is the Maine Pequawket Trail Scenic Byway, and the section through the forest is spectacular come fall. This forest road is closed in winter but is used by snowmobilers and cross-country skiers. The first few miles of Route 113 from U.S. 2 are plowed (park along road or in parking area). Route 113, turn off U.S. 2, Gilead, ME, 04217. 603/466-2713. www.fs.fed.us/r9/white. Day pass $3 per car, week pass $5 per car.
New Hampshire Visitor Center. The New Hampshire Visitor Center, within the White Mountain National Forest, has interactive exhibits for kids and displays on the forest's history and natural setting. Androscoggin Ranger Station Visitor Center, 300 Glen Rd., (Rte. 16), Gorham, 03581. Late May-mid-Oct., daily 8-4:30; late Oct.-mid-May, weekdays 8-4:30.
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