Trail: Table Rock
Location: Grafton Notch State Park
Difficulty: Low or Moderate (depending on path taken)
GPS Track w/ Waypoints: Table Top
Geocaches in the area: GC1DMQ, GC1D2XD, GC1BMNX, GC906D, GC1BMNE, GCG75C
Table Rock is a fairly short (2.2 miles) loop trail in the middle of the Grafton Notch State Park. The parking for the Table Top trail (WP Parking Lot – Trail Head) also provides access to the Appalachian trail and trails to Old Speck. Grafton Notch State Park is a self pay park so don’t forget to grab a park pass at the trail information bulletin board. The trail head has bathroom access and weather forecast handouts. There is also a journal if you want to log your trip.
The trail is across the road from the parking lot. RT 26 is a busy road especially during the summer so care should be taken when kids are crossing the road. Logging trucks often come around the corner just north of the trail with a good amount of speed due to the decline of the road. The initial part of the trail after making the road crossing is often wet and muddy but the trail maintenance personal have installed a double beam walkways over most of the wet sections. During the spring months often there is freestanding water or mud that will need to be navigated. Other then a brook crossing (that has a small bridge) this section of the trail is of even terrain.
When you reach WP Trail Intersection there are two different paths that you can take. If the left section of the trail is taken you will be following part of the Appalachian Trail. This trail loops to the north and comes up the back side of the peak. This section of the trail has a gentle incline and often wooden planks or beams provide trail paths over rough or wet areas. The trail to the right is the path that we are taking today. Almost immediately the trail difficulty will increase. The trail is clearly marked with orange blazes during this part of the trail. As the trail branches off to the south the grade of the trail will increase mark ability. From the intersection at WP Intersection until the peak the trail is going to be difficult for younger kids, in some locations it will be dangerous for them. Those using kid carriers like I was will find some of the terrain quite interesting. There was a few spots that required some interesting contortions to fit the kid carrier over or through boulders.
As the trail approaches WP Caves the terrain of the trail is going to increase again in difficulty. Both the steepness of the trail and the collection of rocks that have fallen from the cliff face will make for the good challenge. When you arrive at some of the larger obstacles at WP Caves there is a few small bypasses that will allow you to avoid one of the more difficult scramble over the boulders. If hiking without little ones then there is an unofficial branch of the trail that will take you up the face of the Table. After passing WP Caves the trail will dip a little and loop around the face of the cliff. The trail will climb up through a small break in the mountain side. During inclement weather this section can be very slick and it can be a very long slide down to the bottom. As you come up summit via the small ravine the top of the mountain will be off to your left. The top of Table rock has a very broad summit that looks over to Old Speck. You will be able to view RT 26 running through the valley between the two mountains. The front of the cliff has a very abrupt drop off so keep an eye on the little ones. Especially the sidekicks that have no fear.
After leaving the top of Table Rock you can return to the trailhead via the same pathway that you ascended the mountain or take the much easier path. If you decide to take the easier path from WP Table Top Rock head towards WP Appalachian Trail Intersection the first initial few hundred yards can be tricky but at the steepest section there is a ladder made out of iron rungs hammered into the face of the boulder. The rest of the trail from this point is a relaxing hike. There are a few creek crossings that can be dangerous in the spring or when there has been rainfall.