Happy Feat

"I've turned around on hikes before. I've turned around on Katahdin twice," Jacobi said. "It is hard to do it on vacation, or if you only have a few days. The pressure is there to bag that summit. I've felt it, too. And a lot of people get away with it (in bad conditions), but every once in a while you read about the others."

Table Rock Reward

All those who have worked toward a rewarding hike and taken care of the preparation deserve that view.

At Grafton Notch State Park just north of Bethel, it awaits. Table Rock, at 900 feet, offers mountainous scenery, a place to lunch, and gorgeous granite everywhere. As one of the most popular spots on the Appalachian Trail, this hike is one to aspire to because it is relatively short (about two hours) and definitely worth the work.

"It is the most heavily used trail in the park. It's a beautiful hike. On the weekends, it gets quite busy," said Jon Metcalf, Grafton Notch State Park director.

And park rangers here actually welcome more use on this trail, something you don't hear often.

"Overuse is always a concern. The trail is in good condition. It's made for the use it gets," Metcalf said. "We love to have people. It's a very good trail for everybody."

Recent work done on the trails by the Maine Conservation Corps has improved the stone stairs and bridges so the trail can handle more use this summer without fear of erosion, Metcalf said.

Be warned: the hike is steep and strenuous. But it also offers two options to reach the scenic plateau. There is the steeper, orange-blazed trail that leads away from the white blazed path; and a blue-blazed footpath, which comes after the orange trail, and is safer. This second is the trail recommended for families and small children.

Either way you go, Metcalf stressed that adults watch children everywhere in Grafton Notch State Park. Waterfalls and plateaus abound here, as do drop-offs and crevices.

And remarkably, the gear that should be second-nature to hikers attempting a 1,000-foot climb gets forgotten here all the time, he said.

"We do have accidents from time to time," Metcalf said. "We really ask people to wear the appropriate footwear. We see lots of sneakers, and slippers, and flip-flops. We see all sorts of things. And it is dangerous."

Hiking Resources

You can find other hikes around Maine:

The Maine Outdoor Adventure Club has trail reviews with entries on hikes throughout Maine and New Hampshire. www.moac.org

For Maine's 3,500-foot peaks, go to www.peakbagger.com

Look for Maine State Parks through the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands archives, at www.maine.gov/

Basic Gear and Requirements

There is not much a beginner hiker needs, but all the basic gear is essential.

  • Proper hiking boots with treads
  • Water and a snack
  • A map of the trail
  • A compass
  • A jacket if the weather turns bad
  • A sack or bag to put on your back or hips.

Also, all parks have rules posted. Read and follow them, to protect you and the environment.

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at: dfleming@pressherald.com

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