Table Rock is a short, steep hike to a ledge that hangs out over the east side of Grafton Notch. The hike is a 2.2 miles loop with 982 feet of climbing. Here’s the annotated mile by mile description:
0.0 From the parking area in Grafton Notch, cross ME26 and head up the northbound Appalachian Trail. The trail crosses a wet area on boardwalks that’s the headwaters of Swift Cambridge River.
0.1 Bear right onto Table Rock Trail. The trail begins to climb almost immediately. There are lots of steps but not views yet. Even though the trail quickly tops cliffs and bedrock, you’re still in the dense hardwood forest.
0.7 Reach the first overlook atop a spine of exposed bedrock.
0.8 A short side trail leads to an overlook known as the Drop Off. It’s a long way straight down from the viewpoint. You have a great view out the notch and of Old Speck across the way.
0.9 The trail climbs a set of rungs and makes a hard right, passing under a boulder. Instead of following the trail, climb straight ahead. When you climb up the rock in front of you, you’ll be standing atop the entrance to the cave. You can also climb more and get a view straight up at Table Rock.
I spent my twenties and thirties caving in Kentucky, Indiana, and West Virginia. This is nothing like the limestone solutional caves there. This cave is really just gaps beneath a loose pile of bedrock slabs. Still, it’s the largest cave I’ve seen in Maine. It’s not as deep and closed up as Debsconeag Ice Caves, but pretty cool nonetheless.
After exploring the cave, follow the trail under the boulder to the base of a high cliff. Look up and note the narrow fin of rock sticking out. You can look down from Table Rock and see this feature, giving you some perspective on the mountainside.
1.0 The trail drops down along the edge of the cliffs, then climbs to a junction. To the right is the continuation of Table Rock Trail. To the left, in 100 feet is Table Rock.
1.5 To get back to the trailhead continue north on Table Rock Trail. The trial descends down a rock using rungs then is fairly level and straight to the Appalachian Trail. Turn left.
2.2 Arrive back at the trailhead. Now all you need to do is visit Puzzle Mountain Bakery on your way home.