AMC Outdoors, January/February 2002
Remote and wild is the land that straddles the Maine-New Hampshire border along the mighty Androscoggin River. This is serious moose and logging country. Goose Eye Mountain is part of the Mahoosuc Range, also home to Old Speck. One of the 100 highest in New England, Goose Eye’s seemingly triangular summit at 3,870 feet provides scenic, panoramic views between the two states. The Maine side of the range appears more isolated than the New Hampshire side, where lumber company roads feed into the remote areas.
Access to the Goose Eye Trail is from the New Hampshire side along a dirt road. The trail, maintained by AMC, passes through paper-company land, but there are no permits needed to travel through. The only requirement is to pack out what you pack in.
Though the Goose Eye trip begins in New Hampshire, it crosses into Maine, where you’ll see some of the finest views in the range. From the lofty Goose Eye summit, you can see across to Grafton Notch and Old Speck. The slopes of the Sunday River Ski Area are in the distance. From the summit of Goose Eye, you can get a bird’s-eye view of the mountain’s east peak just below.
Most of the trail threads through the woods and is sheltered from the wind. But that changes on the summit. As you’d do whenever traveling above treeline, take extra caution here (along with crampons, ice axes, ski poles, etc.). Depending on the snowpack, the final 100 yards of this trek to the summit can be difficult. The same holds true on the descent. And keep your eyes peeled for moose along the way. They aren’t strangers to this area.
At about 1.4 miles into the 3.2-mile summit trek on the Goose Eye Trail, you’ll cross into Maine. Chances are the yellow-blazed stone marker at this point will be covered in snow. Of late, there has also been a sign posted to a tree to welcome winter walkers to the Mahoosuc Range and remind them that the trail passes through paper-company land. Once in Maine, the trail toughens up and starts climbing a moderate grade through the hardwoods. It slabs along the south side of a ridge and climbs again — more steeply — before leveling out for a spell at about the 2.6-mile mark. The last half-mile is a combination of moderate and steep pitches with the final 100 yards or so punctuated with ledges that could be slick. Use caution as you head back down and leave treeline behind again.
How to get there: From Route 16 in Berlin, NH, turn right over the James Cleveland Bridge. After the bridge, the road becomes Unity Street and bears left. Stay straight through several traffic lights. Unity crosses train tracks and becomes Hutchins Street. At about two miles from Route 16, turn right on the unmarked Success Pond Road. There is a brown sign that reads “OHRV Parking 1 Mile.” The remote Success Pond Road is dirt and best suited for four-wheel drive vehicles; beware of logging trucks. Follow it 8.3 miles. The Goose Eye trailhead is on the right.