North and east of Mt. Washington, the Appalachian Trail runs through one of its toughest sections, rambling through Mahoosuc Notch into Maine, then passing through Grafton Notch State Park. There are no real roads anywhere near here, so drivers wanting a quick taste of this impenetrable country will have to join US-2 for the drive through Gorham, New Hampshire, and Bethel, Maine, then wind along the Bear River on scenic Route 26. Beyond Grafton Notch, the hikers’ Appalachian Trail passes through ever more extensive wilderness, with fewer services (and many more mosquitoes and black flies!) the closer you get to the trail’s northern finish, atop Mt. Katahdin.

Though the hiking trail and the nearest roads are like strands of a double helix, both routes take you through some memorable country, especially around Rangeley Lakes and Moosehead Lake, in the deep Maine woods.