Goose Eye Mountain is located amongst some of the most scenic and uninhabited acreage of the state of Maine. Nestled in Grafton Notch State Park it is accessible from either Maine or New Hampshire, depending on how long of a hike you want to take. There are no easy trails to this summit, listed as one of the New England hundred highest. Its rocky prominent cone shaped summit makes it recognizable from other peaks in the area. This also accounts for the phenomenal 360-degree views you can see from the top of Goose Eye. Combining Goose Eye Trail, Mahoosuc Trail (Appalachian Trail) and the Carlo Col Trail makes for a long and interesting day hike of 7.6 miles, that begins off the Success Pond Trail in Berlin New Hampshire.
The Success Pond Road is an unpaved logging road that connects Berlin, New Hampshire to ME 26 north of the Old Speck trailhead in Grafton Notch State Park. The Maine portion of the road is very hard to find and should only be driven on with caution, it is an active logging area. From Berlin, NH the road is easier to find, it is also more traveled from this direction, so the road is wider and better maintained. To find the road leave NH 16, south of the city of Berlin and follow Unity Street across the Cleveland Bridge on the Androscoggin River. Unity street curves left through traffic lights, right across railroad tracks then left again before becoming Hutchins Street. There should be a sign on the left about 2 miles from the bridge that reads “OHRV PARKING 1 MILE” to the right of that is the Success Pond Road, sometimes there is also a road sign above the parking sign, if there is it is blue. The Success Pond Road is closed in winter, there is a yellow metal gate that can be opened and closed to bar traffic. Note this is a log-hauling road; it is frequently used by large, fast moving logging trucks so use caution and always give the truck the right of way.
Carlo Col and the Goose Eye trail share the same trailhead, an old section of logging road located 8.1 miles from the start of the Success Pond Road. There is a small white AMC sign that you can spot fairly easily. Parking is available on the left side of the road as well as further up the logging road.
This loop can be done either way Goose Eye to Carlo Col or vice versa. Generally I choose the higher summit as the first one to ascend in this situation so we climbed up Goose Eye first. In retrospect it was a good choice for the dogs because of reasons I had yet to discover.
The Goose Eye trail begins on an old logging road, it is pretty flat and easy to follow. The trail goes left down and embankment and continues to another logging road. There are several brooks. So water for the dogs was not an issue. At 1.4 miles it crossed the state line into Maine from New Hampshire, although we did not notice any markings, allegedly there is yellow blazing. The trail is moderate, and presented no problems for the dogs. It passes through areas of more recent clear-cuts where birch and beech trees dominated the landscape and climbs higher into evergreen and pine forests. For the majority of the trail, the gain is moderate, with a few uphill stretches that challenge the legs and lungs. As the summit is closer there is a bit of scrambling to gain it, but nothing that could not be done with some assistance from the hands. The Goose Eye summit is reached at 3.1 miles from the Success Pond Road and it is fantastic. There are amazing views of the entire Mahoosuc region, the Presidential Range, and far into both Maine and New Hampshire. It is really one of the more spectacular summits in the White Mountains. There are a few spots from the summit where a fall could be devastating, so keep the dogs close by and away from the edge.
“There are three sets of rungs to get down this part of the trail, pretty much one after the other. At each of these both of my dogs had to be lifted down.”
The Mahoosuc Trail (A.T) is located about .1 miles from the summit; follow this south for 1.8 miles to the junction with the Carlo Col Trail. This part of the hike is where the hidden challenges were for the dogs. Descending the Goose Eye we came across a ladder to assist people in a particularly steep section. My dogs have done these before and know how to go down the steep wooden stairs. They barrel down headfirst, however these are very steep, so use caution with your dogs. After the ladder there were some high ledges with metal rungs. Again, these are particularly useful for humans and not so much for dogs. There are three sets of rungs to get down this part of the trail, pretty much one after the other. At each of these both of my dogs had to be lifted down, and required the assistance of another person. We climbed down, I climbed on the bottom rung grabbed the dog and handed them to my friend who had solid footing on the ground (see video and pictures). This works, but it is not particularly safe, so be aware that these sections do exist on this loop, it does not mention them anywhere in the AMC guidebooks. Other than this section of the trail, and it is right at the beginning the Mahoosuc Trail is very pleasant, it crosses over a high boggy area with nice views of the valley. There are well-maintained boardwalk sections through the mud and it is easy to follow. There is also a nice view of Goose Eye behind that gives a nice perspective on how far mountain miles really are.
Mount Carlo is named for the dog of trail-building, pioneer Eugene B. Cook. He led some of the first expeditions of the Mahoosuc region. Mount Carlo has a wooded summit, but does offer some views of the Mahoosuc region. It is located right on the trail and signed with a USGS survey marker. The trail continues another .3 miles before intersecting with the Carlo Col Trail.
The Carlo Col Trail is made up of old logging roads and footpaths that cross numerous little brooks and streams. The Carlo Col campsite is located .3 miles from the Mahoosuc Trail and offers tent platforms, a nice shelter and a toilet. The shelter is .1 miles from the trail, so use caution if you want to find it. There are some signs located at the junction for the campsite. It is an easy trail to descend, the grades are moderate and it is well blazed with blue. A few of the streams may be difficult to negotiate at times of high water but other than that it is a very pleasant trail. After crossing the last brook from Carlo Col it rejoins the logging road for the last .3 miles of the hike. From the junction it is 2.7 miles back to the parking area on Success Pond Road.
Overall, this can be an amazing day hike in the scenic and wild Mahoosuc Region. Keep in mind that coming either up or down Goose Eye on the Mahoosuc Trail there are rungs and ladders that will present challenges for dogs and their owners. This section was the only part of the hike where the dogs needed some help; they thoroughly enjoyed the rest of it, especially playing in the numerous brooks and streams. I highly recommend this fun loop hike for anyone looking for a little adventure with his or her dog.
Distance from Success Pond Road to:
Goose Eye Summit 3.2 Miles
Mount Carlo Summit 4.7 Miles
Junction with Carlo Col Trail 5 Miles
Completed Loop Back to Car 7.6 Miles
Time 4.5-5.5 Hours