A loop Via: Royce Trail, Royce Connector Trail, Basin Rim Trail and Basin Trail
Approximately 9.6 miles Round Trip
West Royce Mountain (3,210) is located just west of the Maine/ New Hampshire line in Evan’s Notch. This hike will take you across state lines, although they are not marked. The trail is located entirely in the White Mountain National Forest, but it does back up against the Dry River Wilderness to the north. West Royce is listed on the 52 with a view list for New Hampshire mountains, the summit of East Royce also boasts views but is located in Maine, so is not included in the list. The Royce Mountain Trail is located on ME 113 across the road from the historic site Brickett Place; just north of the White Mountain National Forest Cold River Campground. There are restrooms located at the historic home and a WMNF parking pass or day use fee (US 3$) is required to park there.
Starting off on what was clearly an old road, the Royce Trail gently follows the Cold River, crossing it at miles .3, .7 and 1.4. During spring and times of high water these crossings may be difficult, but there are stepping-stones across both of them that were easy to negotiate, albeit a bit slippery. After the final crossing Mad River Falls can be viewed down a side path about 25 yards to the left. At this point the Royce Trail becomes rougher and very steep, as it rises under the ledges of East Royce. The Laughing Lion trail junction is reached at 2.7 miles and a very steep .2 miles will lead you up to the saddle between East and West Royce at the Royce Connector Trail.
To climb East Royce walk, .2 miles to the right and then .5 to attain the summit from the Royce connector trail. For West Royce bear left and continue down the Royce Trail for .7 miles where the Basin Rim and Burnt Mill junction is met. This junction is also close to the state line between Maine and New Hampshire, although there was no visible indication of such. Taking the Basin Rim Trail you continue over relatively easy grades and some switchbacks over the ledges where it passes two overlooks and the summit of West Royce. The view from the summit is mostly to the east overlooking Maine and East Royce’s rocky ledges. The views to the North and West are obscured through stunted spruce trees, but do peek out from time to time. There is a cairn marking the summit but there are better views from the scattered outposts near the top.
Descending the summit, continue to follow the Basin Rim Trail for 2.5 miles over mostly easy grades down to the junction with the Basin Trail. Here the trail descends steeply and quickly along the ledges. While the trail is rough the footing is good and on dry days it should provide no trouble for a hiker of experience. Once Hermit Falls is reached, a pleasant short loop will bring you down quickly to the base of these small falls and then back on the Basin Trail. From this point most of the steep sections have been completed. The trail goes around the Basin pond, a very pleasant looking water-body and ends at the Cold River Campground. A short .3 mile walk on the dirt road back to NH 113 through the campground and then another .3 on 113 will lead you back to Brickett Place. Take caution on the road 113 is a very narrow and curvy road; there are no sidewalks or much in the way of a shoulder for pedestrians.
Over all West Royce is a pleasant day hike that is moderate but not overly difficult. The dogs enjoyed the water in the lower sections of the trail and there were no ledges or boulders that made traveling for them challenging. There are two notes of caution I would take into consideration with regards to this loop; one of course is the road 113. Although you are not walking it for a significant period of time, it can be particularly worrying, especially in the summer. So bring leashes for this part and for the campground area. The campground sneaks up on you through the trees, and there will likely be other dogs there. Lastly the availability of water on the lower sections of trail was plentiful but once the ridgeline was attained, became scarce. Bring extra, this ridge is not entirely exposed so storms are not of major concern but on a hot day you will want extra water and so will your dog.