NH Family Hikes

East and West Royce

Length: 6.4 miles out-and-back

Difficulty (click for info): Hard

Elevation Gain: 2450 feet (-150 feet)

Rating (click for info): 7/10

Elevation: 3203' (West) and 3110' (East)

Prominence: 1330' (West) and 501' (East)

Driving Directions:
Trailhead and parking area are on Maine Route 113 in Batchelder's Grant, ME. Note: because of the confusion which can arise from two different Rt. 113's (NH 113 and ME 113) being so close to each other, we have given directions for this particular hike from Conway. From the junction of NH 16 and NH 113 in Conway, drive east on NH 113. In 2.0 miles, Rt. 302 joins from the left; continue straight on Rt. 302/113. In 4.7 miles, NH 113 ends, and the road, now only Rt. 302, crosses the Maine border. In 1.1 miles from the border (5.8 miles from jct. 302/113), turn left onto ME 113 (River Street). Drive 1.2 miles (crossing back into NH), then turn right to stay on ME 113, now East Conway Road. In another mile, turn right again to stay on ME 113, now called West Fryeburg Road, crossing back into Maine. In 4.4 miles, turn right one more time to stay on ME 113 where NH 113B continues ahead. In another 3.1 miles, NH 113B enters from the left, the name of the road changes to Main Road, and it crosses the state line back into NH. Continue 7.9 miles, passing several other trailheads and crossing the state line back into Maine. The road narrows and climbs steeply to its highest point on the east wall of the notch, where there is a scenic overlook. The parking area is located on the left after this, when the road descends to the actual notch.

About the Hike:
Technically being in Maine should not discourage New Hampshire hikers from checking out the fabulous ledges on this rugged peak in the Evans Notch region. Its relative, West Royce, was a former 52 with-a-view before the 2020 revision, but was and is still greatly inferior in scenic beauty to East Royce. Maine's East Royce will please those looking for a more succinct day hike. It offers a majestic view to the south of the other peaks of the Baldface Range, of which it can be considered the northernmost major peak. Hiking to the Royces is not one of the region's longest or hardest treks, but it will certainly give you a breathless, tiring climb. For those hopelessly obsessed with seeing every possible view, we now describe the trek to both Royces. The trail begins at the highpoint of Evans Notch, the least developed major-road-acessible mountain pass in the White Mountains. The trail sets off into the forest, crossing a minor stream named Evans Brook and immediately ramps up the steep wall leading out of the notch. As the trail swings to the left to angle across the slope, it crosses a different tiny brook at a ledgy area above a fine cascade (this minuscule waterway will eventually become the Cold River). There is not a good view of the waterfall from here, but it is worth the slight effort to walk down off the trail to the base of the tumbling cascade.

From here, the trail begins its ascent of a northeast ridge which protrudes from the mountain's southern shoulder. The trail's upper section comes fairly close (not within sight) of the incredibly steep slope plummeting down into the drainage south of the Evans Notch highpoint, which you drove across from if you came from the south. In the bottom section of the climb, the trail crosses many small and seasonal streams; closer to the top, it becomes steeper and switchbacks through darker, coniferous woods. After a mile of relentless climbing, the trail begins to level out and reaches a junction with Royce Connector. This trail is used to access the Royce Trail; you will use it after visiting East Royce. To continue to East Royce, turn right to stay on East Royce Trail and quickly resume the rugged ascent over roots and rocks. This is the steepest part of the ascent. After 0.3 miles and several tricky rock scrambles, the trail climbs up a sloping ledge with the first view. This ledge views east to Speckled Mountain in the Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness. Continue climbing alongside and over more ledges for 0.2 miles to a large open area marked by a trail sign. Here, just across the plateau from the true summit, you will find a wild, rugged vista. The flat expanse, spotted with lakes, sprawls endlessly to the east beyond Speckled Mountain. To the south, you gaze down the impressive Baldface Range, starting with West Royce and its striking cliff face. The Baldface Range rolls down to the west into the extensive Wild River valley, mostly hidden by the peaks. The massive Carter Range rises across in the distance.

To continue to West Royce, return down the ledgy path to the junction with Royce connector and follow this gentle path across a ledgy area with minimal views. When you reach the Royce Trail after 0.2 miles, turn right and follow this trail as it gradually descends across a wet, dark south shoulder of the Royces. Several muddy areas are spanned by bog bridges. At an unknown point along this section, the trail crosses the Maine-New Hampshire state line. After passing a view through the trees ahead to the menacing cliff face of West Royce, the trail swings right and climbs imperceptibly to the col between the Royces. It crosses the col, and starts descending again. When you reach the junction with Burnt Mill Brook Trail, 0.7 miles from the Royce Connector, turn left to stay on Royce Trail. It immediately takes on the steep slope at the north end of the summit ridge. It gains the ridge crest with a few steep switchbacks and follows the ridge top, the grade slowly easing as it goes. There are a few rock scrambles in the forest along the ridge before the trail emerges on open ledges with restricted views. It meanders through the firs up to the summit sign. Immediately before the summit, you see the best view among the ledges. Through the trees, there is a modest vista to the northeast. You see the Speckled Mountain area in Maine, as well as a few distant peaks behind East Royce. The view is best seen standing.

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