The trail is easy to find, and it’s free. Park the car in the designated parking lot at the entrance to the Grand Etang visitor center.
Start walking away from the visitor center entrance gate and you will see the trail across the road on the right side.
The trail starts as an easy stroll with a gentle ascent. After 5 minutes or so, you will see concrete steps leading to the late viewpoint. This worthwhile detour should take about 10 minutes up the stairs. The view of the lake from the wooden platform is decent but you will have better views from the Qua Qua trail later on.
Once back on the trail, continue on for about an hour. Note that the trail may be extremely muddy, so plan accordingly. I had to dig out a shoe after stepping into a muddy spot. The good news is that upon return, after you pay your entrance fee to access the visitor center, you will be able to wash off most of the mud (water and brushes are located to the left of the restrooms).
One more nuisance – thorny vines, which WILL cut your legs unless you wear long pants. I was wearing shorts and still regret this, nearly a month later, due to a deep, nasty cut to the right leg.
So, after approximately an hour on the trail, it opens up to fantastic views on both sides and becomes a true ***** hike; the views only get better as the trail gets steeper.
After you go past a sign to Concord Falls on the left, continue straight and after 10 minutes or so you should reach a large boulder on the right. This the end of the trail. You can now enjoy the views of the Northern part, the Western side, and the lake, even though I found lake views to be the best right after the steep ascent that follows the spot where the trail finally opened up to any views.
The entire hike up the trail should take about 1.5-2 hours, including photo-ops. It may take less on the way back (I made it in one hour).
One note: if it rains, I’d skip this hike altogether – you won’t see anything and will be covered in mud up to the neck.
P.S. I was a sole hiker on that trail for the entire duration, as my wife and kid were feeding bananas to the Mona monkeys, which chose to show up at the parking lot. I would not recommend the hike to families or young children.
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