December 12, 2019
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Walk off cabin fever with these winter treks

Robert F. Bukaty | BDN
Robert F. Bukaty | BDN
A person snowshoes in Pownal.

Stabbing her hiking poles into the snow for purchase, she slowly climbed the steep slope of Blue Hill Mountain. Overhead, the sun shined brightly in the clear blue sky. Chickadees called out from the evergreen trees lining the trail. As she hiked, her body warmed quickly, prompting her to shed layers of winter clothing to stay comfortable. Off came her outer jacket, hat and mittens. She paused to stuff them in her pack, then continued up the trail.

In March, the days were noticeably getting longer and the sun stronger, but a fresh layer of snow had fallen the night before, reminding her that winter wasn’t over yet. Nevertheless, with all the time spent indoors over the past few months, she had been itching to get outside. In Maine, the tail end of winter often brings on a little cabin fever.

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At the summit, snow-covered open granite ledges. There she leaned against the concrete foundations of an old tower and enjoyed a wide open view of nearby ponds and hills and the ocean beyond. While she looked forward to the flowers and the fresh scent of spring, she had to admit that Maine’s long winter had a special beauty of its own.

Blue Hill Mountain in Blue Hill

Moderate

Rising 934 feet above sea level, Blue Hill Mountain isn’t particularly tall, but because it’s a monadnock, an isolated mountain in an essentially level area, it offers open views of the region from the bald ledges at its top.

Several trails climb the mountain. On the south side of the mountain are two trailheads: one for the 0.7-mile Hayes Trail and one for the 0.9-mile Osgood Trail. Both parking lots are plowed in the winter, and both trails lead to Larry’s Summit Loop trail at the top of the mountain. The trails are also connected by the 0.25-mile South Face Trail about halfway up the mountain. Branching off the Hayes Trail before that is the 0.7-mile Tower Service Road, which is a more gradual route up the mountain. These intersecting trails offer a number of loop hikes.

In addition, the 1.75-mile Becton Trail, the newest and most gradual trail on the mountain, travels down the north slope of the mountain. This trail is less traveled in the winter because the small parking area at its trailhead is not typically plowed.

The trails are steep and rocky in some areas, but they are well marked and maintained. Trail access is free. Dogs are permitted if kept on leash. To learn more, visit bluehillheritagetrust.org or call 207-374-5118.

Directions: Parking is available at the Osgood and Hayes trailheads on Mountain Road in Blue Hill. From the junction of Route 172 and Route 15 in Blue Hill, drive 0.9 mile on Route 15. Turn right onto Mountain Road. Drive 0.4 mile to the Osgood Trailhead, which is on the left side of the road. Park on the right side of the road. Or continue another 0.4 mile to the Hayes Trailhead, which is on the left side of the road. A small parking area is across from the trailhead on the right side of the road. Both parking areas are plowed during the winter. The Becton Trail parking area is not plowed during the winter.

Cameron Mountain in Lincolnville

Moderate

One of the smallest peaks in Camden Hills State Park, Cameron Mountain reaches just 811 feet above sea level. However, the top of this mountain is covered with blueberry barrens. The low-lying vegetation allows hikers to enjoy an unobstructed 360-degree view of the region from the mountain’s summit.

The hike to the summit of Cameron Mountain, out and back, is 5 miles, but much of the hike is on smooth, wide multi-use trails that slope uphill gradually. The steepest section of trail is the final 0.1-mile side trail that leads to the summit. You can lengthen the hike to about 7 miles round trip using Sky Blue Trail to form a loop.

Park admission varies from free to $6, depending on age and residency. Dogs are permitted if kept on a leash no longer than 4 feet at all times. For more information, call 207-236-0849 or visit maine.gov/camdenhills.

Directions: From the intersection of Route 1 and Route 173 in the town of Lincolnville, take Route 173 and drive 1.3 miles to an intersection. Continue straight on Route 173 (Beach Road) and drive another 0.9 mile, then turn left onto Youngtown Road. Drive just 200 feet, then turn left into the parking lot for the north entrance of Camden Hills State Park. A multi-use trail leaves this parking area. Start your hike on the multi-use trail, which you will follow for approximately 1.25 miles to Cameron Mountain Trail, which will be on your right.

Big Moose Mountain near Greenville

Challenging

Big Moose Mountain’s long ridge tops off at 3,196 feet above sea level, making it one of the biggest mountains in the Moosehead Lake Region. It also was home to the first full-time manned fire tower in the U.S. The tower no longer stands at the mountain’s summit, but its steel base was brought to the Moosehead Lake Region Visitors’ Center in Greenville in 2011, where it was restored and placed on display beside the busy road leading into Greenville.

A 2.1-mile hiking trail, marked with blue blazes, climbs steadily to the peak of Big Moose Mountain. The slope of the trail starts out gradual, then becomes increasingly steep, especially after the old fire warden’s cabin, which is located about 1.4 miles into the hike. At the top of the mountain, over the tops of hardy spruce trees, hikers are rewarded with breathtaking views in all directions.

Trail access is free. Dogs are permitted if kept under control at all times. For more information, the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands Western Public Lands Office at 207-778-8231 or visit maine.gov/littlemoose.

Directions: Follow Route 15-Route 6 into downtown Greenville. After passing The Big Apple on your right, then the Corner Shop on your left, turn left onto Pritham Avenue, and drive about 5 miles, then turn left onto North Road, which leads into the Little Moose Public Reserved Land unit. Follow North Road 1.4 mile to the Big Moose Mountain Trailhead parking lot, which will be on your left. Along the way, a couple of roads branch off North Road to the right. When in doubt, drive straight ahead.

This story was originally published in Bangor Metro’s March 2019 issue. To subscribe to the magazine, click here.



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