Difficulty: Moderate. The trail leading up Tucker Mountain in Sullivan is about 0.5 mile long and fairly steep much of the way. Some sections of the trail are rocky and filled with exposed tree roots, making footing tricky.
Information: Located near the shore of Sullivan, Tucker Mountain tops off around 400 feet above sea level and features an open ledge with views of the mountains of nearby Acadia National Park. The Frenchman Bay Conservancy owns a 121-acre easement on the mountain, where the land trust maintains a 0.5-mile hiking trail to the summit.
The hike starts at Long Cove Rest Area, which is a stop on the Schoodic National Scenic Byway. The rest area features a small parking area off Route 1, as well as picnic tables, a restroom, interpretive displays, a small lawn and a footpath leading down to a rocky beach.
From the rest stop, carefully cross busy Route 1 to find Old Route One, which is an abandoned paved road that’s slowly being taken over by the wilderness. Walk up Old Route One for just under 0.1 mile and the hiking trail will be marked with a small, blue Frenchman Bay Conservancy sign on your left, as well as an orange arrow. Follow the trail uphill and you’ll soon reach a wooden trail register cubby. You can sign in there to help the land trust keep track of who is visiting the property.
From there the trail continues up the mountain, past large white pine trees and stands of white cedars. Small diamond-shaped signs mark the trail. Some are blue with the Frenchman Bay Conservancy logo while others are orange or yellow with black arrows.
From left (clockwise): The hiking trail up Tucker Mountain in Sullivan passes by a small waterfall; Snow melts from an expanse of crunchy lichen on Tucker Mountain on March 24, in Sullivan; Some sections of the trail up Tucker Mountain in Sullivan are especially rocky. Credit: Aislinn Sarnacki | BDN
About 0.1 mile from the register cubby, the trail passes a small waterfall. This section of the forest is especially scenic, with an abundance of moss, boulders, ferns and tall evergreen trees. The forest is also home to a wide variety of lichens, including beds of pale green, fluffy-looking reindeer lichen.
As you near the top of the mountain, you’ll find more exposed bedrock and lichen. About 0.4 mile into the hike, the trail reaches a ledge of exposed bedrock that’s just below the summit. This is the only major viewpoint of the hike. Walk to the uppermost part of the exposed bedrock and you’ll be able to see over the trees to the ocean and the mountains of Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island.
From there, the trail follows an ATV track to the wooded summit of the mountain, which is less than 0.1 mile further. The summit is easy to miss. It’s to the left of the trail, marked with a large stone pile (also known as a cairn). A narrow footpath leads through some underbrush to reach it. Beside the stone pile is a metal Geodetic Survey marker embedded in the bedrock.
If you continue down the ATV trail just a bit further you’ll find a picnic table set up on a hump of exposed bedrock, where another Geodetic Survey marker is located. You can take a break there, then turn around and hike back down the same way you came for a total distance of about 1 mile.
Stay on the marked trail. Respect the privacy of the land’s owners. Hunting is not permitted. The hiking trail is for foot traffic only. Dogs are permitted but must be under control at all times. Pick up after yourself, including your dog’s waste.
For more information and trail map, visit frenchmanbay.org or call 207-422-2328.
Personal note: I selected Tucker Mountain for my puppy Juno’s first mountain hike because I knew the trail was short — and at 6 months old, she’s not ready for a super long hike yet. Yet the mountain featured plenty of new challenges for her, such as jumbles of rocks and steep slopes. It turned out to be a good choice. She navigated the terrain easily, but by the time she got home, she was ready for a long nap.
I also think Tucker would be a nice hike for children who are starting to explore mountains — under the supervision of adults, of course. It’s a great indicator of whether or not you’d be happy hiking other, larger mountains in the area, such as Tunk, Schoodic, Black and Caribou.
One thing that really stood out to me about the trail on March 24 was the abundance of lichen lining it, especially up near the top of the mountain. The hike also marked the first time I saw a butterfly this year. Near the top of the mountain, we spotted at least three mourning cloak butterflies, which are large and have mostly dark wings. I think their wings look dark brown, but others have described them as deep maroon. Along the edges of their wings is a black band containing blue spots, followed by a yellow band, right at the edge. They’re one of the first butterflies I see in the spring in Maine.
While taking a break at the overlook near the summit, I noticed that a bunch of crows were raising a racket, and I wondered if there might be a large bird such as a hawk or eagle nearby that they were pestering. (I’ve seen crows bother larger birds many times. I have no idea why they do that.) So I started scanning the top of the trees around us, and to my surprise, my hypothesis was correct. Sitting atop a tall spruce tree to our right was a majestic bald eagle. Barely containing my excitement, I switched the lenses on my camera and snapped a few photos as I hid behind some evergreen boughs.
But that wasn’t our last bald eagle experience for the day. When we reached the summit, the distinctive high-pitched chattering of a bald eagle drew our attention to the sky. There we spotted four eagles wheeling around each other, having some sort of conversation. Squinting in the sun, we watched them until they disappeared beyond the treetops.
How to get there: From the Sullivan side of the Hancock-Sullivan Bridge on coastal Route 1, drive 2.6 miles and park at the Long Cove Rest Area, which will be on your right. The hike starts on Old Route One, an abandoned road that’s across Route 1 from the rest area (and slightly to the northwest).
Aislinn Sarnacki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @1minhikegirl, and Instagram: @actoutdoors. Her guidebooks “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine,” “Maine Hikes Off the Beaten Path” and “Dog-Friendly Hikes in Maine” are available at local bookstores and wherever books are sold.