This story was originally published in April 2015.
You don’t always have to huff and puff for miles to reach a great view from the top of a mountain. In Maine, there are plenty of short hikes up small mountains and hills to vistas that may take you by surprise.
There are all sorts of reasons you might be drawn to these shorter mountain hikes. Maybe you’re trying to introduce a kid to hiking. Maybe you’re just a beginner hiker yourself. Or maybe, for whatever reason, you just aren’t cut out for the big mountains anymore. Whatever your reason for hiking small mountains — and believe me, you don’t actually need a reason — here are a few Maine trails you might enjoy:
At 317 feet above sea level, the summit of Pigeon Hill is one of the high points along the coast of Washington County. Located near the coast in Steuben, the hill is home to a 1.2-mile trail network maintained by the Downeast Coastal Conservancy. The trails lead to the top of the hill, which — with its bare bedrock and low-lying bushes — resembles the top of much taller mountains in Acadia National Park. On a clean day, hikers can see all the way to Petit Manan Light from the top of Pigeon Hill.
One of the lowest peaks in Acadia National Park, Flying Mountain still offers some great views of the Mount Desert Island and ocean. You can reach its summit, 284 feet above sea level, with a 0.6-mile out-and-back hike or 1.4-mile loop hike. Much of the trail to the top is gravel and log steps, but just before reaching the peak, you’ll travel over exposed ledges with great views of Somes Sound, Southwest Harbor, Northeast Harbor and islands to the north, including the Cranberries. The summit is marked with a wooden summit sign in a pile of rocks.
Located in the small town of Rome in central Maine, Mount Phillip rises 755 feet above sea level. The trail on the mountain is a 1.3-mile loop and is maintained by the Belgrade Regional Alliance. Hiked in either direction, the loop trail climbs the mountain gradually through a forest of maple, birch, oak, white pine and hemlocks to ledges near the summit that offer good views of Great Pond and the Kennebec Highlands.
Located on a 295-acre preserve in Rockport, Beech Hill is covered with wild blueberries and is one of the official stops of the Maine Birding Trail, with more than 125 species on its checklist. A 0.75-mile trail leads gradually to the hill’s top and a historic stone building called Beech Nut. Beech Hill is the only bald hilltop in the area and offers views of Penobscot Bay, the Camden Hills and Saint George Peninsula.
Not far from eastern Maine blueberry fields, Baker Hill rises a few hundred feet above sea level in the coastal town of Sullivan. The trails on the hill lead through a mossy forest filled with boulder to outlooks near the top. The trails are short — less than 0.5 mile long each — and travel over a few steep areas. The Frenchman Bay Conservancy maintains these trails, as well as a network of trails in the neighboring Long Ledges Preserve.
At nearly 500 feet above sea level, the top of Bradbury Mountain is one of the top destinations in Bradbury Mountain State Park in Freeport. It’s a quick hike; from the parking lot, it’s just 0.3 mile by trail to the top of the mountain, which offers a great view of the region and is a place frequented by bird watchers and picnickers. If looking for a longer hike, the park is home to a vast trail network, and all of the trails are marked with different color blazes to make navigation easier.
This mountain in Brooksville reaches just 250 feet above sea level, but ledges near its top offer great views of the area. The interconnecting trails on the property, maintained by the Blue Hill Heritage Trust, total about 1 mile. The trail that leads to the summit is steep in some places.
This hill is located on conservation land owned and maintained by the Orono Land Trust. The property is one of several conservation lands that makes up the Caribou Bog Conservation Area in Orono. A 2-mile loop hike leads to the top of the hill, which is rocky and provides a view of Pushaw Lake. The trail travels through a variety of terrain, including open fields, along ponds and through stands of oak and pine.
Rising just over 800 feet above sea level, Haystack Mountain in Liberty has long been a favorite hiking destination for people in the area. Blueberry fields at the top of the mountain offer wide open views of the surrounding forests, farmland and distant hills. The loop trail leading to the mountain’s top is only about 1 mile in length. Footing can be tricky in some areas of the trail because of exposed tree roots and rocks. The slope is fairly steep in a few areas.
The most difficult hike on this list, Blue Hill Mountain has long been a hiking destination for families. Located in the town of Blue Hill, this mountain rises 934 feet above sea level; its bald summit provides open views of the region. The 1.75-mile Becton Trail, which opened summer of 2013, gradually climbs to the top of the mountain. The shorter Hayes and Osgood trails also climb to the summit. These trails are older and steeper than the Becton Trail.
Rising about 800 feet above sea level in Camden Hills State Park, Mount Battie offers one of the most beautiful views of the Maine coast. At the summit stands a stone tower that was dedicated in 1921 by the Mount Battie Association as an enduring memorial to the men and women of Camden who served in World War I. Pulitzer Prize winner Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950), born in Rockland, often wrote poetry while sitting on the summit. You can climb the mountain on a moderately challenging hiking trail, 0.5 miles up the mountain’s south side, or you can actually reach the top of the mountain by vehicle via Mount Battie Road. Or you can park at the bottom of the hill on Mount Battie Road and hike up the 1.5-mile Tablelands Trail, which reconnects with Mount Battie Road just before the summit.