Top 5 Maine Mountain Hikes

  1. Borestone 1,981 feet – Elliotsville – Base Trail à Summit Trail 3.6 miles Round-trip, approximately 2 hours

Difficulty:  Novice/Moderate (kid friendly)

Base trail brings you from the parking area to the Visitor Center.  There is a lookout point along this trail and it also crosses the access road which can make for an even more leisurely, though slightly longer, stroll.  From the Visitor Center, Summit trail goes along the south side of the pond and then begins to climb steeply into the woods.  There are more than 100 stone stairs to climb so get ready for a workout!  You reach West Peak first climbing along exposed ledge, then it is a short ascent to East Peak; the summit of Borestone.  There are additional trails starting at the Visitor Center that provide scenic views, a picnic area, and the potential to see wildlife.  Also check out near-by Little Wilson Falls and Gorge to take a dip to cool off after your hike.

  1. Speckled Mountain 2,887 feet – Stoneham/Stowe – Bickford Brook Trail à Blueberry Ridge Trail à Bickford Brook 8.2 miles round-trip, approximately 5 hours

Difficulty: Moderate [Up and down Bickford Brook Trail:  Novice (kid friendly)]

Bickford Brook Trail is an easy hike to the summit with limited views.  You can branch off to take Blueberry Ridge up for boarder views of the Presidential mountains of New Hampshire.  This trail also takes you passed Bickford Slide which is a refreshing swimming hole.  Look for delicious blueberries and enjoy scrambling up open rock faces.  Checkout the remains of the fire tower at the top.

  1. Tumbledown 02Tumbledown 3,090 feet – Township 6 north of Weld – Brook Trail à Tumbledown Ridge à Loop Trail 4.1 miles round-trip, approximately 4 hours

Please Note: A lot of people preferred to reverse this route

Difficulty:  Moderate

Brook Trail begins as a wooded trail along a dirt road and after about a mile it ascends more steeply and brings you to a clearing and Tumbledown Pond.  The pond is surrounded by the three peaks of Tumbledown:  North, East, and West.  It is not uncommon to see moose, deer, assorted birds, and other wildlife at the pond.  Continuing toward East Peak on the Tumbledown Ridge Trail you will follow open rock face and get wonderful views of the surrounding hills and mountains.  You will then descend into a saddle where you can head down Loop Trail.  At this point you can continue on the ridge trail for about .25 miles to summit West Peak.  The descent on Loop Trail is steep but fun.  “Fat Man’s Misery” is an area where the trail actually goes through a crevasse between boulders using metal rungs.  Packs may need to be handed through, as it is a tight squeeze.  Make sure to take breaks and turn around to see where you’ve been, it is pretty impressive.  Next up is Great Ledges, this offers wonderful views of the 700 foot south facing cliff, and it’s also a great place for a breather.  When you reach Tumbledown Boulder, a giant boulder that tumbled down the mountain, you are on the home stretch.  There is a brief walk on the road to get back to the Brook Trail parking area.

  1. The Beehive 520 feet – Acadia National Park –1.9 round-trip, approximately 1.5 hours

Difficulty:  Moderate/Advanced

This trail is short and the views are as sweet as honey but it is a strenuous hike.  The beginning of the trail is wooded but quickly turns to ledges and cliffs which require climbing iron rungs and ladders to the summit.  If you have a fear of heights this hike is NOT for you, unless you want to overcome that fear through submersion therapy.  The 360 degree views from the top are spectacular; Sand Beach, Cadillac Mountain, and the Cranberry Islands are all within view; you might even spot a whale!  Going down the ledges of the Beehive is not advised so continue on the loop back to Park Loop Road or continue to Bowl Trail for a longer hike.

  1. Katahdin 5,280 feet – My preferred route: Chimney Pond trail à Cathedral à Knife Edge à Helon Taylor –9.3 miles round-trip, approximately 8-10 hours

Difficulty:  Advanced

Katahdin summit

I suggest camping overnight to get an early start as this hike takes a full day.  Chimney Pond trail is about 3 miles that takes you from the Roaring Brook parking area to the base of Mt. Katahdin; there is a lot of root and rock hopping and a slow, steady elevation gain.  Chimney Pond has glorious views of the various peaks.  From here you head right of the pond and up Cathedral Trail.  This is the most difficult trail on the mountain and the shortest way to the summit.  At 1.7 miles you climb quickly toward Baxter Peak, the summit of mile high Mt. Katahdin.  This hike is not for the faint of heart.  This portion of the hike is non-technical climbing, AKA without ropes.  There are some big stretches and sketchy spots but this is one of the most breath-taking and enjoyable trails I have ever been on.  Take your time and be careful; it is dangerous.  Once you reach the summit it is time to cross the Knife Edge trail to South Peak, Chimney Peak, and then on to Pamola Peak.  The Knife Edge is a meter across at its narrowest and it is a thrill!  The trail traverses the ridge along the top of the mountain with sweeping views on both sides.  The trek through “The Chimney” is a steep descent to the floor of a deep crevasse followed by an equally steep ascent to Pamola Peak.  After a full day the final descent down Helon Taylor seems like a walk in the park compared to what you’ve already done.  Beware Pamola, the Penobscot legend, who is angered by people climbing the mountain.  Pamola was thought to cause temperature, wind, precipitation, and visibility changes.  I don’t know if the legend is true but the weather can change dramatically very quickly so be aware.  This route is not recommended in ANY inclement weather and may be closed due to high winds.

For a slightly easier out and back hike try: Hunt or Hamlin trails.


By Liz Adams

Back in Motion Physical Therapy – South Portland, Maine


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