Saturday was a fine day for our next A.T. Next Century hike, and the destination didn’t disappoint. Old Blue Mountain is right on the A.T. between Grafton Notch and Maine’s High Peaks, in a stretch of 3600-foot peaks that also includes Elephant Mountain (3,772 feet, trail-less, not the one near Moosehead Lake) and Bemis Mountain, a long ridge with a high point of 3,592 feet. This is not a section of the A.T. that sees many day hikers, as they tend to favor the areas above. Nonetheless, the terrain is as rugged and the scenery as spectacular as it is elsewhere.
We started out right at 10am – another factor in favor of this part of the A.T. in Maine is the accessibility. No logging roads to drive on and exactly 2 hours each way from Portland. We didn’t see anybody else on the trail except for three sets of thru-hikers. One group was just being picked up by a shuttle service in Andover, another was just being dropped off, and the last was a guy from Tennessee section hiking to Dalton, Massachusetts. The weather was warm for this time of year and there were plenty of vehicles headed up to South Arm Campground just up the road.
Since the hike is only 2.8 miles each way, we took it slow, enjoyed the scenery and each other’s company. There are several steep sections sandwiched around a nearly-flat climb, so we were on the summit by 1pm. We spent about 45 minutes on top eating lunch and talking. The weather by this time of day was actually hot, despite the summit breezes.
The trip down is easier, but the terrain is so steep that it’s more of a challenge than it is on the ascent. More than any other hike, it almost feels like you are on a different trail due to the differing views (it’s an up and back hike). Even the view of the Black Brook valley down to Andover and Ellis Pond seemed to be different. We somehow missed seeing the Andover Earth Station on the way up, but it was prominent on the way down!
It was another great hike to round out the summer season. Check back on our website for additional hikes for the fall!