The latest Maine A.T. Land Trust community hike was up Old Speak in the Western side of Grafton Notch. According to the Maine Mountain Guide, Old Speck, at 4,170 feet, was named for its speckled appearance formed by its large areas of exposed rock and tree cover and to distinguish it from other speckled mountains in Maine. For a long time it was thought to be the second highest peak after Hamlin on Katahdin but now it is known as the fourth highest following Hamlin, Sugarloaf and the north peak of the Crockers.
Despite the prediction of a cloud-covered summit and the possibility of rain, four of us headed up the AT in damp, cool and humid conditions. Soon after starting out we came to the trail junction for the Eyebrow, an eyebrow-shaped cliff below Old Speck where the trail loops around to rejoin further up the AT. This was not part of the day’s plan, not to mention it would be slippery and have no views. Another day perhaps. As we traveled along and starting ascending the stone steps heading to the falls on Cascade Brook, we encountered a most awful stench and soon saw a sign indicating that there was a dead moose carcass just off the trail. The maggots lining the footpath and the truly overwhelming odor was not enough to stop two curious members of the group from taking a look. Rest in peace my moose friend.
As we continued on we met quite a few through hikers both north and south bound. One pair, heading northbound (also known as NOBO) who had joined up along the way, were known as “Fish Out of Water” and “Prof”. “Fish” is a marine biologist from California so the lack of ocean views on this journey made him feel like, well, a fish out of water! “Prof” is a young man who started smoking a pipe and was told he looked professorial (he ditched the pipe soon after). They were happy to answer the usual annoying questions from day hikers and even posed with us for pictures. Good sports!
Summiting found a quite few other day hikers either enjoying lunch or climbing the fire tower where they could only imagine the view they were missing. It is truly spectacular on a clear day. We took our customary group photos, hunted for the “geo” survey marker (short for geodetic) hidden in the bushes on a rock by a cairn – and then headed back down.
Descent was uneventful – there were a few more through hikers and day hikers along the way. Although rain was predicated for the late afternoon, the sky actually started to clear a bit and we were able to get a few glimpses of the mountains from the ridges – Sunday River Whitecap stood out quite nicely. All in all, we were quite happy with our hike. It’s not always about the view – just wandering companionably through the Maine woods with fellow hikers is just as meaningful.
The Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust hosted its second community hike of the season to Baldpate Mountain in Grafton Notch. There are two summits: the somewhat wooded West Peak at 3,662 feet and the wide open and beautiful East peak at 3,812 feet. According to the AMC Maine Mountain Guide, these peaks were also known as Saddleback and Bear River Whitecap. This rugged hike, complete with bog planks, ladders and open bald ledges leads up the AT and starts on the east side of ME Route 26.
The morning was cool, crisp, clear and breezy when four guys and a gal met up in the parking lot in Grafton Notch State Park. Two of five had not hiked the Baldpates before and were promised that it would be more than worth the effort. In fact, we stopped at the trail junction for Table Rock, a short rugged side trail with a sign indicating fantastic views, and the question was raised whether we should spend the time to go see them. Although the views from Table Rock are pretty impressive, the views to come would clearly outshine those from Table Rock so we continued on and left Table Rock for another day.
It took well over three hours to reach the summit. Along the way we took a .2 mile detour to visit the lean-to and have a quick snack. We took time to photograph the one lone (and more uncommon) white lady slipper next to the trail and the alpine flowers along the boggy areas. Continuing along, the wind picked up dramatically as we ascended over the open ledges to summit the East peak. As promised, the views did not disappoint. To the southwest you could see as far as Mount Washington and looking northeast you could see as far as Sugarloaf.
Lunch was spent enjoying the views (and in a few cases napping) on the eastern end of the summit where it was warmer and less windy. Soon it was time to leave, and reluctantly we headed back down the ledges where the wind had picked up even more and buffeted us around! Fortunately, no one flew off the mountain and upon our return to the parking lot we decided to meet at the Sunday River Brewing Company. We enjoyed a nosh and a beer and reflected on our awesome hike to the Baldpates.
The Maine A.T. Land Trust’s latest community hike was up Puzzle Mountain on a beautiful Saturday in Grafton Notch! This mountain (which has three summits) is one of the true hidden gems in Maine’s Appalachian Trail landscape. The peak is 3,133 feet high but due to the location there are large areas above treeline and the final 3/4 mile or so is on rock ledges that give the mountain a true alpine feel.
We stopped at Rising Sun Bakery, picked up a few stragglers and headed out! Temperatures were in the low 70’s and the weather, a bit cloudy and humid at the start, only got better as a front passed through and dried things out. We had a group of seven and we reached the summit in just about two and a half hours, where we enjoyed a great lunch from Rosemont Market and spectacular view of the surrounding mountains. We could see the higher peaks of the Mahoosuc Range (including the Baldpates, destination of next week’s hike), the string of peaks among the Rangeley Lakes (Old Blue, Bemis Mountain), and all the way up to Saddleback Mountain and Mount Abraham).
After descending, we all agreed it was a great day and celebrated with a drink at one of the finest breweries in the A.T. region, Norway Brewing Company.
Join us for our next hike on Saturday, June 9th up the Baldpates! Sign up here and you can reserve a spot and a free lunch!
The Maine A.T. Land Trust has just received a grant from the John Sage Foundation for upcoming work on the Bald Mountain Pond project! The work to protect this unique area, which combines water recreation and access with mountainous terrain, will begin this summer. Conservation of this property will also secure an important buffer for five miles of the nearby Appalachian National Scenic Trail at Moxie Bald Peak and new public access to Bald Mountain Pond via 19 miles of private logging roads for hikers, paddlers, and anglers. The area supports a variety of regionally and nationally significant wildlife such as the landlocked Arctic char and Canada lynx, a federally threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
Thank you to the John Sage Foundation for helping the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust to on this project!
The Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust is pleased to announce that it has received a grant of $5,000 from the Onion Foundation in support of the SCALE UP program. The Onion Foundation is a private philanthropic foundation based in Maine. The Onion Foundation’s mission is to encourage conservation and stewardship of the natural environment and to promote music and the arts in the state of Maine. They are locally-based and fund local non-profits only in Maine, and have contributed to some excellent organizations doing great work for the past several years.
You can read more about the SCALE UP program below! Thanks again to the Onion Foundation.
The Maine A.T. Land Trust has posted our 2018 warm-weather season roster of hikes here!
Just to give you a quick rundown – we’ve selected some of our favorites on the A.T. or on official A.T. side trails throughout Maine. Some of the spots are well-known, but we like to get people out in places they might not be familiar with or wouldn’t go to unless they had somebody take them there. We also picked a few that are in the greater A.T. landscape but not directly connected to the trail because they are more accessible and you can get an experience of an important component of the A.T.(like a national forest area).
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you feel like you need more info about a hike or have any questions. As a further incentive to get you signed up, we’ll provide lunch! Free!
The Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust is VERY pleased to welcome Louise Jensen to the Board of Directors! Louise is a long-time volunteer for the organization and all-around supporter of MATLT’s work. She is a trained trip leader who loves leading groups out on Maine’s A.T. landscape – including up to Avery and West Peaks, her favorites! – and she also puts her technical expertise to work on the Appalachian Trail Maine: Next Century project. This project, which was started in late 2016, is working to advance the A.T. Landscape Partnership by strategically mapping and inventorying many of the salient features of the mountains in the A.T. region in Maine. Louise has considerable expertise working with towns and municipalities in Maine who often have much of the data we are using.
She is also a great person and you’d be hard pressed to find a better trail buddy when you’re out on Maine’s A.T. Congratulations Louise!
The Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust ended the winter hiking season with a spectacular April hike to the summit of Old Speck Mountain in Grafton Notch. By this time of year, many people in Maine are experiencing winter fatigue and can’t wait to put away the snowshoes, skis, facemasks, gloves and hats.
Not this group! A fresh 3-6 inches of snow had fallen over hard-packed trail, so we were able to leave the snowshoes in the car. Temperatures were in the low 30’s to start and the sunshine at this time of year is bright enough to make it feel warmer. One member of our group even hiked the lower portion of the trail in shortsleeves. When crossing in front of the Eyebrow we heard the thunderous crash of ice chunks falling from teh cliff wall down to the forest below.
Nonetheless, the winds picked up at higher elevations and the snow, already powdery enough, began to blow and even drift over the trail. Areas where the sun was blocked by the trees were very cold. There were three groups ahead of us on this fine day and it was fortunate that we could follow their tracks.
It took about 3.5 hours to reach the summit, and due to the bright sunshine on the summit we stayed for about half and hour and ate lunch. Views from the summit tower stretched in all directions, and continued on the way down. At lower elevations the temperature had warmed enough to melt all the snow from the trees and melt much of what had fallen on the trail. Back in the parking lot all of the snow that had fallen the night before was gone. Oh and we stopped at three bakeries on the way up/back.
Check out website in the next few weeks for our warm-weather A.T. hikes schedule! We’ll start in mid-May and go all the way to November!
The Maine A.T. Land Trust’s latest hike up Cranberry Peak was a great way to finish out the winter hiking season (potentially…). We didn’t get all the way to the summit but with a small group of just four, we were able to ascend the ridge of the Bigelows in tough conditions on a beautiful day.
It was a cold start (about 10 F) and the winds were fairly brisk but the real issue was the SNOW. Maine had a statewide storm the week before and the mountains got thumped with anywhere from 2 to 3 feet of snow. Cranberry Peak was no exception! The trailhead is normally accessed from a parking area down Currie Road in Stratton, but we had to park behind the Coplin town office. It wasn’t until we reached the trail itself and saw how deep the snow was, and how unbroken the trail, that we realized what we were in for!
Hikers took turns breaking through the deep powder which, depending on the slope, was anywhere from knee-deep to waist-deep. After a few hundred yards, the next hiker stepped up to break trail while the other headed to the rear, sweating and breathing heavily in the cold air. After four hours, we had reached the ridge. Knowing that the trail ahead would be more difficult to find due to the low vegetation, and knowing that we probably wouldn’t reach the summit before the cut off time of 2pm, we decided to turn back.
Our progress down was faster and we were able to stop and enjoy the views. To the south and east you see the A.T. and Redington Forest; to the south, the Rangeley area and Bemis Mountain; to the west and northwest, the Boundary Mountains. Despite not reaching the summit, it was a great hike.
Stay tuned for our next – bonus – hike up Old Speck Mountain! Date TBD, check back on our website!
Maine A.T. Land Trust had a great hike over the weekend up Bald Mountain in Oquossoc on a beautiful late winter day. Due to the coastal storm the day before, some hikers had to drop out but we had a good time with a small group of three. While the coast was still dealing with high winds and poor conditions, the mountains of Maine have plenty of snow.
The Appalachian Trail doesn’t go over Bald Mountain, which is on a small divide of elevated land between Mooselookmeguntic Lake in the west and Rangeley Lake in the east. However, as the photos show, you can see a stretch of about one hundred miles of the A.T. from the summit on a clear day. The view is spectacular from the observation tower at the summit and the route is only 1.3 miles up. In the winter this hike does require traction aids to get up over some steep sections that tend to ice up, but it’s not a long stretch and if you take your time it is doable.
Join us for our next hike up Burnt Hill this coming Saturday!