Four Ponds Trip Report

The group.
Height of Land view.
One of the ponds…

The Four Ponds Preserve hike along the Appalachian Trail near Height of Land* in Township E, Maine is one of our tamer hikes, but it is not without its challenges. Although there are no tall mountains to climb this day, there were plenty of hilly ups and downs to get our blood pumping. The weather was chilly at the start, around 9 degrees but there was no wind; we had bright sunshine and bluebird skies.

6 MATLT hikers met at the snowmobile parking lot about a half mile northwest of the trailhead. We grabbed our gear and walked to the trailhead dodging a little traffic along the way.  It was clear no one had been on the trail in ages, so we were prepared to do some trail breaking. We donned our snowshoes and immediately began a gradual climb into the woods.  Fortunately, the snow was not too deep, and as it was crunchy and frozen on top, trail breaking was less arduous than expected.

The Four Ponds Preserve lies just east of Mooselookmeguntic Lake. The Appalachian Trail traverses the length of this 6,000-acre unit with a lean-to at Sabbath Day Pond and a campsite at Little Swift River Pond. Fishing and swimming are popular activities during the warmer months.  Snowshoeing and nearby snowmobile trails are the winter activities.

We wandered in about 2.5 miles of the trail, stopping often to hydrate and snack, take pictures, admire Long Pond or to examine some animal tracks. We think we identified some moose tracks, maybe coyote, probably some hares and some kind of feline. Lynx, bobcat? Alas, no experts among us.  It is a beautiful hike through the woods in the winter and everyone remarked how just how beautiful and peaceful it was.  As we got a later start than planned, we exited the woods in the late afternoon. As we headed back to the cars, we all spent a moment admiring the spectacular views from Height of Land. All in all, a great day.

* Height of Land is perched beside Route 17 in western Maine and offers an expansive look at the sprawling Rangeley Lakes Region and the mountains beyond. This viewpoint is considered one the finest in the state and maybe in all of New England.