Wednesday April 16th 2014

Worth the hike: 13 amazing Maine (and nearby) mountaintop views

By: Wendy Almeida

 

My family does a lot of hiking (I’ve been writing my Kid Tracks column for the Maine Sunday Telegram for about 10 years) and we have visited some amazing mountain tops. These places require some effort – some more than others – to get to the view. To tantalize your senses, here is a video roundup of some of our favorites.

Trail Note: Elevation gain is how many feet it takes to climb from the trailhead to the summit/vista point. This is not how tall the mountain actually is. I chose to list elevation gain as a way for people to more accurately compare the difficulty of each trail with their fitness level. All mileage listed is round trip.

1. Caribou Mountain

Location: Evans Notch
Mileage: about 7 miles
Elevation Gain: about 1,900 feet
Trailhead Coords: 44.3359, -70.9753
Terrain Map: Caribou Mountain in Evans Notch on EveryTrail.com
This trail will test your fitness level but it’s worth the climb. It’s one of my family’s favorite views (see photo above). We hiked up the mountain via the Mud Brook Trail and loop back down the Caribou Trail. This is a rocky trail and you have to watch your footing for nearly the majority of the 7 mile trek to avoid twisting an ankle on the rocks and roots. We read in the Maine Mountain Guide that the connection between these two trails was not well marked. Because we were warned, we kept a keen eye out for trail blazes on the rocky summit and had no major problem finding the connection. The summit is expansive and offers truly amazing views.

2. Mount Megunticook & Mount Battie

Location: Camden Hills State Park
Mileage: 4.6 miles to summit both mountains
Elevation Gain: about 950 feet
Trailhead Coords: 44.2288, -69.0542
Terrain Map: Mount Megunticook & Mount Battie in Camden Hills State Park on EveryTrail.com
We hiked the Megunticook Trail to Ocean Lookout on Mount Megunticook. The park trail map has a mileage chart and difficulty rating for each trail. The Megunticook Trail is rated 2 (on a scale of 1 to 3) on the park map because of the steep climb in a few places. According to the Maine Mountain Guide the summit is actually in a wooded area with no nice views. The Ocean Lookout offers the best view on the mountain, which is about 135 feet below the actual summit. After enjoying this view, we took the Ridge Trail back to the Tablelands Trail, which led us to the Mount Battie Trail. There are trail blazes on the pavement to cross the road (you can drive to the top of Mount Battie). After the road crossing, the trail continues into the woods with an easier elevation gain of only about 200 feet to Mount Battie and the stone tower there.


3. Table Rock

Location: Grafton Notch State Park
Mileage: 2.6 miles
Elevation Gain: about 950 feet
Trailhead Coords: 44.59, -70.9471
Terrain Map: Table Rock at Grafton Notch on EveryTrail.com
The Appalachian Trail’s white blazes lead hikers up to the trail spur to Table Rock, which is not a summit but a vista point on Bald Pate Mountain. To get out to the Table Rock ledge hikers have to climb some metal bar steps. Hikers can climb up the AT portion of the trail and go down the mountain on the Table Rock Trail (which passes by some interesting caves) so it’s a loop.

Trail Note: When you’re on Table Rock you can see The Eyebrow on the other side of the notch. If you are like my family, you’ll want to get over there to explore that spot as well, and get a view of Table Rock from the other side.

4. The Eyebrow

Location: Grafton Notch State Park
Mileage: about 2.4 miles
Elevation Gain: about 1,100 feet
Trailhead Coords: 44.59, -70.9471 (same trailhead as Table Rock)
Terrain Map: The Eyebrow at Grafton Notch on EveryTrail.com
The Eyebrow is a trail on Old Speck Mountain that offers a lot of variety for hikers – from the cable handrails to the iron rungs and metal ladder to aid hikers across a small open rock face. Although it’s a steep climb, it rewards hikers with a nice view of the notch. And offers a chance to walk on the AT for a bit as well.

5. Frankenstein Cliffs

Location: Crawford Notch State Park, N.H.
Mileage: about 5 miles
Elevation Gain: about 1,300 feet
Trailhead Coords: 44.1489, -71.3669
Terrain Map: Frankenstein Cliffs in Crawford Notch on EveryTrail
The Frankenstein Cliffs Trail is actually a bluff that offers great views of the lower part of Crawford Notch State Park in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Connect with the Arethusa Falls Trail to make the trip a loop. The waterfall is a special treat worth the side trip to see.



6. Mt. Lafayette

Location: Franconia Notch State Park, N.H.
Mileage: about 9 miles to loop Little Haystack, Lincoln & Lafayette
Elevation Gain: about 3,500 feet
Trailhead Coords: 44.1426, -71.6835
Terrain Map: Haystack, Lincoln, Lafayette loop in Franconia Notch on EveryTrail.com

There are a couple of ways to get to the summit of Mt. Lafayette. We took the Falling Waters Trail up Little Haystack Mountain and then crossed the ridge – one of the best sections of the Appalachian Trail according to many – to summit Mt. Lincoln and then continued on to Mt. Lafayette. The AMC Greenleaf Hut is just below the summit of Mt. Lafayette and a great spot to stop to refill water bottles, have a snack and/or stay overnight. Sunset and sunrise from the Greenleaf Hut are amazing (we saw both)! For a shorter hike, the Old Bridal Path climbs to the summit of Mt. Lafayette as well. One thing about hiking this open ridge is to be prepared for any kind of weather.

Trail Note: At the summit of Lafayette my family spotted a beautiful lake on the other side of Franconia Notch and set out on another day to see it up close. This is another example of why climbing in “notches” is fun – you can see the place you climbed from a different perspective.

7. Lonesome Lake

Location: Franconia Notch State Park, N.H.
Mileage: about 3 miles
Elevation Gain: about 1,000 feet
Trailhead Coords: 44.1426, -71.6835
Terrain Map: Lonesome Lake in Franconia Notch on EveryTrail.com

This trail begins at the Lafayette Campground and is a steady climb to the lake. Lonesome Lake is actually not a summit, it’s the location of a popular family-friendly AMC hut and a popular stopping place for many hiking to the summit of Cannon Mountain. We have met some interesting people, including thru-hikers on the trails (and at the hut) that make this a different sort of hiking experience. Plan to be social on this trail in the summer.

8. The Roost

Location: Batchelders Grant Township, Evans Notch
Mileage: 1.2 miles
Elevation Gain: about 800 feet
Trailhead Coords: 44.3571, -70.9919
Terrain Map: The Roost In Evans Notch on EveryTrail.com
A short easy hike in Evans Notch in the White Mountain National Forest. This is a family-friendly hike and requires the least amount of effort to enjoy a mountain top view of the Notch.

9. Blueberry Mountain

Location: Evans Notch
Mileage: about 4.6 miles
Elevation Gain: about 1,100 feet
Trailhead Coords: 44.252, -70.9914
Terrain Map: Blueberry Mountain via White Cairn and Stone House trails on EveryTrail.com

The summit of Blueberry Mountain is in the Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness north of Fryeburg. We hiked up White Cairn Trail to Blueberry Ridge Trail, then looped back down Stone House Trail. We took a short detour off the Stone House Trail on the way down the mountain to visit Rattlesnake Pool. It was an amazingly deep, clear pool and not a spot to be missed on this mountain.

10. Morse Mountain

Location: Phippsburg
Mileage: 3.5 miles
Elevation Gain: less than 200 feet (but there is some up and down involved)
Trailhead Coords: 43.7452, -69.8375
Terrain Map: Morse Mountain in Phippsburg on EveryTrail.com

This hike is in the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area and is on a mostly paved trail (there are some areas of hard-packed gravel). With a total elevation gain of about 100 feet there’s only a bit of up and down on this trail. The ocean at Sewall Beach at the end of the trail is a wonderful spot for lunch.

11. Burnt Meadow Mountain

Location: Brownfield
Mileage: 3.5 miles
Elevation Gain: about 1,200 feet
Trailhead Coords: 43.9182, -70.8832
Terrain Map: Burnt Meadow Mountain in Brownfield on EveryTrail.com

There are some wonderful vistas on this Brownfield mountain trail that don’t require too much effort if you choose not to climb to the summit. The last quarter-mile to the summit is steep and includes open ledges but it’s not overly concerning for even the most cautious family member.

12. Sabattus Mountain

Location: Lovell
Mileage: 1.5 miles
Elevation Gain: about 500 feet
Trailhead Coords: 44.188, -70.853
Terrain Map: Sabattus Mountain in Lovell on EveryTrail.com

The trail is marked with yellow blazes and the climb is steady but not particularly steep. This trail has nice cliff views of the western mountains and the Presidential Range.


13. Mt. Zircon

Location: Rumford
Mileage: 5.4 miles
Elevation Gain: about 1,600 feet
Trailhead Coords: 44.5057, -70.564
Terrain Map: Mt Zircon in Rumford on EveryTrail.com

The trailhead sign is easily missed when driving on the S Rumford Road so keep an eye out for it set back a bit from the road. The path starts off on an old gravel road with a steady incline. About two miles into the trail there is a left turn at the Mt. Zircon Trail sign to climb up a narrow footpath to the summit. The views are expansive and the White Mountains can be see in the distance on a clear day. The wind turbines on Spruce Mountain are also easily seen from this mountain top and offer an interesting landscape.

To see more of my family’s mountain panoramic videos, go to our YouTube playlist.  And if you want to see more terrain maps of our adventures, visit our EveryTrail trips page.