Rising to a long and craggy ridgeline that tops out at 1,308 feet, Ragged Mountain lies along the Camden and Rockport town line a few miles west of Penobscot Bay in the Midcoast region.
Ragged Mountain is probably best known for the ski trails of the Camden Snow Bowl on its northeast slopes, where skiers have been schussing downhill with an ocean view since 1958. The fourth highest mountain along the Maine coast after Cadillac Mountain (1,528 feet), Mount Megunticook (1,385) and Sargent Mountain (1,379), Ragged has been a focal point for outdoor recreation for six decades. In the last two decades, however, Ragged Mountain has become more of a year-round recreation area and a gem of a hiking destination with some 10 miles of footpaths.
Georges River Land Trust began developing the Georges Highland Path in 1996, and now close to 7 miles of that trail ascend Ragged Mountain from the north and west. Coastal Mountains Land Trust has protected 533 acres as the Ragged Mountain Preserve, and built Hosmer Brook Trail on the east side of the peak. Camden Snow Bowl has gone wild with miles of new trails for cross-country skiing, mountain biking and hiking. The most recent addition is the Red Diamond Trail, which is for hiking only on its upper portion.
This fall I was looking to add more trails to the next edition of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide, and Hosmer Brook Trail and Red Diamond Trail were two that definitely needed to go into the book. Combined with a short section of the Georges Highland Path, these two trails make a great 4-mile circuit over the Ragged Mountain summit, and that is what I set out to do on a perfect bluebird day in mid-October.
The loop begins and ends at the iconic A-frame base lodge of the Camden Snow Bowl on Barnestown Road. Hosmer Brook Trail meanders up and across the lower ski slopes, passes under the triple chairlift, and then bears left up Spinnaker Trail. In a quarter-mile, the trail enters the woods on the right and follows Hosmer Brook. At the half-mile mark, a wooded loop leaves left; stay straight and keep climbing the slope. It’s easy going on the switchbacked trail that leads past several mossy rock outcrops.
At a signed junction high on the mountain, turn left to continue on the Georges Highland Path, which follows the undulating ridge south for 0.4 miles before climbing a short, steep pitch to Sundown Ledge. The big ledge offers wonderful views west to Grassy Pond, Spruce Mountain and Mount Pleasant. I could even pick out the big bump on the horizon that was Mount Washington in New Hampshire. It’s quite a spot indeed.
Sundown Ledge isn’t marked with a sign, and neither is the entrance into the woods away from the ledge that is the start of Red Diamond Trail, your return route to the base lodge. With your back to the view, look closely for a gnarled white birch with a small square of plywood (but no sign) nailed to a branch and the trail will be evident.
From Sundown Ledge, Red Diamond Trail quickly reaches a junction, where a spur climbs easily to the true summit of Ragged Mountain. A really nice viewpoint on top takes in Mount Megunticook, Ocean Lookout, Mount Battie, Megunticook Lake and Camden Harbor.
Red Diamond Trail next drops to a shallow col, then heads down through Downeast Glade to the triple chairlift upper station and a good view of Bald Mountain. Winding through the woods alongside Lookout Trail, a series of switchbacks then leads to the double chair upper station. South Overlook platform and a three-sided shelter en route both make good rest stops. This last stretch is shared with mountain bikers, so please be courteous and yield, and don’t cut the switchbacks. Follow the maintenance road over the lower slopes to the finish.
Hosmer Brook Trail and Georges Highland Path are open to the public year round; Red Diamond Trail is too, but in winter it’s open only when the Camden Snow Bowl is not in operation (Mondays and Tuesdays). For more information and a trail map, visit camdensnowbowl.com.