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Carey Kish

Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island has been adventuring in the woods and mountains of Maine for, well, a long time. If there’s a trail—be it on dirt, rock, snow, water or pavement—he will find it, explore it, and write about it. Carey is a two-time Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, Registered Maine Guide, author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide (10th ed.), and has written a hiking & camping column for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram since 2003. Follow his outdoor travels and musings here, and on Facebook/CareyKish. Let Carey know what you think at MaineOutdoors@aol.com.

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Posted: August 28, 2016

Hiking in Maine: New challenge features the best in Maine hiking

Written by: Carey Kish
Mount Kineo offers amazing cliff-top hiking as one of the six challenges that make up the new Moosehead Pinnacle Pursuit. Carey Kish photo

Mount Kineo offers amazing cliff-top hiking as one of the six challenges that make up the new Moosehead Pinnacle Pursuit.
Photo by Carey Kish

From my airy perch on the apex of Eagle Rock, I was treated to an exhilarating on-top-of-the-world vista that ranged from the upper Kennebec River valley to sprawling Moosehead Lake to vast forestlands and craggy mountain peaks, as far as Katahdin and Baxter State Park.

The view from Eagle Rock is one of the finest in the region and easily among the best in the state. It’s no wonder then that the summit is one of the featured mountaintops in the new Moosehead Pinnacle Pursuit, which challenges hikers to climb six high peaks around the lake, each offering its own perspective on this special corner of the Maine woods.

My wife and I were up to our camp on a small pond in Willimantic in mid-July, intent on a full week of relaxing, a few easy walks and maybe some paddling. But after a stop at the Moosehead Lake Chamber of Commerce information center on the way into Greenville, our rather slovenly plans took a big turn. That’s when we discovered a colorful brochure describing the Moosehead Pinnacle Pursuit, and we knew we had to give it a try.

“We developed the Moosehead Pinnacle Pursuit as another way to drive nature-based tourism to the region,” said Angela Arno, the Chamber’s executive director. “We wanted more hikers to know about the remote and beautiful mountains on the edge of the wilderness.”

Arno collaborated with Dan Rinard of the Appalachian Mountain Club, which is involved in eco-tourism through its Maine Woods Initiative in the heart of the 100-Mile Wilderness east of Greenville. The pair examined the region’s mountain inventory and chose six peaks that are accessible year-round and have maintained foot trails: Mount Kineo, Number Four Mountain, White Cap Mountain, Eagle Rock, Big Moose Mountain and Borestone Mountain.

The Maine Center for GIS created the maps, brochures were printed and a website was developed. Detailed driving directions are provided for each mountain, as well as round-trip trail mileage, elevation gain and trail profiles. With everything in place, the Moosehead Pinnacle Pursuit kicked off last Memorial Day weekend.

628738 Eagle Rock - Fran Le 800

The view from Eagle Rock.
Photo by Carey Kish

We started with Eagle Rock (2,290 feet), hiking via a new trail constructed by the Maine Conservation Corps under the supervision of the Bureau of Parks and Lands. The undulating 3.2-mile trail crests Raven Ledge for great views.

Next up was Number Four Mountain (2,890 feet), a 1.7-mile hike to an old firetower by way of a new switchback trail, also built by the MCC with BPL oversight. On top we couldn’t resist hiking the dead end extension toward Baker Mountain, an exciting AMC/BPL trails project due to be completed next year.

Mount Kineo is a glorious day trip featuring a scenic ferry ride and amazing clifftop hiking. The Pursuit calls for looping Kineo via the Bridle and Indian trails. But after the incredible view from the summit firetower at 1,789 feet, we opted for a 4-mile circumnavigation of the entire peninsula via the North and Carriage trails.

On Borestone Mountain, a 1,600-acre sanctuary owned by Maine Audubon, we barely achieved the highest of the twin summits (1,923 feet) before a thunderstorm. Nonetheless it was an enjoyable hike via the Base and Summit trails past Sunrise Pond.

White Cap Mountain was approached from the north via the Appalachian Trail, where a long and winding stone staircase on the upper slopes leads above the treeline for a fantastic look across the 100-Mile Wilderness to Big and Little Spencer mountains, and Katahdin. It’s 3.3 miles to the 3,644-foot peak.

We ran out of time and energy before we could tackle Big Moose Mountain (3,196 feet), the last summit in our personal pursuit.

Hikers completing the Moosehead Pinnacle Pursuit will receive a patch, sticker and certificate after sending in an application and small fee. Find out more about this hiking challenge and Ultra, Winter and Winter Ultra options at mooseheadpinnaclepursuit.com.

Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island is author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast and editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide. Follow more of Carey’s outdoor adventures at

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