The warm spring weather has arrived (so have the bugs, but hey, this is Maine) and it’s high time to get your gear sorted out and loaded up for some fun backpacking trips. Give the heavily used Appalachian Trail a break and try one of these lesser traveled routes instead for an enjoyable overnight on the trail.

LITTLE MOOSE PUBLIC RESERVED LAND

IT’S AN EASY half-mile hike to Big Moose Pond and just a mile to Little Moose Pond, but you’ll feel far from the road in this prime wilderness setting. Experience splashing beavers, hooting owls and crying loons, a moose if you’re lucky, and a sweet sunrise from your camp.

AFTER PITCHING YOUR tent, take the loop trail that rounds the two ponds (a detour to Papoose Pond is a bonus) and climbs the scenic ridge above. For more exploration continue down Little Moose Mountain to Little Notch and Big Notch Ponds, an additional 2.5 miles each way.

THE FOLLOWING MORNING, relax in camp or hike out and tackle the seven-mile round trip to the nearby 3,196-foot peak of Big Moose Mountain for extraordinary views over Moosehead Lake.

TO FIND THE trailhead, travel five miles north from Greenville on Route 15. At the blue and white sign for Little Moose turn left and go 1.8 miles to a fork. Bear left on Mountain Road for another 1.2 miles to the parking area.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, go online to www.parksandlands.com.

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK

BACKPACKING IN Acadia? Sure. For an interesting twist try this 11-mile hike that takes in Cadillac Mountain, Blackwoods Campground and Pemetic Mountain.

FROM BAR HARBOR take Route 233 west to the Park Loop Road and go south to Bubble Pond trailhead. Hike the West Face Trail one mile to a junction with the South Ridge Trail high on Cadillac Mountain. Leave the summit to the tourists and instead head right for a great hike along the open ridge with fabulous ocean and island vistas. Pass the Featherbed and Eagles Crag on your way to camp at Blackwoods Campground.

THE NEXT DAY, hike out to Route 3 and walk left for a half-mile to the Park Loop Road. Scramble down the bank; just ahead on the right is the Triad-Hunter’s Brook Trail. Follow the brook through mature spruce forests and then scramble up The Triad. Beyond, take the Pemetic Mountain Trail over the beautiful pink slabs of the mountain back to your car.

FOR MORE INFOMATION on Acadia National Park, go to www.nps.gov/acad.�

MARS HILL

HIKE A SECTION of the International Appalachian Trail, check out the Mars Hill wind energy project, and camp on a mountaintop on this short three-mile out-and-back trek.

TO REACH THE trailhead, take Route 1A north out of Mars Hill. Go right on Boynton Road for a couple miles, then right on East Blaine Road for a short distance. Turn left at Big Rock Ski Area and park below the base lodge.

WALK LEFT UNDER the double chair lift and continue on the old service road that winds up a ski trail. At the ridgetop turn right onto the IAT, following the white markers. Pass beneath several of the huge whirling wind towers and climb easily to the summit of Mars Hill at 1,734 feet.

TWO MORE TOWERS rise from the large open grassy area here. Just to the left is a large Adirondack log shelter and a privy, but no water source. Enjoy broad views west across Aroostook County – Mount Katahdin and the many peaks of Baxter State Park are visible – and east into Canada. It’s a unique spot to spend the night.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, go to www.internationalat.org.

BAXTER STATE PARK

THE NORTHERN REACHES of Baxter are dotted with scenic ponds. One of the prettiest is Frost Pond, reachable by a 12-mile round-trip hike from Park Road at Trout Brook Farm.

CROSS THE FOOTBRIDGE over Trout Brook and head into the deep woods on the Freezeout Trail. It’s pleasant walking on the old tote road to the shore of Grand Lake Matagamon and an extensive sawdust pile that marks the remains of an old mill. A mile beyond bear left onto the Frost Pond Trail and hike gradually uphill to the sturdy log lean-to, situated in cool woods a few yards from the pond’s edge.

BECAUSE YOU’VE RESERVED the spot you’re guaranteed plenty of peace and quiet in this lovely place. So explore on foot, take the canoe out for a cruise (paddles and life jackets hang outside the shelter), or relax by the campfire and enjoy!

FOR MORE INFORMATION, go online to www.baxterstateparkauthority.com.

Carey Kish of Bowdoin is a Registered Maine Guide and has hiked and camped extensively throughout Maine. Send comments and hike suggestions to:

[email protected]