After a couple of easy elevation climbs this spring, my family decided to tackle a mountain we’ve considered hiking for a couple of years — Caribou Mountain in the Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness of the White Mountains National Forest.

Caribou Mountain is located in the Evan’s Notch area north of Fryeburg. The notch has been a favorite hiking destination for my crew for several years because we really enjoy hiking Blueberry Mountain, particularly during blueberry picking season (the mountain was aptly named).

My daughters and I take an exercise class together, as well as walk and hike regularly, so we felt like we were finally ready to tackle this 2,850-foot mountain with its 2,000-foot elevation gain from trailhead to summit. But as I posted on my Twitter account after this hike, it really tested my family’s fitness level. The key to making it doable included pacing ourselves, along with several water and snack breaks. It also confirmed we need to keep up with our weekly Zumba classes because it gave us the cardio endurance we needed to make it up this big (to us) mountain.

I concurred with both my kids that this climb was absolutely worth the sweat. We were amply rewarded with an amazing panorama of surrounding peaks. My 14-year-old also was pleased to have found yet another geological marker at the summit. She’s all about locating those markers this year and I have found it to be a great motivator for my teens on our mountain treks.

We chose to hike up the mountain via the Mud Brook Trail and loop back down the Caribou Trail. It turned out to be a 7-mile trek round-trip. We read in the AMC 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.

But there was an aspect of this hike that the girls and I found particularly challenging — the rocky terrain. There were large rocks and roots embedded in the trail for most of the climb up, as well as down. There were also a surprisingly high number of water crossings, which were shallow streams of varying widths. Basically we did a lot of rock jumping over waterways and on the actual trail. I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal to have to watch your footing. But after 7 miles of careful stepping to avoid twisting an ankle, we really came to appreciate the even terrain walking around our neighborhood the next day.

Despite the rocks, this was a trail that offered a great sense of accomplishment for my family. It’s not a casual or easy mountain hike, so I’d recommend you make sure your kids (and you) are ready for the elevation gain. I think my kids, at 14 and 16 years old now, were at the right age and general fitness level to hike this mountain to ensure we would all enjoy the experience. If you want to visit Evan’s Notch with your family but aren’t sure they can handle this mountain, the 1,300-foot elevation gain of Blueberry Mountain might be a better place to start. The views on the various mountain peaks in Evan’s Notch are all wonderful. Well, those we’ve climbed so far. We have plans to take on a few more mountains around the notch later this year because we love the views so much. But you can be sure we’ll be making a point to step up our weekly exercise program to stay in shape before tackling these taller peaks.

Assistant News Editor Wendy Almeida can be contacted at 791-6334 or at:

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Twitter: RaisingMaine