Hunkered down indoors on a cold and snowy day a few weeks back, I posted a question on my Facebook page, asking friends, “What’s your favorite spring hike and why?” Cabin fever must have been running high because in just a short time I received a wealth of great responses from hikers all over Maine and beyond. Listed below are their recommendations for some pretty fine spring outings on the trail.
ALONG THE COAST
Troy Zohner of Dover-Foxcroft thinks Acadia National Park hikes are “good spring bets, with no muddy roads and earlier snow melts than the higher mountains.” Zohner’s picks include the Bald, Parkman, Gilmore, Sargent and Penobscot loop hike (add Cedar Swamp for a six-peak adventure) and the Beech, Bernard and Mansell mountains circuit.
Hailing from Bar Harbor, Martha Williams likes the five-mile traverse of Champlain and Gorham mountains on the east side of Acadia. Take “the Beechcroft Trail up Champlain. Be sure to bushwhack up Huguenot Head on the way… Summit Champlain, go behind the Beehive and by The Bowl, and on to Gorham Mountain, taking the higher route. Descend to the Park Loop Road.”
Laura Flight of Readfield is partial to the Camden Hills, preferring to “head to Mt. Battie when there is too much sloppy snow in the mountains and the trails are a monorail of packed snow from winter hikers.”
Averse to biting insects, Tom Jamrog of Lincolnville cautions that “any spring hike in the mountains has to take in the fact that black flies might be chomping.” Therefore, Jamrog likes to head Downeast to the Cutler Coast for an early season hike.
John Burk, hiking guidebook author from Northhampton, Mass., recommends Dunn Falls on the Ellis River along the Appalachian Trail west of Andover for its “nice variety of waterfall and cascade views, including the little canyon.” Just south on the East B Hill Road is the trail to the Cataracts on Frye Brook, which offers “a beautiful display when the water is high in spring,” says Michael Blais of New Gloucester.
Shannon LeRoy of Greenville likes Little Wilson Falls on the AT in Elliotsville Plantation “because it is such a magical place, a perfect way to start off the season.” Peg Leonard of Hampden makes an annual spring pilgrimage to Gulf Hagas in the heart of the 100-Mile Wilderness because “the huge volume of water roaring through the gulf makes it a mind-cleansing excursion.”
Marla Michaels of Portland calls the hike to Presumpscot River Falls in Portland “exhilarating,” while Priscilla Hansen of South Portland likes Angel Falls – Maine’s highest – in Township E because “the water is rushing in spring and the falls are amazing!”
Bill Stevens, currently wintering in Punta Gorda, Fla., says “you can’t beat a hike up Aziscohos Mountain in the spring on a clear day. More than 20 bodies of water are visible from the peak, and the Presidential Range lies off on the distance.” The Aziscohos trailhead is in Lincoln Plantation on Route 16, some 17 miles west of Rangeley.
“A gem of a hike with fantastic views and no streams or brooks to cross is Mosquito Mountain near Moxie Pond in The Forks,” notes Marc Chadbourne of Portland.
A favorite of Ryan Crocker of Falmouth is Tumbledown Mountain west of Weld, “but not during mud season!” Good advice, as the Byron Notch Road can be pretty nasty in early spring.
Brunswick denizen Rick Sargent is partial to Baldface Mountain in Evans Notch, which has “just enough above treeline without the exposure of the big peaks.” Chuck Lafean of Auburn likes to hike nearby Caribou Mountain, but from the backside, which “is quick … and has great views from the top.”
Finally, from Andy Charles of South Portland: “Let’s not forget Pleasant Mountain in Bridgton and the beautiful Loon Echo Land Trust trails. A great spring warm-up, close to Portland and excellent views.”
Carey Kish of Bowdoin is editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide. Find him on Facebook and Twitter @CareyKish.