September 12, 2010

Kid Tracks: Climbing the Camden hills in the heat turns out to be cool

By WENDY ALMEIDA Staff Writer

click image to enlarge

The Tablelands Trail in Camden Hills State Park leads to the trail to the summit of Mount Battie. The park offers trails of varying difficulty for hikers.

Wendy Almeida photo

click image to enlarge

A 12-year-old hiker is rewarded with the view of bay and mountains from Ocean Lookout, at 1,300 feet, on Mount Megunticook.

Wendy Almeida photo

Additional Photos Below

CAMDEN HILLS STATE PARK

WHERE: Camden

TRAIL DIFFICULTY: To Mount Megunticook at 1,385 feet -- moderate-difficult for teens, difficult for children under 8 years old. To Mount Battie at 780 feet -- moderate for teens, difficult for children under 8, as there are a couple of steep pitches. The park's trail map offers brief descriptions of each trail, with a difficulty rating.

DRIVING TO THE VIEW: Visitors can drive to the top of Mount Battie.

MORE ONLINE: To view an interactive map of the Almeida family's hike at Camden Hills State Park, go to the Kid Tracks blog at

www.RaisingMaine.com/kidtracks
After a summer of paddling adventures, my family was ready to hit the hiking trails again in September. Camden Hills State Park has been on our list of hiking destinations to explore, so we made plans with a friend to visit.

We loved the trails, especially the views from the tops of Mount Megunticook and Mount Battie. The only problem we encountered on the day we visited was beyond the park's control -- the 90-plus-degree heat.

It takes a lot of extra water to hike in the summer heat, which is why we tend to avoid it. No one likes carrying the water bottles needed for comfortable temperatures during a 1,000-foot elevation-gain trek, let alone an extra one or two for really hot days.

But we were committed to making the date with our friend (coordinating work and school schedules was no easy feat) so the night before, I took some extra time to prepare. I filled multiple water bottles for each hiker with water and Kool-Aid. Then I put them all in the freezer with the hope that they would keep our sandwiches and snacks cool while also keeping us hydrated during our early morning adventure.

We parked in the lot designated for hikers just past the entrance gate. We opted for the Megunticook Trail to Ocean Lookout on Mount Megunticook. The park trail map has a mileage chart and difficulty rating for each trail. The Megunticook Trail is rated 2 (on a scale of 1 to 3) because of the steep climb in a few places and its total elevation gain of about 1,000 feet.

Needless to say, we drank a lot of water and Kool-Aid on our trek. The sweetened drink was a nice slush consistency about halfway up the mountain, so the kids thought that was a great treat during our hot climb.

We made it to Ocean Lookout and even though the hazy heat didn't allow for a crystal clear view, the panorama of ocean and surrounding mountains was gorgeous nonetheless. The adults thought it was well worth the effort to get there. The kids agreed.

Ocean Lookout, at 1,300 feet, is not actually the summit of Mount Megunticook -- it's 85 feet higher -- but it is noted as the best view from the mountain.

My oldest loves photography and took a bunch of photos before the camera was turned over to my youngest for the quintessential hiker's photograph -- feet framed by the mountaintop view. For her this meant a shoeless shot, since she's known for kicking off her hiking boots at the top of mountains before settling in for a snack break.

We noted some geological aspects at this spot for a project the girls are working on about glacial striations. The grooves in the bedrock at Ocean Lookout are indicators of how glaciers moved over the land during the last ice age, about 20,000 years ago.

The geological history of the Camden Hills area is quite interesting. If you want to learn more about this area, as well as others around Maine, check out EarthCache.org. The site, managed by the Geological Society of America and Geocaching.com, is a great novice-friendly way to introduce your family to geology.

After lunch and lots of water, we were feeling refreshed and decided to hike to Mount Battie. We took the Ridge Trail back to the Tablelands Trail, which led us to the Mount Battie Trail. When we found ourselves at a paved road, we were initially confused about how to proceed until we saw the trail blazed on the pavement. The trail headed back into the woods and we made our climb, a much easier elevation gain of only about 200 feet, to Mount Battie.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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A young climber celebrates reaching the heights of Mount Megunticook with the traditional hiker’s view.

Wendy Almeida

  


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