September 22, 2013

Carey Kish: Hiking plus foliage equals fun

The leaves of the soft maples in the low-lying areas around my home in Bowdoin are changing fast into their classic red colors of fall, and a little more every day I notice the forest fringes turning orange and yellow. Foliage season has certainly arrived, and with it, the start of Fall Foliage Reports from the Maine Forest Service.

click image to enlarge

Hikers looking for great spots to view fall foliage in Maine won’t be disappointed by a trek to Ocean Lookout on Mount Megunticook in Camden Hills State Park.

Carey Kish photo

The first of six weekly reports, posted at www.mainefoliage.com in mid-September, indicated that we are likely in for a very nice autumn color-wise, good news for us leaf peepers out there on the trails of our woods and mountains.

The reports track the progress of fall foliage across seven regions of the state over the course of the season, so you can always know where and when to go for the best leafy colors.

Here are a few fun hike suggestions for your consideration, one for each state foliage zone, as you follow along with the peak of the turning leaves from Fort Kent to Kittery.

ZONE 7: NORTHEASTERN MAINE

From the top of Mars Hill in the town of the same name, enjoy views ranging from Mt. Carleton in New Brunswick to Katahdin. Leave from the Big Rock Ski Area base lodge and weave your way to the ridgeline to join the International Appalachian Trail. Follow this to the open grassy summit, passing by several towers of Maine's first major wind energy project.

ZONE 6: NORTHWESTERN MAINE

Venture into the Aroostook wilds southwest of Fort Kent to visit Deboullie Public Reserved Land, which comprises the entire 22,000-acre unorganized township of T15 R9 WELS. Combine the Black Mountain Loop, Deboullie Mountain and Deboullie Loop trails for a nice circuit leading to the 48-foot fire tower atop Deboullie Mountain and extensive vistas of the surrounding forestlands.

ZONE 5: WESTERN MOUNTAINS

Tackle the craggy pinnacle of Eagle Rock in Big Moose Township west of Greenville. Atop this stunning bald outcropping, drink in the views north over Moosehead Lake to Mount Kineo, Little Kineo and Big and Little Spencer mountains all the way to Katahdin. Look west to Jackman and Canada, south to the Bigelows, and just east to the neighborly Big Moose Mountain.

ZONE 4: EASTERN MAINE

Just south of Calais is the promontory of Devil's Head overlooking the St. Croix River and Canada, the highest along the coast of Maine east of Acadia. The 318-acre conservation area encompassing the hill is owned by the city of Calais, which maintains several miles of trails. The nearby St. Croix International Historic Site was the first European colony in New England, settled by the French in 1604, and a must-see.

ZONE 3: CENTRAL/SOUTHWESTERN

Mount Pisgah rises high over the 700-acre conservation area of the same name in the Kennebec Valley Region in Winthrop. The impressive 60-foot fire tower on top affords far-reaching views west over Androscoggin Lake to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Make it a loop hike by combining the Tower Trail for the ascent and the old tower road for the descent.

ZONE 2: DOWNEAST

The Frenchman Bay Conservancy offers wonderful hiking on a dozen preserves in Hancock County. For a nice sampler, meander along the trails of the Baker Hill and Long Ledges preserves, two adjoining parcels totaling 376 acres, in Sullivan. There are views of Acadia from Baker Hill, and lovely forests and a remote pond at Long Ledges. The conservancy's "Short Hikes" brochure lists more hikes.

ZONE 1: MID-COAST/SOUTH COAST

One of my perennial fall favorites is Camden Hills State Park. Make the jaunt up Mount Battie to the old stone war memorial on top. Then continue on to the big ledges of Ocean Lookout near the summit of Mount Megunticook, as fine a spot as any to plop down and enjoy lunch with a grand view over Battie to Camden Harbor and Penobscot Bay.

Carey Kish of Bowdoin is editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide. Send comments and hike suggestions to:

maineoutdoors@aol.com

 

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