Thursday, April 24, 2014
My family has visited some amazing mountain tops that are even more spectacular during the fall. I rounded up a few places that don't require a lot of effort to get to the view, many of which are not actual summits but wonderful vistas to take in the color of the season.
Mount Will in Bethel is one of the sites offering a splendid foliage view, with just a three-mile hike.
Wendy Almeida Photo
Because of the government shutdown I couldn't confirm directly with the White Mountains National Forest service if some of the trails traversing through several miles of the national forest in Maine were actually open. I did, however, confirm with the Appalachian Mountain Club that the Evans Notch road gate was open to travel up Route 113 and trailheads were open in that area.
Burnt Meadow Mountain
• Location: Brownfield
• Mileage: 3.5 miles
• Elevation Gain: about 1,200 feet
• Trailhead Coords: 43.9182, -70.8832
There are some wonderful vistas on this Brownfield mountain trail that don't require too much effort if you choose not to climb to the summit. This is my family's go-to place for taking in the fall foliage when we only have a couple hours to hike. You do not need to summit this mountain to find amazing fall views.
• Location: Bethel
• Mileage: about 3 miles loop
• Elevation Gain: about 1,100 feet
• Trailhead Coords: 44.4783, -70.7963
We hike through the Nature Trail first -- which offers information signs to identify the historical uses of various trees and other features of the mountain -- and up the North Ledges and then loop back down past the south ledges. The best views are not at the actual summit but rather at the ledges on both sides of the mountain. The fall view of the Androscoggin River and Bear River valleys are wonderful this month.
• Location: Grafton Notch State Park, Newry
• Mileage: 2.6 miles
• Elevation Gain: about 950 feet
• Trailhead Coords: 44.59, -70.9471
The Appalachian Trail's white blazes lead hikers up to the trail spur to Table Rock, which is not a summit but a vista point on Bald Pate Mountain. To get out to the Table Rock ledge, hikers have to climb some metal bar steps. Hikers can climb up the AT portion of the trail and go down the mountain on the Table Rock Trail (which passes by some interesting caves), so it's a loop.
• Location: Evans Notch, north of Fryeburg
• Mileage: about 4.6 miles
• Elevation Gain: about 1,100 feet
• Trailhead Coords: 44.252, -70.9914
The summit of Blueberry Mountain is in the Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness north of Fryeburg. We hike up White Cairn Trail to Blueberry Ridge Trail, then loop back down Stone House Trail. We usually take a short detour off the Stone House Trail on the way down the mountain to visit Rattlesnake Pool. It is an amazingly deep, clear pool and not a spot to be missed on this mountain. The colors of fall can be seen on the Presidential mountains from this summit.
• Location: Batchelders Grant Township, Evans Notch
• Mileage: 1.2 miles
• Elevation Gain: about 800 feet
• Trailhead Coords: 44.3571, -70.9919
A short easy hike in Evans Notch in the White Mountain National Forest. This is a family friendly hike and requires the least amount of effort to enjoy a mountain-top view of the area and a great view of trees sporting fall colors.
• Location: Lovell
• Mileage: 1.5 miles
• Elevation Gain: about 500 feet
• Trailhead Coords: 44.188, -70.853
The trail is marked with yellow blazes, and the climb is steady but not particularly steep. This trail has nice cliff views of the western mountains and the Presidential range. There's even a picnic bench at the summit where you can take in the colorful trees.
TRAIL NOTE: Elevation gain is how many feet it takes to climb from the trailhead to the summit/vista point. This is not how tall the mountain actually is. I chose to list elevation gain as a way for people to more accurately compare the difficulty of each trail with their fitness level. All mileage listed is round trip.
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