Friday, March 7, 2014
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At the next well-marked intersection, there's a trail register to sign, and even a couple of inviting benches on which to rest and grab a snack.
Then it's a short hike to Knight Nubble. Just 0.2 mile beyond that is the Bernard Mountain summit. This last section can be a little intimidating with a steep narrow path and some challenging rock faces.
LITTLE JACKSON MOUNTAIN
The most difficult and longest of the three hikes I'm recommending is, for a variety of reasons, perhaps the most rewarding. The views are unsurpassed, and its proximity to more popular trails on nearby Tumbledown Mountain renders the hike up Little Jackson a more solitary excursion. And the summit vista includes not only Webb Lake but a much better perspective of Tumbledown Pond than from the mountain of the same name.
To get to the trail head in the northern sector of Mount Blue State Park, just take Route 142 north from the intersection in the center of Weld Corner for a little over two miles, keeping your eye out for the Byron Road on your left. Turn there and look for the Morgan Road just past a cemetery on your right. It's a dirt road leading to the trail head.
The trail starts out on a grassy road before it reaches an intersection at which you'll want to bear right. An hour or so along on what is about a seven-mile hike, you'll see the Pond Link trail leading to Tumbledown Pond departing toward the left. Stay right on the Little Jackson trail for about another hour through a stunning (especially in the fall) hardwood forest before crossing a brook, and the steep and challenging ascent begins up over some ledges.
Arriving at the col between Little and Big Jackson mountains, you'll begin a series of ledge segments with restful flats between. You'll note a sign on the right partway to the summit indicating the unofficial trail up Big Jackson -- a short diversion, but worth it to get a nice look across to the summit on Little Jackson toward which you're headed.
From that intersection up Little Jackson, you're treated to unobstructed views on your way to the 3,434-foot summit. Once there you'll see nestled among some towering cliffs, Tumbledown Pond nearly 600 feet below you, as well as 3,068-foot Tumbledown Mountain.
Little Jackson is one summit where I don't need my wife to remind me to stick around a while and just drink in the scenery. And to rest from the 2,300-foot ascent just completed.
You'll retrace your uphill route to return to your car, during which time I can promise you'll start making plans to return and bring some friends who have yet to experience this special mountain.
John Christrie is an author and year-round Maine explorer. He and his son Josh write in Outdoors about places to enjoy the beauty that only Maine has to offer. He can be contacted at: