Mount Will in Bethel is a beautiful — and educational — trail system to explore with older kids, especially during the fall when the temperatures are cool and seasonal colors cover the landscape.

The trailhead for Mount Will is directly across the street from the Bethel Recycling and Transfer Station. There is a small sign indicating the trail name in the parking area with a blue-green blaze on the post.

There is a box for trail maps but the day we visited there were no copies available. It’s best to go to the Bethel Conservation Commission website — www.thebetheljournals.info/Trails/Bethel_trails.htm — to print one out before you head out. Or pick up the “Maine Mountain Guide” from the Appalachian Mountain Club for a trail description and map.

The Mount Will Trail is a looping trail with blue-green blazes. There are other trails on the mountain so unless you’re familiar with the area, pay close attention to the blue-green blazes to be sure you stay on the Mount Will Trail. According to my GPS track from our hike, the trail is approximately three miles with about a 1,200-foot elevation gain.

We decided to start our loop up the mountain via the North Ledges section of the trail. There were quite a few informational panels at various places on our way up the mountain to educate visitors about the trees, plants and geological history of the area.

This included the historical uses of various trees identified as well as explaining other features about the mountain — such as the streambed, glen, small pole stand, slope and stone ledges.

There was even a panel to identify bear claw marks on a tree. The kids were particularly excited about this since now they know what to look for on future trail adventures.

The panels were not only informative but they also offered a nice break during our climb up the mountain. The North Ledges portion of the trail was a steep elevation gain and I used the moment it took to read the panel to also catch my breath.

We enjoyed a snack from a viewing spot on the North Ledges and decided, after we’d hiked the entire loop, that it was our favorite spot on the mountain. It featured views of the Androscoggin River and Bear River valleys.

After the North Ledges we climbed a little higher while heading over to the South Cliffs portion of the trail.

There was a lot of tree cover and we found the best views on this trail system were not at the actual summit but rather at the ledges on both the north and south sides of the mountains.

The South Cliffs offer nice open views to the south and east that include the village of Bethel.

We visited this trail system on a beautiful fall day and can confirm it’s a great place to take in the colors of the season. 

Staff Writer Wendy Almeida can be reached at 791-6334 or at:

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