Amble over the delightful paths on Bald Pate Mountain in South Bridgton and you’ll be rewarded with fine views from the craggy summit. Through the trees you can see out over the steep southern escarpment to Peabody Pond and the pretty countryside.

The mountaintop is more wooded than you might expect, given that “bald” is part of its name. But when you realize the scraggly trees around you are old pitch pines that have watched over this spot for a long time, well, you know you’re among friends in a special place.

“I really like the summit of Bald Pate,” said Carrie Walia, executive director of Loon Echo Land Trust, the conservation group that owns and manages the 486-acre Bald Pate Mountain Preserve. “The 2-acre grove of pitch pines there represents a very unique forested environment. It’s fun to just sit among the trees and look out.”

Hikers often ask Walia why the trees aren’t cleared to make for a better view from the 1,150-foot peak, but they quickly relent when told of the ecological importance of these pines.

“They’re precious jewels of the preserve,” Walia said.

The land around Bald Pate Mountain was preserved in 1997 through an extraordinary community effort that protected the summit from a proposed television tower. The project was the trust’s first, and put it squarely in the public eye.

After the preserve was established, a recreation and forest management plan was developed to determine how to make the best use of the property for multiple uses while protecting the natural resources.

To reach the trailhead, take Route 302 to Bridgton. South of town turn onto Route 117, and after a mile take a left on Route 107. After 4 miles you’ll pass Five Fields Farm. The trailhead is just ahead on the left at the top of the hill.

Six trails leave from the parking area and kiosk and wend through the property, offering hikers some 6 miles of tramping opportunities.

For an exploratory tour of the mountain, try this route: Head straight for the Foster Pond Lookout to enjoy cliff-top views of the pond and surrounding hills.

Then double back and make your way gradually to the main summit, enjoying views of Pleasant Mountain and the White Mountains en route. On top, there’s a bronze plaque honoring Bald Pate Mountain supporters, and a granite slab perfect for sitting and enjoying the scenery.

Just beyond, the trail forks. Bear left down the mountainside on the South Loop Trail, then scramble back up on Pate Trail. Descend again on South Loop Trail, and complete the circuit by following Moose Trail along the base of the hill to your car. It’s all easy to moderate going, and you’ll get to see a lot.

If you’re still up for more adventuring, try hiking the Town Farm and Holt Pond trails. Combined, the trails lead 3.5 miles one-way from Bald Pate to Holt Pond.

The trust has preserved more than 3,750 acres in the northern Sebago Lake region, owning six preserves and holding conservation easements on 15 properties. Pleasant Mountain is the largest preserve at over 2,000 acres.

“The challenge right now is to raise $100,000 by the end of this year,” said Walia. “If we can do that we’ll be able to secure an additional 795 acres on Pleasant Mountain.”

Come winter, snowshoers and cross-country skiers are welcome to take to the trails of Bald Pate Mountain. The Gyger Family at nearby Five Fields Farm ( maintains 25 kilometers of ski trails — many of them groomed for classic and skate skiing — which wind through the woods and fields and reach partway up Bald Pate Mountain. Rentals and a warming hut are available.

Every January the trust helps sponsor the Mushers Bowl, a weeklong winter carnival that includes dogsled rides and races, skijoring, guided snowshoe treks, skiing, ice skating, lots of food and a dance.

Many of the events take place on Bald Pate Mountain and at Five Fields Farm.

The trust is very active and organizes hikes, cleanups and trail maintenance activities throughout the year. New members and volunteers are always welcome.

The annual Hike n’ Bike Trek fundraiser at Shawnee Peak each September is a favorite, and benefits the trust’s land conservation projects and programs. Participants can register to hike 6 miles on Pleasant Mountain or bicycle 25, 50 or 100 miles through western Maine.

Carey Kish of Bowdoin is a freelance writer and avid hiker. Send comments and hike suggestions to:

[email protected]