I’ve written in the past about two of my very favorite hikes in Maine’s western mountains, and son Josh has waxed eloquently about a neighboring peak that he has at the top of his “must climb” list.

I refer to Little Jackson, Blueberry and Tumbledown mountains, all on Map 19 in DeLorme’s Maine Atlas and Gazetteer, and on the AMC’s Maine Mountains Map 6, Weld Region, in its Maine Mountain Guide.

Close enough to Mt. Blue State Park, and the pleasant hike up the mountain of that name, and to each other that I’m suggesting you make a day of it, rising early from a night in the park and knocking off both Little Jackson and Blueberry in the same day.

Then you can plan an ascent of Tumbledown on a subsequent visit, as you will have been able to scope out the terrain and get some great views of both that mountain and its pristine Alpine pond. Some of Maine’s best vistas unfold below you in every direction from those two less-visited peaks.

And therein lies some of the charm of Little Jackson and Blueberry, as Tumbledown is a much more frequently sought out destination for its own good reasons.

My preferred sequence to hike both mountains in a single day (about 10.5 miles, perhaps six hours total) is to knock off the more difficult one first, when my morning legs are still strong and the first bottle of Gatorade has taken effect.

So it’s up Little Jackson after the sun comes up, a hike that earns to some degree its Boomer Rating Five in “The Boomer’s Guide to Hiking Maine.” In other words, Super Strenuous/Super Rewards. But I think the Boomer Ratings make assumptions about us older hikers that we don’t deserve. For my part, Little Jackson is certainly good exercise, but no killer as the guide suggests. Maybe the authors think we just veg out between hikes, whereas most of us have plenty of other diversions to keep us in shape.

Granted the hike includes an ascent and descent of about 2,300 feet at a rate of a little over 650 feet per mile, but the fact that the first half of the climb is pretty gradual and downright beautiful makes the whole ascent a lot easier. The beauty of the first couple of miles is enhanced by the birches and beeches that populate the easier section.

You get there by taking Route 142 north from the intersection in Weld for two miles to the Byron Road where you’ll turn left. Keep your eye out for a little cemetery on your right after a couple of miles, after which you’ll turn right on another dirt road on which you’ll proceed for less than a mile to a parking lot.

Your hike starts on a grassy road, then it’s a nice steady climb (being sure to take the Little Jackson Trail at an intersection a short distance up the trail) for about an hour. Another hour will take you to a col from which you’ll ascend steeply for the last mile to the 3,434-foot summit, where you’re treated to some great views from an open ledgy area. To the west and down over 500 feet lies Tumbledown Pond, snuggled between cliffs. Rising above it is 3,068-foot Tumbledown Mountain. I once tried to bushwhack down to the pond but had to turn back after scrambling among rocks for quite a while.

After drinking in the view, head back down to your car to continue your two-mountain adventure.

After getting back to Route 142, turn left and head north for not much more than a mile, keeping your eye out for a dirt road on your left marked by a sign for Blueberry Mountain Bible Camp. Heading up that road, you’ll arrive at the camp’s parking lot, in which the owners generously allow hikers to park.

There you’ll begin your 3.4-mile round-trip hike to the 2,962-foot summit after crossing the camp’s athletic field. The first half-hour is a pretty steady climb, then it flattens out a bit, pitches up again over a steep rise, then there’s another flattish section and even a brief descent, before you begin the final assault that even requires getting over a few areas where you’ll have to pull yourself up with your arms.

The summit, like Little Jackson, is an open ledge offering, in my opinion, one of Maine’s great 360-degree views down on Mt. Blue State Park, Webb Lake, and Little Jackson and Tumbledown Mountains.

Then it’s back to the base and a chance to reflect on an exceptional pair of hikes that represent all that is best about exploring the mountains of Maine.

John Christie 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 reached at: [email protected]