Crocker Hill rises to 1,374 feet in the Paris Hill neighborhood of the town of Paris. It’s the only one of the 17 Oxford Hills summits described in the AMC Maine Mountain Guide that this hiker had not yet visited. But at last, on a glorious autumn morning, I shouldered my day pack, slipped around the green forest gate and headed up to take a good look around.

Just a quarter-mile along the grassy track, I met a gentleman unloading an ATV from an official-looking truck and we struck up a conversation. As it turned out, Greg Seamans of New England Forestry Consultants was the forester for the property, some 900 acres owned for many years by the Makowski family of Massachusetts and managed for timber and hay.

I was quick to extend a sincere thanks to the Makowskis for their generosity in allowing hikers like me to use the path. And with permission, I would now add the Makowski name to the trail description for Crocker Hill in the Maine Mountain Guide, which I have compiled and edited for more than a decade. Attaching a landowner name to a place is an important step in building a connection between the land and the recreational user.

Seamans also maintains the hiking trail on Crocker Hill, which follows an old carriage road to a high point on the west slope, then transitions to a footpath that’s marked with red paint blazes and rock cairns up to the summit. This being my first time here, I was eager to see more, so I bid adieu to Seamans, who had timber stand improvement work on his to-do list.

Partway up the trail on Crocker Hill there’s fine panoramic view west to the White Mountains. Carey Kish photo

As I climbed I looked for the remnants of the two mines that were indicated on a map I’d found online, but to no avail. According to a document posted on the Boston Mineral Club’s website, graphite and molybdenum were once extracted from the Crocker Hill mines, along with quartz and pyrite. Perhaps I needed to search more thoroughly, but it was the view I was really after.

At the junction of the carriage road and the trail is a cleared lookout that features a westerly panorama of the White Mountains, similar I suspect to the one famously portrayed in the 1868 sketch by George L. Vose, whose hand-drawn map profiles a long line of mountains from Pleasant, Chocorua and Kearsarge to Carrigain and Washington. And there they were on full display.


With an iPhone in hand, there was no way to really capture the scene, but I took a bunch of photographs just the same to fix it in my memory (and post on social media, of course). And with the ever useful Peak Finder app, I was able to identify many of the other mountaintops some 40 miles to the west of my scenic stance.

The first part of the trail on Crocker Hill follows an old carriage road. Carey Kish photo

The trail continues over the top to the north and easterly viewpoint established by the Makowskis years ago. As I sat on the decaying log bench, I was filled with gratitude for this place and the countless other natural gems preserved by private landowners all over Maine and so graciously made available to the hiking public. With the surging number of hikers on the trail these days, I was also reminded that practicing “leave no trace” and proper trail etiquette has never been more important, regardless of whose land you’re on.

About that George L. Vose fellow: he was a Maine native, railroad engineer, author of several books and Bowdoin College professor. He was also a member of the White Mountain Club of Portland, the second oldest mountaineering club in North America. Established in 1873, the club predated the venerable Appalachian Mountain Club by three years. The first such club was the Alpine Club of Williamstown, Massachusetts.

The idea for Portland’s White Mountain Club was hatched by six men on a climb of New Hampshire’s Mount Carrigain, a rather arduous adventure that required two guides and four days to accomplish. The club lasted until 1884, but during this brief time its members extensively explored the White Mountains in New Hampshire and Maine, mapping and naming many of the mountains, including Carrigain’s Vose Spur in honor of none other than George L. Vose.

Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island is an award winning member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. His latest book, “Beer Hiking New England,” will be out late in the winter. Follow more of Carey’s adventures on Facebook and Instagram @careykish

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