A hiker enjoys a view of Moxie Pond and Moxie Bald Mountain from an overlook on Mosquito Mountain. Ron Chase photos

Mosquito Mountain has a very unappealing name. I don’t like mosquitos or black flies and do my best to avoid them when participating in outdoor activities. After decades of scrupulous plotting and scheming, I’ve become quite adept at eluding the nasty little bloodsuckers. And, I can say with great certainty that mosquitos will not be encountered on Mosquito Mountain near West Forks in January.

My son, Adam, is living in the West Forks area this winter, so we decided to use the opportunity to complete some winter mountain hikes in the vicinity. Two mountains have particular appeal for us: Moxie Bald and Mosquito. Both located near Moxie Pond, we’ve ascended them several times in non-winter months but never in the winter.

Access to both peaks is via rough dirt roads, and the trailheads are often difficult to reach in winter. Adam confirmed that Troutdale Road, which travels along the west shore of Moxie Pond, was plowed to Mosquito Mountain Trailhead, and there was space to park at least two vehicles. Recent snowstorms and other complications had rendered Moxie Bald a mountain too far.

Red blazes marked the route on the Mosquito Mountain Trail.

The skies were gray, temperatures cold and winds breezy when we met at the Mosquito Mountain trailhead. Varied weather consisting of gusty winds and partly sunny skies with the chance of snow showers was the forecast for higher elevations. Although a relatively short outing, the trail had not been broken, so we anticipated a serious workout. Sources differ on the actual length, but we estimated our roundtrip trek to be in the range of 3.5 miles, perhaps a little longer. Snowshoes were definitely required, and we decided to carry micro-spikes in the event ledges in the summit area were ice-covered.

We found the trail-breaking strenuous. A thick layer of crust covered about a foot of powdery snow with hard-packed snow and ice under. Each step required breaking through the crust, sinking deep into the snow, gaining traction, and then taking the next step. There are lots of benefits to being a dad. One of the best is winter hiking with a much younger son who insists on doing most of the trail-breaking. Adam did the lion’s share on our excursion.

Initially, we hiked through a sparse mixed hardwood and softwood forest. Glimpses of blue sky were encouraging. We were wishfully hoping for exceptional views in the summit area. The trail steepened as we entered a dense conifer forest under a spectacular canopy of snow-covered spruce trees. Although trail finding was difficult in some areas, welcome red blazes reassured us that we were on track.


A huge, overhanging boulder alerted us that we were nearing the impressive Mosquito Mountain ledges. The gradient increased to precipitous. Progress slowed as gaining traction with our snowshoe claws was very difficult on an icy under-surface. Our exertions were rewarded with some relief as we proceeded to a boulder-strewn area where the trail leveled off.

As we approached an east-facing overlook, the trail again rose abruptly. Fortuitously, the clouds diminished and partly sunny skies greeted us on arrival. The barren, expansive escarpment offered phenomenal views of Moxie Pond and the mountains beyond. Our next mountain objective, prominent Moxie Bald, dominated the landscape on the opposite side of the pond.

The summit of Mosquito Mountain provides panoramic vistas of the surrounding area. Ron Chase photo

Renewing the quest, deep-crusted snow, icy sections, blowdowns and a short, near-vertical ascent hindered our advancement. We considered switching from snowshoes to micro-spikes, but the conditions were so varied neither alternative was consistently a good choice.

We lost the trail in a baffling array of blowdowns. Bushwhacking upwards through a thick stand of stunted spruce trees seemed the best strategy. Our perseverance finally paid dividends when we emerged onto a succession of open ledges. A hard-packed snow surface was ideal for snowshoeing to the summit where outstanding panoramic vistas were gratifying compensation for our efforts.

Donning parkas was necessary to protect from frosty winds while taking a break for photos and snacks. Ominously, dark clouds were approaching from the west. By the time we gathered packs and began our descent, snow showers enveloped us. Despite worsening visibility, we found an improved route around the blowdowns. Our trail-breaking during the climb facilitated an easy return.

Moxie Bald is next on our winter bucket list. Mosquito Mountain deserves a better name.

Ron Chase resides in Topsham. His latest book, “Maine Al Fresco: The Fifty Finest Outdoor Adventures in Maine” is available at northcountrypress.com/maine-al-fresco or in bookstores and through online retailers. His previous books are “The Great Mars Hill Bank Robbery” and “Mountains for Mortals – New England.” Visit his website at ronchaseoutdoors.com or he can be reached at [email protected]

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