A hiker on the summit of Moxie Bald. Ron Chase photos

Last winter, my son, Adam, and I completed a very stimulating climb of Mosquito Mountain near Moxie Pond in western Maine. From the summit, we enjoyed a spectacular view of Moxie Bald Mountain, a peak that dominates the opposite side of the pond. The wonderful view motivated a planned ascent of the exposed pinnacle later in the winter.

Accessing the trailhead for Moxie Bald is a challenge, especially in winter. Despite several tentative plans to climb the barren summit last winter, we were unable to make the necessary arrangements to overcome the obstacles.

For us, hiking begins in earnest when fall arrives. Rather than wait for the complications winter brings, Adam and I decided on an early November Moxie Bald trek while the roads were free of ice and snow.

Climbing Moxie Bald has been something of a family affair over the years. My wife, Nancy, and I have completed the hike several times. A couple of decades ago, my oldest son, Eric, and I backpacked to the summit where we enjoyed a star-filled night on top. This would be the first attempt for Adam and me.

We met in West Forks on a cool, breezy, partly sunny day. Driving northeast on Lake Moxie Road, we experienced a surprising encounter. In a heavily wooded sector, a furry four-legged creature was ambling across the road. Slowing the vehicle for a closer view, the tufted ears and small tail were unmistakable; it was a Canadian lynx. The big cat quickly disappeared into the woods before either of us could find a camera. The rare sighting was a positive omen for our upcoming adventure.

Hikers enjoy exceptional views from ledges above tree line on Moxie Bald.

Arriving at Moxie Pond, we turned right onto Troutdale Road. The rough narrow dirt passageway was initially in fair condition. The surface worsens traveling farther south on the former railroad bed, as flooding has severely eroded a lengthy segment of road. Careful maneuvering was required in our all-wheel drive vehicle.


The Appalachian Trail provides the only trail access to Moxie Bald. The AT crosses Troutdale Road a little beyond the southern end of Moxie Pond. The water level in that low-lying area was too high for hiking. We continued to a junction on the left and followed a rutted, rocky road northeasterly to another, higher-elevation AT crossing.

We began our trek in a predominantly hardwood forest with the trail engulfed in recently fallen leaves. Although the path was mostly dry, there were a few wet areas that needed to be skirted. Gaining elevation, we entered a dense stand of conifers on a granite surface that was ideal for hiking.

The AT separates after a couple of miles. A right turn leads to the summit while traveling left bypasses the peak. Angling right, we progressed steadily upwards towards the top. Gigantic boulders clutter the path in several locations. Open ledges provided us with exceptional views of the mountains to the west.

We emerged onto a continuum of narrow elevated ledges that seemed like a highway to heaven. The views were phenomenal in all directions as we persisted to the summit. Although windy, we donned parkas and paused to embrace the fabulous 360-degree vistas.

I pointed out the grassy spot where Eric and I erected our tent many years ago. In a perfect world, he and Nancy would have been there to share the moment.

From the summit, we had a clear view of impressive North Peak. Although remaining daylight was limited due to the recent time change, we decided to attempt an ascent.


Based on our research, it appeared the most efficient route was to return to the junction and follow the bypass east to North Peak Trail. We completed the partial descent and began our search.

Alas, our efforts were unsuccessful. We followed the rolling path to where the bypass reconnects with the AT without any sign of North Peak Trail. Viewed from open ledges, the barren summit appeared to be at least a mile away. There was insufficient time to complete a climb if we wanted to return before dark. North Peak would have to wait for another day.

During our drive out after completing the trek, we resolved to attempt another North Peak ascent in the near future. Maybe we’ll get a second glimpse of the lynx.

My book, “Maine Al Fresco: The Fifty Finest Outdoor Adventures in Maine,” narrates nine more exceptional mountain hikes around the state.

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 ronchaseoutdoors@comcast.net.

Narrow, elevated ledges near the summit seem like a “highway to heaven.”

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