This story was originally published in July 2017.
Hiking doesn’t have to be this big daylong undertaking, especially in Maine, where there are hundreds of easy to moderately challenging trails to enjoy. Some of these trails explore small mountains and hills that offer great views.
A couple of years ago, I wrote up a list of 11 easy mountain hikes in Maine that I thought would be great spring adventures. I’ve found 11 more “easy” mountain hikes for you to try.
(By easy, I mean easy to moderately difficult. You won’t see Katahdin on this list, but you will find a smaller mountain that offers an amazing view of Katahdin!)
So let’s get right into it, and in no particular order…
With open ledges near its summit that offer great views, Great Pond Mountain is a popular hiking location in the 4,300-acre Great Pond Mountain Wildlands. Topping off at 1,020 feet above sea level, it’s the tallest mountain in the area, but compared a lot of other Maine mountains, it’s modest in size and fairly easy to climb. Hiking to the summit and back is about 2.5 miles. The trail is well built, marked and maintained. Expect gradual but steady climbing, first through the forest, then over more open terrain with bare bedrock and clumps of lichen and low-lying plants. The trail forms a loop at the top of the mountain, and a side trail travels out to some ledges.
A popular hiking spot for people of the Augusta area, Mount Pisgah Conservation Area is about 800 acres of conserved forestland that features two blue-blazed hiking trails, as well as an old gravel road. All three lead to the top of Mount Pisgah, which stands approximately 980 feet above sea level and is one of the highest points for miles around. Standing atop the mountain is the greatest attraction on the property, a historic but sturdy fire lookout tower, which the public is welcome to climb the sturdy tower on a zigzagging staircase with 79 stairs. From the top of the tower, you’re rewarded with an unobstructed 360-degree view of the region. The two trails on the mountain connect to form a 2-mile loop that travels over unimproved forest floor, narrow bog bridges and rock steps. The climb to the summit of the mountain on these trails is gradual.
The 58-acre Bluff Hill Preserve, owned and maintained by the Blue Hill Heritage Trust, opened to the public in 2016 and features four connecting trails that together total just over 1 mile. The trails are marked with blue blazes and travel over fairly smooth forest floor to the top of a bluff, where you can sit and enjoy a stunning view of the Bagaduce River.
One of the finest rock climbing locations in the state, Eagle Bluff in Clifton is also a great place for a short but rewarding day hike. The bluff rises 700 feet above sea level, and from the top of its granite cliffs, hikers are rewarded with breathtaking views of the area, including Cedar Swamp Pond and the distinctive humps of Little Peaked and Peaked mountains. The steep hike to the top of the bluff and back down is about 1 mile total, and you can lengthen it by taking a side trail to the base of the cliffs. Expect slippery leaf litter and plenty of exposed tree roots and rocks to make footing tricky in some areas. Exercise caution while exploring along the top of the cliffs.
A bald-topped hill in Cherryfield known locally as Young Tunk Mountain has long been a place for area residents to hike and pick wild blueberries. Local children who have climbed the hill call its granite summit the “Top of the World” because it provides wide open views of their towns below. A public trail on the mountain officially opened in 2016. Out and back, the hike is about 1.4 miles. The hill is just over 550 feet above sea level but has a bald summit that offers views of the hill’s namesake, Tunk Mountain, which rises 1,157 feet above sea level in the northwest, as well as Humpback (Lead) Mountain. And on a clear day, a line of wind turbines are faintly visible along the horizon.
Located in Holbrook Island Sanctuary State Park, Backwoods Mountain (also known as Bakeman Mountain) features a few of the many hiking trails located in the park. The Summit Trail, which leads from the trail to the top of the mountain, is 0.7 mile and includes a few steep, rocky sections, and the connecting Mountain Loop Trail circles the base of the mountain and is 1.7 miles long. Though only about 300 feet above sea level, the mountain does provide a partially open view of the area, and a bench has been located at that outlook. But the truly wonderful feature of this mountain is the abundance of moss growing pretty much everywhere throughout the forest. The park is home to several additional hiking trails, including trails that feature the remains old homesteads, old family cemeteries, rocky beaches on the coast, an interpretive nature trail and a waterfall.
The 328-acre Fernald’s Neck Preserve occupies much of a peninsula that juts out into Megunticook Lake, a beautiful body of water in Lincolnville and Camden. While this isn’t technically a mountain, some of the trails (the Blue Trail and the Orange Trail) travel over rocky, mountain-like terrain to open views on cliffs along the shore. The terrain of the preserve is hilly, rising to over 200 feet above sea level near the shore. Altogether, the trails total 3.5 miles.
Rising 407 feet above sea level, Kebo Mountain is one of the shortest named peaks in Acadia National Park that can be explored by public hiking trail. Located just outside downtown Bar Harbor, the small mountain is easy to find and offers a relatively quiet hike compared to other, more popular mountains in the park. The 0.9-mile Kebo Mountain Trail travels along the ridge of Kebo Mountain, north to south, over rocky terrain. For the most part, the slope of the ridge is gradual, with just a few steep steps along the way. Though this mountain only offers partial views of the region, it’s a nice little introduction into hiking in Acadia National Park.
Located in the new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, Barnard Mountain rises 1,621 feet above sea level and features a short hike with a big reward. The hike is 4 miles, out and back, with about half it along an old logging road, and the rest on a traditional hiking path that gradually climbs the mountain, switchbacking through a young forest to a beautiful outlook near the summit. From the open granite ledge at the end of the trail, hikers are greeted with a view of the mountainous Baxter State Park, with Katahdin front and center.
The hike to the summit of Morse Mountain and Seawall Beach runs through the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area, a 600-acre property that lies on the coast between the banks of Sprague River and Morse River, and extends to the ocean. The walk is about 4 miles, out and back, and travels to the summit of Morse Mountain — just under 180 feet above sea level — then down to Seawall Beach. The entire walk is on an old road that is closed off to public traffic (barred by a locked gate) but used by property owners on Morse Mountain. Some of the road is pavement, while other portions are gravel. From the rocky summit of the mountain, you’ll be able to see the from the winding Sprague River and surrounding wetlands, all the way to the ocean. And at Seawall Beach, you won’t be disappointed. It’s one of the largest, sandiest beaches in Maine.
Hiking across the sandbar to Bar Island is a popular adventure for summer visitors to Mount Desert Island. However, this little hike has gotten a few people in trouble over the years. The sandbar is only exposed for three hours each day, 1.5 hours before and after low tide. It then disappears under the ocean, leaving anyone remaining on the island trapped (or swimming). This hike is exactly two miles, out and back, and this includes the sandbar and beach walking. The trail dead-ends at the highest point on Bar Island, which is 173 feet above sea level and provides a unique perspective of the bustling town of Bar Harbor.