25 awesome lesser-known Maine hikes

This story was originally published in March 2015.

While hiking throughout Maine on a weekly basis to write my “1-minute hike” column, I’ve discovered a number of jackpot hiking spots that don’t seem to get a lot of foot traffic.

Here are 25 of those places, broken down by region.

Juno pauses near the top of Schoodic Mountain on Nov. 2, 2022, in Donnell Pond Public Land. The view includes the ocean and mountains of Mount Desert Island. Credit: Courtesy of Aislinn Sarnacki

Franklin area mountains: All mountains listed below provide stunning views of the area and are home to mature forest full of moss, lichen and giant boulders. This region is truly beautiful. Many of the trails are located in the Donnell Pond Unit, 15,384 acres of reserved land in townships of T7 SD, T9 SD, T10 SD; and the towns of Franklin and Sullivan.

  • Schoodic Mountain: A 3-mile hike to the summit at 1,069 feet above sea level.
  • Black Mountain: Just over 1,000 feet in elevation. Hiking to the East Peak via Big Chief Trail and back down takes about two hours. There is also a longer loop hike.
  • Tunk Mountain: A 3.5-mile hike to the summit at 1,157 feet above sea level.
  • Catherine Mountain: A 1.4-mile hike to the summit at 942 feet above sea level. Rumored to be haunted by the ghost of Catherine.
  • Tucker Mountain: A 1-mile hike to the top at 397 feet above sea level and nice views.
  • Caribou Mountain: You can hike up to the summit (at about 900 feet above sea level) and back at about 2 miles, or you could opt for a 6-mile loop or even 8-mile loop.
  • Hidden Ponds: About a 2-mile hike at the base of Tunk Mountain to pristine, scenic ponds with bare ledges.
Aislinn Sarnacki leans on a boulder beside the Horserace Brook Trail on Dec. 7, 2013, in the Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area near Millinocket. Credit: Courtesy of Derek Runnels

Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area: Owned and maintained by The Nature Conservancy, this area beside Baxter State Park is nearly 50,000 acres and includes a stretch of the National Scenic Appalachian Trail and several other hiking trails to pristine lakes and ponds.

  • Horserace Brook Trail: A 2-mile trail leads gradually uphill to Horserace Ponds.
  • Debsconeag Ice Caves: A 1-mile trail travels through a mossy forest to caves that contain ice into the summer months. The trail continues a short distance to a lake.
  • Little Hurd Pond and Rainbow Ledges: From the Golden Road, you can take the Appalachian Trail into the Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area 3.3 miles to Hurd Brook Hut and Little Hurd Pond or 6 miles to Rainbow Ledges.
Great Pond can be seen from a clearing at the top of Mount Phillip in Rome, Maine, on Sept. 20, 2012. Credit: Aislinn Sarnacki / BDN

The Rome mountains: Several small mountains in central Maine are accessible by trails and are a part of the Kennebec Highlands, which at 6,500 acres is the largest contiguous block of conserved land in central Maine. The land was conserved by the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance’s Land Trust, which maintains the trails.

  • Sanders Hill: A 2.9-mile loop travels up and along the ridge of Sanders Hill, which reaches its highest point at 854 feet above sea level.
  • Round Top Mountain: The loop hike to the summit at 1,133 feet above sea level, including the spur trail to views near the top, is 4.5 miles total.
  • The Mountain: The trail network is about 1.5 miles long and leads to the summit at 665 feet above sea level.
  • Mount Phillip: The 1.3-mile loop trail on this mountain leads to the summit at 755 feet above sea level.
A cairn marks a trail that travels up the south side of Ragged Mountain on Jan. 2, 2020, in Rockport. Credit: Aislinn Sarnacki / BDN

Georges Highland Path: A 50-mile network of trails in Midcoast Maine, this “path” leads to the top of some of the area’s most scenic mountains but also travels over easier, level terrain to historic sites and beautiful natural areas, such as bogs. The following are just a few of the many hikes that are a part of the Georges Highland Path.

  • Spruce Mountain: The 2.3-mile trail on the mountain leads to several outlooks near the mountain’s summit, which is about 900 feet above sea level.
  • Canal Path: A 2-mile hike that leads along the remains of a canal built in the 1700s and includes educational displays about the canal and the forestry in the area.
  • Ragged Mountain: The hike is 4.8 miles to the summit (at 1,300 feet in elevation) and back down.
  • Thomaston Town Forest: The 3.5-mile trail travels over fairly even terrain, but it includes several bog bridges and some soggy, overgrown sections.
The rocky ridge to the South Peak of Doubletop Mountain is seen from the North Peak on July 24, 2021, in Baxter State Park. Credit: Aislinn Sarnacki / BDN

Individual hikes that are lesser-known: Here are a few additional trails that don’t seem to be traveled as much as the trails around them, but are still amazing hikes.

  • Mount Abraham in Kingfield: This mountain has an impressive ridgeline that extends for about 4.5 miles and consists of eight peaks ranging from 3,400 feet to more than 4,000 feet – the tallest being 4,049 feet above sea level and topped by an old fire tower. One of my favorite hikes, it is about 8 miles and leads to the highest of the peaks.
  • Doubletop Mountain in Baxter State Park: Rising 3,488 feet above sea level, the mountain has a recognizable profile — a nearly symmetrical cone shape with steep slopes and two distinct peaks. Hiking the mountain, depending on the route you take, is between 6.6 miles and 7.6 miles total.
  • Great Head Trail in Acadia National Park: The trail forms a 1.4-mile loop over the rocky, scenic coast of Mount Desert Island to the ruins of an old tea house. Nearby is the park’s famous Sand Beach.
  • Fernald’s Neck Preserve in Lincolnville: The 328-acre preserve occupies much of a peninsula that juts out into Megunticook Lake. It’s home to an old evergreen forest, nearly 4 miles of shoreline, The Great Bog, and about 3.5 miles of walking trails.
  • Trenton Community Trail: The entire hike, including a short bog boardwalk, is 2.4 miles. This trail opened to the public in 2013 and travels through a beautiful forest to a small bog.
  • Baker Hill in Sullivan: The hill rises just a few hundred feet above sea level, yet from its granite ledges, hikers can see all the way to the ocean and mountains of Mount Desert Island. Trails leading to the ledges are less than 0.5 mile long but form a network that could take a few hours to explore.
  • Old Pond Railway Trail in Hancock: The Old Pond Railway Trail follows nearly 3 miles of the former Maine Shoreline Railway, which was last traveled by train in the 1980s. From the east trailhead, it’s less than a mile to Old Pond, the most scenic area of ​​the trail.

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