Appalachian Mountain Club Maine Woods Initiative

The AMC started to conserve land in the North Woods in 2003, when it bought the Little Lyford Lodge and 37,000 acres. Today, its Maine Woods Initiative encompasses 100,000 acres, three amazing wilderness lodges, and many miles of great trails.

One of the best parts of this area is it’s wonderful to visit throughout the year. Trails are groomed for Nordic skiing in the winter, and lovely to hike in the summer and fall. We’ve slowly been exploring this area, and each visit, we appreciate it more.

Summer trails:


    • Little Lyford Pond Trails — Trails meander around the ponds near Little Lyford Lodge, with great views of Indian Mountain.
    • Baker Pond Trail — A flat and easy 1.7 mile to remote Baker Pond, with a lovely view of Baker Mountain behind it.
    • Gorman Loop — I hear this is a wonderful 4.4-mile loop for birding! Otherwise, I would hike other trails.
    • Hermit Point Trail — A short 0.3-mile trail through woods to a rocky peninsula with a lovely view over Long Pond.


    • Indian Mountain —Hike 1.4 to the first outstanding views from Laurie’s Ledge. Continue another 0.5 miles to views west of Elephant Mountain. Katahdin is visible on clear days.
    • Indian Pond —This pond is not as beautiful, I think, as West and East Chairback Ponds, and it is quite a long walk up and over the ridge (about 4 miles one way).


    • Gulf Hagas — Check out the impressive deep gorge and its many falls on the Rim Trail. Be ready for a hard hiking day.
    • Barren Mountain — I’ve only hiked this from the western side. You can also reach it from the AMC Maine Woods Initiative if you start at the trailhead for Third Mountain, and then hike the AT over Fourth Mountain to reach the Barren summit. But it’s a lovely hike.

Winter trails:

  • The skiing is amazing from the three AMC lodges: Medawisla, Little Lyford, and Gorman Chairback! I haven’t done all the trails yet. I also haven’t done the complete lodge-to-lodge circuit (which includes the non-AMC lodge, West Branch Pond Camps). But what I have done has been glorious skiing over groomed trails, with fabulous accommodations at the wilderness lodges (which offer three meals, all-you-can-eat gorp, knowledgable and friendly staff, and rustic but comfortable cabins).