Hodson and Rheault Trail, Camden

Soon after starting out on this 118-acre-plus parcel, you cross a cool, mossy stream. At about half a mile, you can take a left to do a little loop, or continue another .7 miles of fairly leisurely uphill walking to the blueberry fields. Once you are on the barrens, the summit is another 5-10 minutes of walking along the road. Since it’s open here, it’s obvious where the top/end is. There are pretty views all around. You can’t bring dogs here, but you might see the owner walking his dog, according to the Coastal Mountains Land Trust. (And lo and behold, I did see the owner and his dog!) It’s also important to stay on the trail.

Directions: From Belfast via Route 52 – follow Route 52 south to Lincolnville Center. Turn right onto Route 235. Follow Route 235 to Route 105. Turn left onto Route 105 toward Camden. Follow approximately 2.6 miles to Molyneaux Road. Turn right onto Molyneaux Road and drive approximately .6 miles. The preserve is located on the right, and there is a small pullover for a few cars. 




Merryspring Nature Center, Camden

As you can see from my crazy and messy map, there are a lot of trails at this 66-acre nonprofit center! In my opinion, there are too many trails. It’s quite easy to get disoriented when you’re constantly confronted by intersections. Perhaps it’s a metaphor for a jumbled mind? Anyway, the Nature Center has a really good map. Best to print it out before heading out here. Although, it’s unlikely you’ll get lost in the woods for days on end.

I recommend walking the perimeter of the park, along trail 1, and also checking out the pretty gardens. No dogs allowed, and there is no fee to walk here. It does look like lots of interesting programs take place at Merryspring; it seems like a wonderful resource for locals.

Directions: Merryspring Nature Center is at the end of Conway Road, 3/10 of a mile off Route 1. Conway Road is the first left after Hannaford, or if you’re coming from downtown Camden, it is the first right before the Hannaford grocery store.




Camden Hills State Park, Camden

This is a glorious and popular park that has miles of hiking trails (25 or so?) over small mountains with open rocky ledges and summits that offer sweeping views over the coast and inland. The best way to talk about the park is in thirds, the western section, middle section and eastern section. There are several parking areas around the park so you can start your hike at different locations. Many people begin in the park at what the rangers call the “hiker’s parking lot.”

But personally, my most favorite hike in the park is to Bald Rock Mountain, accessed from the parking area off Youngtown Road. I think it’s less crowded back here, too. This is a quick and not-too-difficult hike to a “bald rock” with the most beautiful views. (The there-and-back trail to Frohock Mountain that is accessible from this trailhead has appeal because it is quiet, but there is no view from the Frohock summit.)

The western section includes Mt. Battie, which has a road up to its peak. I recommend hiking up to Mt. Battie and then over to Adam’s Lookout and to Ocean Lookout for the best views. The summit of Mt. Megunticook, although the highest point in the park, is wooded and has no views. If you have time, head over to Maiden Cliff for some spectacular vistas. Or start here and walk to Ocean Lookout and back.

The middle part of Camden Hills is less crowded than the western and eastern sections. Basically, you can access foot trails from a main track, a wide dirt road (“Multi-use Trail, number 11 on the map). I recommend hiking along this track to trail 6 (Sky Blue trail) or trail 4 (Zeke’s Trail…don’t miss Zeke’s Lookout!), to climb up to the Ridge Trail and over to Mt. Megunticook. From there, head down trail 9 (Slope Trail) and back along the main road. If you have the stamina, Cameron Mountain is also nice! It is basically a bump with blueberry fields.

There is also a beautiful short, flat and wheelchair-accessible shoreline trail on the small bit of the park that spills out across Route 1. You can access it by walking through the parking lot. Bring a picnic!

Check out the Camden-Hills-State-Park-map, with summit elevations.

Directions: From downtown Camden, head north on Route 1 for about two miles to the park’s main entrance on your left. For other parking lots, take Route 52 north and looking for three parking areas on your right, the first two within a couple of miles and the third, for Maiden Cliff Trail, a few more miles down the road. To access the back of the park, take Route 52 to Youngtown Road, on your right, and drive to the junction of Route 173. You’ll see the lot on your right.




Bald Mountain Preserve, Camden


Ragged Mountain trails are blue and purple. Spruce Mountain and Mt. Pleasant are green. Bald Mountain is orange.

A beautiful, popular and short hike to a 1,280-foot summit with lovely views. The hike is about 1.3 miles one way, and there are signs pointing you to the right trail to protect the mountain’s rare and fragile subalpine ecology. For a longer hike, you can continue on to the summit of Ragged and Spruce mountains, across Route 17. The 583-acre preserve is protected by the Coastal Mountains Land Trust.

Directions: From Route One in Camden: Take John Street (0.8 mi.) to Hosmer Pond Road (which becomes Barnestown Road after the Ragged Mountain Recreation Area). Follow 3.5 miles to the new preserve parking lot on the left, just past the Gillette Road. The trail crosses Route 17.

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Ragged Mountain Trails, Camden


Ragged Mountain trails in blue and purple (Bald Mountain trails in orange, and Spruce/Mt. Pleasant mountain trails in green)

Ragged Mountain has many trails. The paths on the Camden Snow Bowl are popular with mountain bikers. A very nice loop from the Snow Bowl is to head up the Hosmer Brook Trail, which, after you get off the mountain, is a footpath for hikers and snowshoers. To find the Hosmer Brook Trail, which is blue blazed, you’ll have to head to the far right of the mountain and start hiking up one of the downhill ski trails called Spinnaker. You’ll see the brook trail headed into the woods, on your right, at about .25 miles. It climbs for 1.2 miles (although you could just do a little loop in the woods and return for a 1.6-mile hike), before reaching the long-distance Georges Highland Path. If you take a left at this point, you’ll walk about .4 miles to the junction with the Snow Bowl’s red trail. Take this down, past the tower (I saw another trail with cairns here, but didn’t explore), and down the mountain. There are some lovely views along the way. It’s about 1.7 miles.

To do this in reverse, the best way to catch the red trail is to either follow the double chairlift up to where it ends at a patch of woods. You’ll see the blazed trail slightly to your right, if you’re looking up the mountain. Or you can start by climbing up the road underneath the triple chair, and at .3 miles, turn left onto a track to cross the ski slope to the double chairlift. Continue walking up, and you’ll see the well-blazed red trail just to the right at the end of the lift.

I have started exploring the eastern side of this trail system, gradually getting closer to NEMBA’s Goose River trail network, which is a system designed for mountain bikers (these are not shown on my map). The Ragged Mountain side trails, as I’m calling them, start from the bunny slope on the Snow Bowl, branching off left about half-way up, and then criss-crossing uphill. You’ll see a trail kiosk in front of and slightly to the left of the bunny slop where you can park. You can also park in front of the tennis courts nearby.

These particular side trails aren’t blazed, as far as I could see, but they’re wide and easy to follow. The main trail is culled Kuller. It will take you to the Coastal Mountains Land Trust’s blazed Ragged Mountain Trail loop (which is wide and easy) and blazed 5 Brooks Trail, which connects to the Goose River trail system. I’ve included some maps and links to help newcomers find their way around this sprawling system. These trails are not groomed for skiing. The Coastal Mountains Land Trust says its trail system here will “be expanded significantly between 2018 and 2020.” Exciting!

Directions: You can plug in Camden Snow Bowl into your GPS — it’ll get you there. The ski area is on your left if you are driving away from Camden on Hosmer Pond Road.

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Georges Highland Path, Ragged Mountain Area, Camden

Ragged Mountain trails are blue and purple. Spruce Mountain and Mt. Pleasant are green. Bald Mountain is orange.

The small mountains behind Camden and Rockport are ideal hiking spots. They are small, so not intimidating, and offer much exposed ledge, making for breathtaking views — often as far as the sea and, on the other side, to Mt. Washington and the White Mountains. The mountains in Camden Hills State Park are very popular, but Ragged, Spruce and Bald mountains are almost as gorgeous, and slightly less popular, I think.

Ragged Mountain’s trails connect to the trail systems of Spruce and Bald mountains, so you can go for a long traverse here. The trails are well-marked and occasionally steep. To summit Ragged Mountain from Route 117, it’s a 2.5-mile hike, much of it on flat land as you walk toward the mountain. Then it’s not too difficult to get to the top, where there is a tower. The trail here veers away from the tower — it’s easy to get confused at this point. Continue on for another mile or so to another high, open point on Buzzard’s Ledge.

Directions to the trailheads: There are three trailheads that hikers can use to access Ragged Mountain: Barnestown Road (north), Hope Street (west), and Route 17 (south). The Barnestown Road trailhead also serves the Bald Mountain Trail. The parking lot here is 1,000 feet south of the intersection of Barnestown and Gillette Roads in Camden. The western trailhead, also known as the Thorndike Brook Trail, is on Hope Street in West Rockport. From the intersection of Routes 17 and 90 in West Rockport, travel 2.5 miles north on Route 17 and turn right onto Hope Street. Travel 0.5 miles to the parking lot on the right. The Route 17 trailhead also serves the Spruce Mountain and Mount Pleasant trails to the west of Ragged Mountain. The parking lot here is 2 miles north of the intersection of Routes 17 and 90 in West Rockport.