Posted on September 22, 2022 and last updated on October 17, 2022

Mt. Kineo State Park, near Rockwood

QUICK TRAIL FACTS

  • Preserve Size: 1,150 acres
  • Trail Mileage: ~6.8 miles in network
  • Pets: yes
  • Difficulty: easy to challenging
  • Sights: extraordinary views, gravel beach

The 700-foot cliffs of Mt. Kineo rise seemingly straight up from Moosehead Lake, reminding me of those craggy, eroded limestone karsts of Hạ Long Bay in Vietnam.

From the comparatively undramatic shores of Rockwood, the cliffs honestly don’t look surmountable except by rock climbers. But in fact the hike to the amazing views from its open cliff face is manageable for the average hiker.

The easiest way to access the island is via the 10-minute ferry shuttle that leaves hourly from the boat launch in Rockwood. It runs daily from May through October, and in 2022 cost $14 per person round trip.

The boat drops you off close to the main trailhead, where you will begin your hike on the flat and easy Carriage Trail. The path is packed gravel and should be accessible for most wheelchairs up to the intersection with the Bridle Trail—albeit there are some stones breaking the trail surface.

Note: As you curve around the cliff face on the Carriage Trail, you’ll come across a few large flat rocks at the path’s side that look like good places to launch yourself into the lake for a swim!

If you have just a couple of hours, I recommend hiking up the 0.5-mile Indian Trail. Though it is very steep and rocky, you have periodic magnificent views along the way. Close to the junction with the Bridle Trail you’ll reach the greatest view from an open grassy section at the top of the cliff. Circle back down the less steep 0.7-mile Bridle Trail — that is, if you want to keep your hike shortish and return the way you came along the Carriage Trail to the ferry dock (~0.8 miles from the intersection with Indian Trail).

Once you have made the climb up, you could, alternatively, continue 0.4 miles along the cliff to the wooded summit of Mt. Kineo (1,789 feet). If you are not afraid of heights, you can climb the tower for a what I hear is an incredible view. So, from the dock to the tower, it’s about 1.7 miles.

If you want to avoid going up all together, remaining on flat terrain, you can walk along the easy Carriage Trail for the length of the western side of the island (~2.2 miles), keeping close to the water’s edge. The path narrows and roughens after the intersection with the Bridle Trail. At the island’s northwestern end, you’ll reach Hardscrabble Point, which is funny name for a sweet spot. There is an open grassy clearing here (camping is allowed), with picnic tables and a small beach. Go for a swim!

If you have several hours and want to hike the entire loop around the island, be warned that the North Trail has a very steep section to Mt. Kineo’s summit. The total mileage, if you hike Indian Trail to North Trail and return via the Carriage Trail, is about 6.1 miles.

Directions:
From downtown Greenville travel north 19.5 miles on Route 15 toward Rockwood. Turn right marked with signs for the Kineo Docks. From the Kineo docks it is about a 10 minute ferry ride to Kineo. In the summer there is a shuttle that leaves from the public boat landing in Rockwood every hour, although the schedule may vary. A shuttle fee is charged.

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Let me know if you have any trail updates or corrections!