This is a bonus hike for Best Easy Day Hikes Greenville. The only bad review I’ve ever gotten on Amazon was someone complaining that almost none of the hikes in this guide are easy. Well, White Cap isn’t either. It’s a moderate hike. A 6.6 miles out and back with 2112 feet of climbing.
At 3654 feet, White Cap is the highest mountain between the Bigelows and Katahdin. From its open summit, you have spectacular panoramic views. The mountain is visible from as far away as Bangor. In early winter and spring, it’s bare summit holds snow sooner and longer, thus its name.
There are three ways to get there. Twenty five years ago the most common way was to drive to High Bridge off the K-I road. The road continued up into a high valley at the foot of White Cap. It had been a log yard and was covered with young, shrubby hardwoods. It was a great place to find moose. From there you took White Brook Trail, climbing into the saddle between Hay and White Cap Mountains. This trail was the old fire wardens trail. It’s a very steep trail. Today, the forest has returned and the road is undrivable beyond High Bridge. It’s almost three miles from there to the White Brook Trailhead. Needless the say, this route has fallen out of favor.
You can also get to White Cap by following the Appalachian Trail from the Gulf Hagas Trailhead north to the summit. That’s more than a twenty mile out and back. The third option is the best and the one described here.
Drive north on Lily Bay Road from the blinking light in Greenville. Drive 17.7 miles. Just before reaching Katadjo and Roach River, turn right onto Frenchtown Road. Drive 13.8 miles. Stay straight ahead on Frenchtown Road the whole time. There’s one section between two bridges where the road passes between the West Branch Ponds. The road here is narrower and rougher. Otherwise, the road is wide and well-maintained. My Honda Fit made it with no problem. Park on the shoulder just before the gate across the road. The trailhead is the gate. (The first 0.4 miles of the hike are on the road beyond the gate.) Trailhead GPS: N45° 34.600' W69° 13.818'
0.0 Gate across Frenchtown Road.
0.4 Follow the road to the Appalachian Trail. Turn right (southbound) onto the AT.
1.2 Climb steadily then more gradually to a small brook.
2.0 After crossing the brook, you’ll hear Logan Brook below you. The trail climbs gently on the side-hill above the brook. Most of the time you can only hear it tumbling over rocks and its gravel bed. Pass the side trail to the privy. Just past that the trail makes a hard left at Logan Brook Lean-to. Before continuing, follow a trail down to the brook in front of the lean-to. It ends at a nice pool at the base of a small but picturesque waterfall.
2.3 The trail turns away from Logan Brook and climbs steadily to the crown of a ridge. The trail turns right and follows the ridge.
2.4 Climb more gently. The trail passes an overlook with a great view of Logan Brook’s deep valley and the woods to the north.
2.7 Climb steadily above the headwaters of Logan Brook, which noisily drops from the mountainside below the trail.
3.1 Climb steadily. Lots of steps. The trees become all spruce and get shorter. Almost without realizing it, you have views in every direction except straight ahead. You can see Big and Little Spencer to the northwest and Katahdin to the northeast. To the east is a group of rugged untrailed mountains.
3.3 The trail loops around the spruce-covered summit, staying on open rock. The trail reaches the summit atop a slope of loose rock (this is the white cap visible from Bangor). The Appalachian Trail continues southbound across Hay and Gulf Hagas Mountains before descending to Pleasant River. But your hike is at its end.