Beech Cliffs Trail by Greg Westrich

Beech Mountain Trail in Acadia is the shortest hike on the WW25 list. You can do it as a 1.0 mile out and back or as a 2.0 miles loop. The trail starts at the far end of the parking lot above the south shore of Echo Lake. The parking lot is mostly for access to the beach. In the summer the lot fills up. On those days, you can reach the top of the trail from the Beech Mountain parking area (it’s less than 0.5 miles from the parking area at the end of Beech Mountain Road to the top of the ladders).

Beech Cliffs from the beach. The trail ascends in the saddle between Beech Cliffs (R) and Canada Cliffs (L)

Beech Cliffs from the beach. The trail ascends in the saddle between Beech Cliffs (R) and Canada Cliffs (L)

The trail switchbacks up through the woods to the base of the cliffs. Along the way, you pass a short side trail that leads to an overlook. The first ladder transitions the hike from the woods to the cliffs.

The first ladder

The first ladder

You then hike next to a high vertical face among towering pines.

The trail goes around the rock,  but Henry couldn’t help himself

The trail goes around the rock, but Henry couldn’t help himself


The second ladder—the highest of the four—gets you above the vertical face you’ve just walked along.

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Above the second ladder, you climb up into a narrowing chimney. There are iron railings and two ladders. Then you pop out atop an open granite expanse where Canada Cliffs transitions into Beech Cliffs.

Looking down the third ladder to the top of the second ladder

Looking down the third ladder to the top of the second ladder

Henry looking down into the chimney we just hiked out of

Henry looking down into the chimney we just hiked out of

What Henry sees: The fourth and third ladders from above

What Henry sees: The fourth and third ladders from above

Once at the top, you have to decide how you want to get back to the trailhead. The shortest way is to go back the way you came. But what fun is that? If you turn left and follow Canada Cliffs Trail, you can make a loop back to the parking area. Either way, first turn right had hike the 0.4 miles loop atop Beech Cliffs. You get fine views in every direction.

Looking southeast from Beech Cliffs (I can see my car)

Looking southeast from Beech Cliffs (I can see my car)

Looking northeast from Beech Cliffs across Echo Lake with Eagle Lake in the middle distance and the mountains around Donnell Pond on the horizon

Looking northeast from Beech Cliffs across Echo Lake with Eagle Lake in the middle distance and the mountains around Donnell Pond on the horizon






Champlain Mountain (The Precipice and Orange & Black Trails) by Greg Westrich

This sign near the trailhead applies to both The Precipice and Orange & Black Trails

This sign near the trailhead applies to both The Precipice and Orange & Black Trails

This two-fer hike is one of the most exposed hikes in Maine. To get to the summit of Champlain Mountain from the park loop road you gain more than 900 feet in elevation in 1.0 mile. That doesn’t sound too steep, but the route involves several hanging bridges, narrow ledges, and iron rungs even before you get to the vertical section. The vertical section includes several iron ladders bolted to vertical faces, iron rungs and railings to help you cross narrow ledges. It’s a serious climb. In fact, hikers have fallen and died on this hike.

WARNING: Peregrine falcons nest on the cliffs. As a result, the trails are usually closed from May until the chicks fledge in August. Check the park’s website to make sure the trail is open before planning your trip. The best time to visit is usually September or October: there aren’t any crowds and the park loop road is still open. You can visit in the spring, but the road is usually closed, which adds to your hiking (the best option then is to park along ME3 at the head of The Tarn and climb Champlain Mountain via Beechcroft Trail. This adds 2.4 miles to the hike, but it’s a great route).

The top of the steep section

The top of the steep section


The hike starts at the Precipice parking area on the park loop road (between Bar Harbor and Sand Beach—it’s just before the entrance gate). The whole loop—up Precipice, down Champlain North Ridge, and back Orange & Black is just 2.4 miles. In all, you’ll climb about 1300 feet (in my guides, I always track gross climbing not net).

Slabbing around the cliffs on the approach

Slabbing around the cliffs on the approach

The trail climbs away from the parking area. Pretty quickly you need to do some easy rock climbs. The trail next climbs up and across a boulder field before slabbing around the cliff base. This section is a hint of what comes later—here you get some exposure without the climbing.

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This section goes up and down with railings, bridges, and cut stones wedged into cracks. You have a nice view of Frenchman’s Bay. Just when you’re getting into a rhythm, you come to another sign at a fork. Turn left and begin the real climbing. The trail to the right is the Orange & Black Trail that you’ll return on.

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I have to admit that I only have limited photos from the vertical section—I was too busy sucking rock to let go and take pictures. If heights don’t really bother you, the climb is fun with great views. My son Henry claims it’s not scary at all. Check it out and decide for yourself.

Two sets of rungs

Two sets of rungs

Looking down from where the previous shot was taken. That’s the parking lot in the washed out part of the photo.

Looking down from where the previous shot was taken. That’s the parking lot in the washed out part of the photo.

The rungs end and the trail domes to the summit. From there follow Champlain North Ridge Trail. You descend with spectacular views of Bar Harbor and the Porcupine Islands in Frenchman’s Bay.

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Once down off the bare granite, you turn right and descend steeply to the Orange & Black Trail. Turn right on it at a place I call the patio. The Orange & Black Trail back to Precipice Trail slabs around the cliffs climbing and descending. You often have to climb or dance across narrow ledges or steps. It’s not really dangerous like the Precipice, but it deserves its place on the Wicked Wild 25 list. Like many of the original trails on Dorr Mountain, Orange & Black Trail has some really amazing rock work.

Steps up a chimney

Steps up a chimney


That oak tree photo bombed my shot of Emma

That oak tree photo bombed my shot of Emma

Katahdin (Abol, Hunt, Cathedral, and Knife Edge Trails) by Greg Westrich

Katahdin from the shore of Martin Pond

Katahdin from the shore of Martin Pond

Four trails on Katahdin are included on the Wicked Wild 25. They are Abol, Hunt, Knife Edge, and Cathedral Trails. Technically, Hamlin Ridge is on Katahdin as well, but most folks tend to think of North Basin and the peaks around it as a separate mountain. All five of these trails are accessed from trailheads in the southern part of Baxter State Park. For specific directions to each trailhead, check my guide Hiking Maine’s Baxter State Park or the park’s website. There’s a park entrance fee for folks from out of state. It’s best when climbing Katahdin to make a reservation. That way if you get to the park entrance by 7:00am, you have a guaranteed parking spot. On nice summer days, the parking lots generally fill up before 7:00.

Katahdin from Blueberry Knoll in the North Basin

Katahdin from Blueberry Knoll in the North Basin

My favorite route over Katahdin begins at Roaring Brook. You climb to Pamola Peak, then cross the Knife Edge to Baxter Peak. You return via Saddle Trail to Chimney Pond and then back to Roaring Brook. This loop is 9.6 miles. You can extend the loop by returning down Hamlin Ridge rather than Saddle (and picking up a second WW25 trail). This route is longer, but is very scenic and less crowded.

The climb up Helon Taylor Trail to Pamola Peak is gorgeous. Sure you climb almost 3500, but the open vistas make you forget all the work you’re doing. From Pamola Peak, you have a great view of Great Basin and the mountain surrounding it.

Pamola Peak from the Knife Edge

Pamola Peak from the Knife Edge


To begin the Knife Edge, you descend into The Chimney. To me, this is the only scary part of the Knife Edge Trail. You basically rock climb down to the flat floor of The Chimney, then rock climb up to Chimney Peak. Both climbs are nearly vertical in narrow chimneys with good holds. Once on Chimney Peak, you start the Knife Edge proper. This narrow arete of broken rock offers amazing views. The sides of the Knife Edge are nearly vertical, but you rarely feel like you’re in danger. There really aren’t any “no fall” sections.

Rollercoastering along the Knife Edge as clouds caress the rock

Rollercoastering along the Knife Edge as clouds caress the rock

The trail crosses the crenelated ridge, usually on the inside, looking down into Great Basin. You still get views to the south, though. Once I spotted a cow moose in a boggy pond in the saddle between Katahdin and Rum Mountain. Eventually, the ridge widens and you climb to South Peak, then Baxter Peak. The route trends uphill, but only gains about 300 feet in all.


The cairn on Baxter Peak’s summit makes Katahdin exactly one mile high

The cairn on Baxter Peak’s summit makes Katahdin exactly one mile high

I have to admit that most days I don’t stop on the summit. They’re usually just too many people. On any given summer day, about half the people hiking in the park are on Katahdin. The park does a good job of limiting access (by controlling parking) but it’s still doesn’t feel like wilderness. Especially with that one guy talking loudly on his cell phone. It is kinda fun in late summer to watch thru hikers complete their journey and celebrate in front of the AT sign.

Looking across the Tableland to Baxter Peak from near the Gateway on Hunt Trail

Looking across the Tableland to Baxter Peak from near the Gateway on Hunt Trail

The AT hikers arrived at the summit via Hunt Trail. This is the most direct route to Baxter Peak. It earned its place on the Wicked Wild 25 for two reasons. First, just above treeline the trail passes through a boulder field. There are several climbs that require iron rungs. You also have to traverse some narrow ledges. Nothing too dangerous. Just enough to get the adrenaline pumping. Second, the upper section of Hunt Spur below The Gateway is very steep. The ridge is narrow. When the wind is blowing—and it usually is—you feel like your going to fly off the mountain and land somewhere near Millinocket.

The boulder section

The boulder section



Don’t look down

Don’t look down



Looking up the steep section below the Gateway

Looking up the steep section below the Gateway

Abol Trail is actually the shortest route to Baxter Peak. The trail used to go right up a slide. This was the route Thoreau used to climb to the Tableland (where rain and wind forced him to turn back). Several years ago the park decided the route was too dangerous—the rocks moved and were unstable. The middle section of Abol Trail was moved from the slide to the steep ridge to its west. The net result was a hike with better views. There are also really cool weather-scultured rocks along the route. You still have the top section of the slide to deal with. It’s very steep and the boulders are large. You end up having to do a fair amount of rock climbing.

Hunt Spur from the new section of trail

Hunt Spur from the new section of trail



Looking down the old trail

Looking down the old trail

The upper section

The upper section

At the top of the climb, you reach the Tableland near Thoreau Spring. From there it’s an easy walk to Baxter Peak.

The last trail on Katahdin that made the WW25 list is Cathedral. This trail descends from Saddle Trail near Baxter Peak to the floor of Great Basin. It’s a steep drop with some exposure. The orange granite blocks are large—you repeatedly have to drop six feet or so. Much of it’s like a giant staircase. But because the ridge the trail follows is within the basin’s ring, you have a unique and unparalleled view. Many hikers say to never descend Cathedral, but that’s the only direction I’ve hiked it.

High on Cathedral Trail, looking down at Chimney Pond

High on Cathedral Trail, looking down at Chimney Pond

On Cathedral Trail

On Cathedral Trail

What about Dudley Trail? Dudley Trail has been closed for a couple of years—a landslide took out part of it. It’s supposed to reopen in 2020. I’ll decide then if the new route is worth adding to the list. It’ll certainly be worth hiking, but will it be Wicked Wild?



Mount Coe by Greg Westrich

Mount Coe from Mount O-J-I. The trail goes up the slide, which earns the mountain its WW25 spot

Mount Coe from Mount O-J-I. The trail goes up the slide, which earns the mountain its WW25 spot

West of the Klondike is a series of mountains known as Katahdinaughuoh. The are (from south to north) Mount O-J-I, Mount Coe, South Brother, and North Brother. All have open summits with spectacular views of Katahdin and the surrounding country. For my money, the view from North Brother is the best in the state. The trails on the four mountains are all connected, offering the possibility of several loops of varying difficultly. Okay, they’re all pretty hard, but worth it.

It used to be that the trail up O-J-I followed the slides that gave the mountain its name. They no longer spell out the name—ongoing sliding had filled in and connected the letters. The park moved the trail to the west end of the mountain for safety reasons. Similarly, Abol Trail up Katahdin was moved off the slide. That means that the Mount Coe Trail is the only trail in the park to ascend a major slide.

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The hike begins at the Marston Trailhead west of Kidney Pond turnoff on the Tote Road. You climb steadily through the forest to a junction. To the left leads eventually to North Brother; the right, Mount Coe. At first, the trail follows a small picturesque stream. But as you enter the steep valley between Mounts O-J-I and Coe, the trail becomes dusty and open.

Mount O-J-I from the Mount Coe Trail

Mount O-J-I from the Mount Coe Trail

The trail steepens as you near the base of the slide. Boulders and scree become as numerous as spruce trees. The slide itself is exposed bedrock with some debris on it. The footing mostly good. Sections of the climb are wet, though. In the photo at the beginning of this description the dark areas are wet. It’s not the difficulty of the climb that earned the slide a place on the WW25 list, rather it’s how high it is.

Looking down the lower section of the slide

Looking down the lower section of the slide

There are blazes on the rock to lead you up the safest and easiest route. Near the top, you need to cross the slide below a narrow ledge. This section is often wet. It’s a long steep slide if you lose your footing. This is the crux move. It’s the sense of exposure that’s the problem, not the difficultly of the climbing.

From the top of the slide, it’s a shot jaunt through the tightly packed and stunted spruce to the summit. You get a spectacular 360 degree view.

Looking across the summit to The Brothers

Looking across the summit to The Brothers

Do not return down the slide. It’s better to return by continuing over South Brother to Marston Trail and descending that way. It makes a 9.6 mile lollipop (including the side trip to the summit of South Brother).




Doubletop from near the top of the slide

Doubletop from near the top of the slide

For more complete directions to the trailhead and a fuller description of the hike see my Hiking Maine’s Baxter State Park.





Katahdin across the Klondike

Katahdin across the Klondike





Little Spencer Mountain by Greg Westrich

Little Spencer (L) and Big Spencer (R) Mountains from the drive into the trailhead

Little Spencer (L) and Big Spencer (R) Mountains from the drive into the trailhead

The hike up Little Spencer is only and 2.6 miles out and back, but it is one of the most challenging hikes in Maine. This one earned its way onto the WW25 list for three reasons. First, the trail climbs two steep slides of loose rock—the second with some exposure. Second, you have to climb a chimney at the head of a rocky ravine. The climb isn’t particularly difficult and there’s a rope to help (it’s more useful on the descent). Finally, after you navigate those challenges, you climb a steep rock slope. It’s not like rock climbing, but it feels like it. If you don’t like heights, don’t look down—look out across Spencer Pond to Moosehead Lake. It’s a spectacular view.

Little Spencer Mountain across Spencer Pond on the road to Little Kineo Mountain

Little Spencer Mountain across Spencer Pond on the road to Little Kineo Mountain

To get to the trailhead, drive north out of Greenville. From the blinking light, follow Lily Bay Road 19 miles to Kokadjo. Just past Kokadjo, the pavement ends and the road forks to the left. Drive another mile, then turn left onto the road to Spencer Pond Camps (there’s a sign). Drive a little more than 7 miles and turn right onto a smaller logging road. This road drops down and loops around the north side of Spencer Pond (not visible) with views of Little Spencer Mountain to the trailhead (on the right). The trailhead is marked with a wooden sign. There’s no parking area, but room on the shoulder to park. For more detailed directions, check my Best Easy Day Hikes Greenville.

The trail crosses a marshy area and climbs into a stand of mature pines. As you climb, the trail gets steeper and rockier. Eventually, you reach the first slide. The trail climbs along the north edge of it. Along a rock face to your left is a spring. When it’s running high, you can hear it through the trees. You have partial views of Spencer Pond and Moosehead Lake from the slide.

Your first view

Your first view

The trail climbs up a rocky slope that narrows to a chimney. You have to climb the face. A rope hangs down to help, although I find the climb easier without it. The chimney is about 75 feet high—not all of it actual climbing.

The bottom of the chimney

The bottom of the chimney

I was took my two dogs up this section one October day. After carrying the two 75 pound dogs up the climb, it started snowing. We immediately turned around and went back down. The dogs took a while to forgive me for that one. Don’t take your dog on this hike.

The top section of the chimney—notice the rope hanging down

The top section of the chimney—notice the rope hanging down

Above the chimney is the second slide. This one is made up of rounded rocks roughly soccer ball size. Technically, this climb isn’t very difficult, but it appears that if you should falls you’d land in Spencer Pond.

Higher up, the trail breaks out of the trees and climbs a domed rock slope. This is low grade rock climbing with some exposure. It’s technically easy and the views are spectacular.







A view from the steep climb

A view from the steep climb

At the top of this section, the trail re-enters the woods and climbs in fits and starts to the summit. The summit is wooded with short spruce trees that don’t really impede the view. From the summit, you have great views in every direction.

Looking west from the summit. The view is across Spencer Pond to Moosehead Lake. Notice Mount Kineo in the center on the horizon.

Looking west from the summit. The view is across Spencer Pond to Moosehead Lake. Notice Mount Kineo in the center on the horizon.

Big Spencer Mountain by Greg Westrich

Big Spencer Mountain from Number Four Mountain

Big Spencer Mountain from Number Four Mountain

Big and Little Spencer Mountains dominate the land east of the north end of Moosehead Lake. Together, they’re known as the Kettle Mountains. The trail up Big Spencer climbs steeply up the east face of the mountain to the summit at the east end of the long, untrailed summit ridge. (Someone needs to build a trail across Big Spencer to the summit of Little Spencer.)

The east end of Big Spencer from the road to the trailhead

The east end of Big Spencer from the road to the trailhead

To get to the trailhead, head north out of Greenville. Drive 19 miles from the blinking light in town to Kakadjo. Where the pavement ends bear left and continue for another 7.2 miles. Just past a narrow bridge, turn left. There is a sign for Big Spencer at the turn. Drive another 6.1 miles to the trailhead on the left. The logging road to the trailhead is very rough and bumpy. I’ve done it with a Honda CRV, but don’t recommend driving this road with a low clearance car. The access road is a great place to see moose, butterflies, bears, and other wildlife.

The trail begins as an old road (that was used by the fire warden to reach his cabin). It climbs steadily to a flat shoulder on the mountain. The firewarden’s cabin used to be here, but it was removed a few years ago. Now there’s a privy and campsite. You have a good view east to the mountains in Baxter State Park—a preview of the view from the summit.

The trail crosses a beaver-flooded stream and begins to climb in earnest. The trail is rocky with several ledges to ascend. There are ladders to aid in climbing the highest ledges. Most are kinda loose but safe.

One of the ladders on a foggy day

One of the ladders on a foggy day

As you near the summit, the trail levels out and crosses another shoulder covered with densely packed spruce. The final climb to the summit is over rounded bedrock. There are ladders here, too. This is the wildest section of the hike.

The summit, on the other hand is far from wild. There’s a large wooden platform and several towers. In 2012, the crew building the newest of the towers started a fire that burned part of the summit and south slope. Don’t let the clutter on top discourage you, though. The 360 degree view is spectacular. You can see mountains all the way from The Bigelows to Katahdin. In between are numerous lakes shining in the endless north woods.

Moose Mountain across Moosehead Lake from the summit

Moose Mountain across Moosehead Lake from the summit

Katahdin and its neighbors from the summit

Katahdin and its neighbors from the summit

Lobster Lake from the summit

Lobster Lake from the summit

The round trip hike is about four miles. For more information see my Best Easy Day Hikes Greenville.

The Pulpit by Greg Westrich

Henry standing on the Pulpit

Henry standing on the Pulpit

The Pulpit is a section of high cliff along the Bold Coast. It’s separated from the rest of the cliff face by a deep, nearly vertical chasm. A path leaves the main trail and makes its way down to the base of the formation. From there, you have great cliff top views of the Gulf of Maine with Grand Manan Island in the distance.

An unblazed but obvious trail follows the top of The Pulpit to its highest point. The world drops away vertically on three sides. Waves crash into the broken rock at the base of the cliffs nearly a hundred feet below you.

Looking south from the base of The Pulpit (The Pulpit is on the left.)

Looking south from the base of The Pulpit (The Pulpit is on the left.)

To the south, spruce-topped cliffs march into the hazy distance broken only by the occasional inlet with a cobbled beach.

One of the beaches near The Pulpit

One of the beaches near The Pulpit

The trailhead for The Bold Coast is a few miles east of Cutler on ME191. It’s an easy two mile hike from the trailhead to Pulpit Rock. The trail winds through a dense spruce forest with lots of standing dead wood and very little understory. It’s great habitat for black backed woodpeckers. In fact, birdwatchers come from all over the country to see them here.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can make your hike into a 9.5 mile loop that takes in all of The Bold Coast. For a description of the entire hike, check out my guide Hiking Maine.

The view from one of the campsites, looking north

The view from one of the campsites, looking north

There are two primitive, but spectacular, campsites near the west end of the hike (the opposite end of the cliffs from the Pulpit). Be warned: there’s no reliable fresh water on the hike or near the campsites.

Near Fairy Head at the south end of the Bold Coast where the cliffs are more broken and less dramatic

Near Fairy Head at the south end of the Bold Coast where the cliffs are more broken and less dramatic

Just south of the Pulpit. The trail winds atop open cliffs 100 feet above the sea. Grasses and blueberries line the trail. Farther along, the trail visits several of the beaches and crosses meadows of tall grass and flowering roses.

The Owl by Greg Westrich

The Owl is a dome of broken rock and cliffs separated from Katahdin by Witherle Ravine. To its west is Barren Mountain and the Klondike. The views from the summit are expansive and inspiring: a panorama that includes Katahdin, the Klondike, Mount Coe, the Brothers, the mountains around Russell Pond, and the woods and ponds to the south that reminded Thoreau of a broken mirror in the lawn.

Looking south from below the summit

Looking south from below the summit

The hike is 7.0 miles out and back from Katahdin Stream campground (for more information check out hike 25 of Hiking Maine’s Baxter State Park).

Looking north and east from the summit

Looking north and east from the summit

The first section on the Hunt Trail climbs very little. Just before Katahdin Stream Falls (the highest in Maine), you turn left onto The Owl Trail. You climb steadily to a high plateau. The trail skirts around a huge erratic boulder (that you can see from the summit). You climb again through a section of moss, broken rock, and thick spruce.

The boulder

The boulder

The trail opens up as you reach the base of a high cliff. Across Witherle Ravine, Katahdin rises


The view from the first cliffs across Witherle Ravine

The view from the first cliffs across Witherle Ravine

From here the trail gets very rocky and steep. Sections are almost vertical. It’s a very steep and uneven staircase. My daughter—ten at the time—loved it. Far above you a boulder appears to be balanced atop the pile of rocks you’re climbing. The trail goes right by it. You can climb out onto it for a photo op and great view of the Maine woods.

On the balanced rock. That’s Doubletop and Moose Mountains in the distance

On the balanced rock. That’s Doubletop and Moose Mountains in the distance


The trail flattens out again near more cliffs before climbing the final dome to the summit. It’s the step sections between the cliffs that earn The Owl its place on the WW25 list.

Near the top of the steep section

Near the top of the steep section

The summit itself is a large rocky dome with lots of boulders to sit on and contemplate the spectacular scenery.

The head of Witherle Ravine (that’s The Owl’s summit on the left)

The head of Witherle Ravine (that’s The Owl’s summit on the left)

Looking up one of the steep sections (the trail is just to the left of the frame)

Looking up one of the steep sections (the trail is just to the left of the frame)

The last blaze

The last blaze







Big and Little Chick Hills by Greg Westrich

Let’s get the whole name thing out of the way. The Chick Hills are really Big and Little Peaked Mountains. Chick Hill is just north of Big Peaked Mountain. Since everyone knows the mountains by the wrong name, I’ll stick with that common usage.

An eagle making a flyover

An eagle making a flyover

Whatever you call them, they’re east of Bangor along the Airline right at the Hancock county line. You can see them from all around Bangor. They are a part of a collection of granite hills that include Bald Bluff Mountain and Eagle Bluff (a popular rock climbing spot).

Little Chick Hill from near the summit of Big Chick Hill

Little Chick Hill from near the summit of Big Chick Hill

The standard route up Big Chick Hill is the service road for the tower on the summit. Obviously, that’s not Wicked Wild. Rather than ascend the road, use it for your descent. Start your hike on the trail just to the right of the road. This trail winds through the woods then climbs steeply up Little Chick Hill. As you near the summit, you break out of the trees and follow along a cliff top with fine views. This section is what earned the mountain a place on the list.

Near the top of the steep section on Little Chick Hill

Near the top of the steep section on Little Chick Hill

The trail crosses over the summit and descends into the saddle between the two peaks. Turn left on the logging road and walk out to the tower access road. Follow it until it makes a sharp turn to the left. Go straight. There’s a rough trail that becomes more obvious as you climb. Like on Little Chick Hill, this trail follows slabs along a cliff face to the summit.

Nearing the summit

Nearing the summit

From the open summit, you have great views of the surrounding hills and Mount Desert Island in the distance. This is a great hike all year. In the summer, the granite slopes are bursting with blueberries. In the fall, the rolling country is awash with color.

Mount Desert Island from along the trail on Little Chick Hill

Mount Desert Island from along the trail on Little Chick Hill

After following the road back to the trailhead, you’ll have hiked 3.2 miles and climbed 1200 feet.

Chick Hill Road is 3.8 miles east of the junction of ME9 and ME46 in Eddington. Follow ME9 east. Turn left onto Chick Hill Road. The parking is on the left where the pavement ends.

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Tumbledown Mountain by Greg Westrich

Tumbledown (far left) and Little Jackson (R) from near Webb Lake

Tumbledown (far left) and Little Jackson (R) from near Webb Lake

Many people climb Tumbledown via Brook Trail. Mostly, the trail follows an old roadbed. It’s a nice, steady climb. The upper section follows a steep stream up a rocky slope to Tumbledown Pond. From there it’s 0.9 miles to the summit—most of it bare rock with wide open views. A great hike, but not Wicked Wild. (Although, the time I did it in a 50mph gale might count.)

Tumbledown Pond from the ridge leading to Tumbledown Mountain (with Little Jackson in the background)

Tumbledown Pond from the ridge leading to Tumbledown Mountain (with Little Jackson in the background)

On the other hand, the less-hiked Loop Trail climbs steadily then steeply for almost two miles to the summit. The trail climbs to Great Ledge with great views of the mountain and the route ahead. After dropping off the ledge, the trail steepens. You climb up into a narrowing chimney. The last half mile is very steep with loose rock. In spring, it’s like climbing a waterfall.

The entrance to the boulder choke known as Fat Man’s Misery

The entrance to the boulder choke known as Fat Man’s Misery

Near the top of the chimney is a boulder choke. The trail climbs through the boulders. There are iron rungs and some hand-and-knee crawling before you climb out the top of the choke.

Looking down the chimney from the top. You can see a hiker standing on top of the boulder choke in the center of the frame

Looking down the chimney from the top. You can see a hiker standing on top of the boulder choke in the center of the frame

At the top of the chimney, you turn left to climb the last 0.2 miles to Tumbledown’s open summit. You can turn right to hike 0.7 miles to Tumbledown Pond. You can make a nice 6.1 miles loop hike. (For more details, check out hike 34 in my guide Hiking Maine.)

Tumbledown’s summit looking across the chimney

Tumbledown’s summit looking across the chimney

The Eyebrow by Greg Westrich

The Eyebrow from the parking area in Grafton Notch

The Eyebrow from the parking area in Grafton Notch

The first summer I lived in Maine my wife and I climbed Old Speck. We climbed out of Grafton Notch and went straight along the stream where the AT turns right and climbs to the Eyebrow Trail. We bushwacked and rock climbed all the way up to the ridge. It was epic. To hike the last 200 yards to the trail, we had to walk on top of the stunted spruce—teetering six feet off the ground. Don’t try this at home.

On our descent, we crossed The Eyebrow. Back then, the trail descended the steep ledge from near the top to where the ladder is today. It was a harrowing descent.

Where the trail crosses the open ledges. It used to just go up the ledge

Where the trail crosses the open ledges. It used to just go up the ledge

The AMC has built a nice trail up The Eyebrow so you don’t have to climb the ledges any more. Now you hike steeply up the slope with a steel cable handrail to the ledge. You cross the ledge on iron rungs, climb a short ladder and enter the woods. The trail climbs steeply next to the exposed ledge. There are steps, and ladders, and a long section of iron rungs. It’s a really fun climb.

The section below the ledge. It feels steeper than it looks here

The section below the ledge. It feels steeper than it looks here

From the top of The Eyebrow, you have a great view of Grafton Notch and the surrounding mountains. You can see all the way past Old Speck and Sunday River Whitecap to Mount Washington.

I have mixed feelings about hikes where I can see my car from the summit. It’s a great view of Grafton Notch.

I have mixed feelings about hikes where I can see my car from the summit. It’s a great view of Grafton Notch.

The loop hike from the east side of Grafton Notch (the AT parking area) is 2.2 miles and climbs 1140 feet.

One of the easy ladders on Sunday River Whitecap near where I met a moose one humid Sunday morning

One of the easy ladders on Sunday River Whitecap near where I met a moose one humid Sunday morning

Sidebar: the WW25 list includes three hikes near Grafton Notch in the Mahoosucs. I could also have included Grafton Loop Trail. The section between ME26 and Sunday River Whitecap has a section climbing Stowe Mountain that has several large ladders. There are also ladders and lots of boardwalks on the north side of Sunday River Whitecap. The first time I hiked it I met a bull moose on one of them—but that’s another story. It’s worth checking out—as is the entire Grafton Loop.

East and West Baldpates by Greg Westrich

Looking from East Baldpate across West Baldpate to Old Speck. Getting from where the picture was taken to where the hikers are is what gets this hike on the WW25 list.

Looking from East Baldpate across West Baldpate to Old Speck. Getting from where the picture was taken to where the hikers are is what gets this hike on the WW25 list.

The hike out of Grafton Notch to West Baldpate Mountain’s mostly wooded summit (you have a view tow mard East Baldpate) is relentlessly steep. The trail climbs and climbs. The second half is deeply eroded. You often are five or six feet below ground level hiking up bedrock and roots. The views at the top are worth the effort.

Between the two Baldpates is a wide saddle with a lot of bare rock. The final climb up East Baldpate scales a series of exposed granite slabs. This is what earns the hike a place on the list. East Baldpate’s summit is open—a wide expanse of rough granite with a stands of stunted trees. You have views in every direction.

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This is a very popular hike. It’s best to avoid weekends in the summer or start by 7am like I do.

It’s 3.9 miles from Grafton Notch to East Baldpate’s summit, which is 2271 feet higher than the trailhead. The total amount of climbing is more than three thousand feet.

A view of the ledges the AT climbs to reach East Baldpate’s summit.

A view of the ledges the AT climbs to reach East Baldpate’s summit.

Mahoosuc Notch by Greg Westrich

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You regularly hear that the notch is the hardest mile on the Appalachian Trail. It’s not. It may be the most unusual though. Mahoosuc Notch is a narrow cleft between Mahoosuc Arm and Fulling Mill Mountain. The floor of the notch is full of irregular boulders that have fallen from the cliffs. Most are bus to house sized.

To hike through this jumble of rock, you have to climb over, under, and through. Several gaps are narrow enough that you have to remove you pack. Climb too high off the route and you’ll find yourself standing at the edge of a nasty abyss. Get too low in the rocks and you’ll find pools of ice even in July and August.

I’ve only hiked Mahoosuc Notch once—on my Maine thru-hike with my wife. None of my photos really capture the fun of it.

The trick is to take your time and enjoy the scrambling. Try to actually hike it and it will be the hardest mile you ever hiked.

To get there from Grafton Notch, drive north on ME26 2.8 miles. Turn left onto Success Pond Road (a gravel logging road that’s closed in winter and notoriously rough when open). Drive 8.5 miles. Turn left on a spur road. In 0.5 miles, you’ll come to Notch Trailhead.

Notch Trail is a moderate 2.2 miles to the west end of Mahoosuc Notch.