Want the trail to yourself? Try exploring easements
Summer 2020 will be anything but ordinary. With some indoor activities restricted or closed, many landowners and managers across Maine are reporting a higher-than-average number of visitors to their hiking trails, parks and preserves. Fortunately, the Moosehead Lake region has an abundance of beautiful land, waters and trails for residents and visitors to spread out on.
The Forest Society of Maine (FSM) holds conservation easements all around Moosehead Lake, including the 359,000-acre Moosehead Region Conservation Easement (MRCE). Multiple new trails have been constructed on the MRCE since 2015, which are managed by the state of Maine. For a challenging hike with outstanding views, the new Eagle Rock Trail is an excellent alternative to the uber-popular Big Moose. At 7.4 miles (round-trip), Eagle Rock makes for a full and satisfying day, and the parking lot is never full. For a shorter day, check out the Number 4 Mountain Trail (3.4 miles round-trip), east of Moosehead Lake.
North of the lake, the Big Spencer Mountain Trail is a relatively short but steep ascent to one the region’s tallest peaks (elevation 3,230 feet; four miles round-trip). You don’t even have to get to the top to earn exceptional views: Lobster and Chesuncook lakes and Baxter State Park are visible from a small clearing just one mile from the trail head (a great picnic location). Even on a perfect summer day, it is rare to pass more than one or two other hikers on Big Spencer—perhaps because the drive is long and remote. Remember to always turn your headlights on when travelling private roads, and be sure to pull over to let logging trucks pass. Big Spencer is managed as a Maine State Ecological Reserve, and is conserved by an FSM-held easement.
All three of the above hikes, including trail maps and driving directions, can be found on MaineTrailFinder.com. The local hiking and volunteer group Moosehead Trails will also be hosting socially distant trips to Big Spencer and to the Blue Ridge Trail system in the MRCE, this summer and fall. More information can be found at Facebook.com/MooseheadTrails/.
When exploring easements, please play it safe. Emergency calls to the backcountry puts a burden on local health organizations and emergency responders. Stay within your limits, and always pack plenty of food, water, and a warm non-cotton layer, even if you are only doing a short hike. To everyone enjoying the spectacular woods and waters of the Moosehead Lake region, this summer, the Forest Society of Maine wishes you happy — and healthy — trails!