Monday, April 29, 2013

Pleasant Mountain Lives Up To Its Name

Try this moderate mountain hike only one hour north of Portland, Maine.

Jenny enjoys the summit views at Pleasant Mountain
On a late April weekend, I wanted to get a little exercise and enjoy the sunshine.  Usually, the only option for a moderately challenging hike is to drive two hours north to the White Mountains, but on this weekend, Jenny suggested we try Pleasant Mountain - the tallest mountain in Southern Maine at 2,006 feet.  Friends- Jenny and Holly - joined me for this sunny adventure to a new peak.

Although the trees were not yet green, it was still a beautiful day with gorgeous weather and views of the lake region below.  This is an ideal hike for someone looking for a half day away from the city or a family looking for a moderate trek up the mountain.

Trail Head sign at the Ledges Trail

Here is how to recreate our adventure....

Adventure:  Pleasant Mountain/Shawnee Peak hike in Bridgton, ME.

Getting there: Take Route 302 west out of Portland.  Follow it about 6 miles out of Bridgton and turn left on Mountain Road.  Pass the Shawnee Peak Ski Area.  The Ledges Trail is on the right (parking on left) about 2 miles past the ski area.  There is no fee to park there.

Trail:  We hiked the "Ledges Trail" up and back.  But there are multiple ascents.  Ledges provide a few good views on the way up.
Trail head map of Pleasant Mountain

Difficulty:  Moderately Difficult Trail.  This should be fine for anyone in moderate shape.  If you struggle with join pain, use treking poles as it does have a rocky incline/descent.  This should be a good family hike for grade-school age children and up as long as you take your time.  

Distance:  1.8 miles one way on the Ledges Trail.  3.6 round trip.

Recommendations:   Wear appropriate footwear (sturdy sneakers or hiking boots), carry a daypack with at least 1 L of water, a snack, and rain gear.  The summit is exposed and can be windy.
There are no bathrooms at the trail head or summit. 

It was nice to get out of the city for a little adventure and hike.  Pleasant Mountain provided a moderate hike with great views only one hour from Portland, Maine.  I can't wait to go again!

Impressive fire tower at summit of Pleasant Mountain

Please contact me or leave a comment if you have questions, comments, or concerns.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mt. Greylock Hike - The tallest mountain in Massachusetts

 When the snow has melted and the sun come out - it's time to visit the Berkshires.  

Baby's First Hike - Mt. Greylock, MA

Friends- Courtney, Ingrid, and I don't get together often.  With one in Maine, another in Eastern Mass, and a third in upstate New York, we aren't exactly nearby each other  We decided we were in desperate need of a girls weekend and an adventure.  For a quick trip, we decided to all drive to North Adams, Massachusetts on a cool spring Friday, and spend a Saturday hiking Massachusetts tallest mountain - Mt. Greylock.  We were there April 19-20, 2013.

This turned out to be a wonderful idea. After about 3 hours of driving from each direction, we all got to spend a wonderful 24 hours together.  Ingrid's baby girl came along for our trip and enjoyed her first big trip.

Here is more information about our adventure for those looking for a similar getaway...

The Porches Inn, North Adams, Ma
Where we stayed:  We decided that camping this early in the year was not an option with a baby.  Instead, we stayed at The Porches Inn at Mass MoCA.  This inn provided comfortable and charming accommodations including a swimming pool/jacuzzi and a delicious complimentary breakfast.

Where we ate:  Friday night we ate at Desperados.  It is a Mexican restaurant in town with a lively and family friendly feel.  Their food was typical chain Mexican and have a bar.  They were accommodating to food allergies and the baby.  We ate breakfast at the Porches Inn and packed in lunches.

Where we hiked: We took Cheshire Harbor Trail trail up Mt. Greylock which is accessed from a parking lot at the end of West Mountain Rd.  The trail ascends 2.6 miles at a moderate grade up through deciduous forest and connects with the Appalachian Trail for the last 0.7 miles.  It provides views of streams before reaching the summit at 3,491 ft.  The summit has a visitor center (still closed for winter when we were there) and an enormous war monument.  It provided views of the Berkshire Mountain and valley bellow.  We descended on the same trail making the trek 6.6 round trip.  For a detailed trail map and description download this Mass Gov Pdf.   

Summit of Mt. Greylock 

Recommendations:  I truly enjoyed this voyage into Western Massachusetts, however, I think it would be even better to visit in the fall or summer when the leaves are present on the trees.  Early spring conditions provides a brown landscape that gave the illusion of a dead forest.  I can imagine that the deciduous forest is breathtaking in the fall months when the birch leaves are changing.

I loved my girls trip to the Berkshire of Massachusetts and an opportunity to see my dear friends.

Please feel free to leave comments or questions for Lindsey below...

Monday, April 15, 2013

Marginal Way in Ogunquit Maine

Ocean cliffs, lobster boats, and a bowl of chowder...the perfect way to welcome Spring!

Perkins Cove, Ogunquit, Maine

There are many beautiful beaches, shorelines, and walking areas in Southern Maine.  My favorites include Cape Elizabeth's Fort Williams Park, Kennebunkport's Parson's Way, and this one....Marginal Way walk in Ogunquit, Maine.

The Marginal Way walking path connects the tiny port of "Perkins Cove" to the bustling tourist center
Marginal Way Walk along beach cliffs in Ogunquit.
of Ogunquit by a paved path along ocean cliffs.  The trail offers views of jutting rocks and pebble beaches to the East, as well as, resorts and seaside homes to the West.  One of the reasons this is one of THE BEST walks in Southern Maine, is that not only do you get a great seaside walk, but it also connects two areas with fantastic shopping, eateries, and watering holes.  

Like most residents of the southern seacoast, I avoid the many coast towns in the peak summer months when tourists and traffic clog our usually quiet streets. As a local, spring provides the perfect time to enjoy Ogunquit and Marginal Way without the summer crowds.  My friend Jenny and I decided to venture down the coast on our first weekend of April break for a cliff walk, a bowl of chowder, and an afternoon escape from our routine.  Below is our adventure.

Marginal Way and Beach Walk
1.0 mile one way on Marginal Way, 2.0 round trip
** Up to 3 miles one way if you travel to Ogunquit Beach and do a beach walk.
Terrain: Easy

- From Rt. 1, Drive down Shore Road and follow signs through Ogunquit Center to Perkins Cove.
Map courtesy of Google Maps 
- Park in Perkins Cove (A on Map)
**Town lots charge in the summer, but it was free in early-mid April.  
- Walk paved Marginal Way trail North.
- At the "mini lighthouse", you are half way (0.5 miles) to town.
- Continue until you pop out next to the Sparhawk Resort (on right). (B on Map)
- Turn Right and follow Shore Road into town.
---This is one mile and concludes the Marginal Way walk ----
- To continue your walk to the Ogunquit beach, walk along Shore Road to Route 1, but take a sharp right onto Beach Street.
- This street goes all the way down to the beautiful and sandy Ogunquit Beach.  (D on Map).
** Jenny and I walked another mile or so on this before turning around.
- Walk back the same way, returning to Perkins Cove.
**All together, Jenny and I traveled around 4-5 miles round trip.

Shells on Ogunquit Beach
This is a great walk to do with people of any ability range.  The path is paved and wheelchair/stroller accessible, so it is a great choice for families.

Since it is narrow, this trail is not a good choice for joggers or people in a hurry because it is hard to pass other groups.  This is especially true during the busy summer season since it is usually crowded.

Marginal Way is a great way to enjoy the scenic Southern Maine Coastline.  After our little walk, Jenny and I enjoyed a ice tea, bowl of chowder, and garlic bread and the well known Barnacle Billy's restaurant in Perkin's Cove.  It was a great way to welcome spring to Maine.

Clam Chowder, Ice tea, and Garlic Bread at Barnacle Billy's in Perkins Cove

Those who enjoy Southern Maine Coastal Walks might also enjoy my other blog posts:

* A Brisk Lighthouse Walk
* Kennebunk Beach Walk - Off Season Adventures

Jenny enjoys the seascape on Marginal Way

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Hiking Mount Tom in the White Mountains

Last year it was 90˚F here on my spring break.  
One year later, and it is snowing.  
I decided to make the most of it.

Immersed in snow and fog at the summit of Mt. Tom.

The falling snow and hard packed trail created an almost surreal adventure when Matt and I took a hike up Mt. Tom in Crawford Notch, New Hampshire on a mid-April day.

Even in mid-April, the trail is hard packed snow.
Even though I spent years working out of Appalachian Mountain Club's Highland Center in Crawford Notch, I had never hiked up the 2.8 miles from the front door to the summit of 4,051 ft, Mt. Tom.

Matt and I left the Highland Center parking lot at 10 am and were back down by 1 pm.  The hike was entirely on packed snow and I was glad I had microspikes and trekking poles.  Matt did it without the boot traction, but it was more challenging (and exhausting).   The trail wound through mainly hardwood forest and over a couple of tranquil streams.  Even in snow, the trek was challenging due to the constant uphill grade.  At the summit, we were immersed in a cloud, so we weren't able to see the view.   Instead, we experience the eery calm of silent snow falling on a windless summit as we gazed into the frozen fog.

It was a unique experience, being immersed in winter so late in the year, and I was glad to get in my first hike of spring.

Here are more details for those adventurers looking for a similar experience....

Snowy conditions on Mt. Tom
Adventure:  Mount Tom Hike in Crawford Notch State Park, White Mountains, NH.

Getting there:  From North Conway take 302 Northwest into Crawford Notch State Park.  Park at the AMC Highland Center or at the Crawford Train Depot.  The trailhead is just on the other side of the tracks from the depot.  You should see an opening in the trees.

Trail:  Take the Avalon Trail up 1.2 miles to the A-Z trail junction.  Then take the A-Z trail 1 more mile and you will come to the Mt. Tom spur.  The spur takes you 0.6 (or 0.5 depending on your map/sign) to the summit of Mt. Tom.
To follow our path, take the trails back the way you came.

Difficulty:  Moderately Difficult to Difficult.  Like any 4,000 footer in the White Mountains, your experience will entirely depend on weather, trail conditions, and skill level.  With packed snow and boot traction, this trail was a nice smooth packed trail and a moderately difficult hike.  I'm not sure (yet) the challenge level it is without snow, and I know it would be infinitely more difficult had there been ice on the trail.  Be smart, plan ahead and be prepared for all kinds of conditions.

Distance:  2.8 one way.  5.6 round trip.  It should take 3-5 hours.

Take the Avalon Trail to A-Z Trail to Mount Tom Spur
Recommendations:  I always recommending carrying multiple warm (non-cotton) layered clothing, waterproof hiking boots, a first aid kit, food, water, an AMC White Mountain trail map (Crawford Notch Range one), and in this case propper traction for shoes (MicroSpikes or Yak Tracks).

I also recommed parking at the AMC Highland Center.  You can use their bathrooms, buy a snack in the gift shop, and ask advice from the their adventure guides.

It was another wonderful adventure up in the Whites.  We ended our day with a cold beer and a warm meal at the wonderful Moat Mountain Brewpub in North Conway.

Please contact me or leave a comment if you have questions, comments, or concerns.