Lots of Mainers and folks from away take great pride and joy in “bagging” (the hiker’s term for reaching the summit) our state’s 14 4,000-foot peaks.

Saddleback, Crocker, Bigelow and Katahdin each boast two peaks, so you really only need to ascend 10 mountains. But not to be overlooked, and it surprises me how many mountain climbers do so, are the 13 mountains in Maine between 3,000 and 4,000 feet.

Snow Mountain, above Eustis on Route 27 just short of the Canadian border, is 3,960 feet with spectacular views in every direction. Another is Goose Eye on the Appalachian Trail in the Mahoosucs at 3,774 feet. And further north on the AT is White Cap at 3,856 feet.

One oft-overlooked gem of a hike, probably due in part to its relative remoteness, is 3,640-foot Boundary Bald Mountain north-northeast of Jackman and about eight miles southwest of the Canadian border.

Although it’s a fair poke, as they say, up Route 201, the drive following the Kennebec River with the almost-inevitable moose spotting along Maine’s most famous route for such diversion can make the miles and time fly by.

The reward at the top of Boundary Bald is a long, wide-open and rocky summit with an unobstructed view of all of northern Somerset County, the Moosehead Lake region and a lot of southern Canadian wilderness.


Some 20 miles to the south you’ll see 3,718-foot Coburn Mountain, also accessible right off Route 201. You’ll even find there the vestiges of long-abandoned Enchanted Mountain Ski Area, an ill-fated development undertaken by some enthusiastic Jackman residents almost 50 years ago.

You’ll reach the head of the 2.1-mile trail up the mountain by driving north exactly 7.6 miles from the bridge in Jackman. You’ll pass at 7.2 miles a state picnic area, The Falls, where you’ll want to stop, probably after your hike. It’s a beautiful little spot.

There’s a road to the right just after the picnic area that you’ll avoid, taking the Bald Mountain Road to the right, a very short distance just beyond. It’s a poorly maintained gravel road; you’ll proceed 5.6 miles. A word of caution: I recently traveled the road in my high-clearance, four-wheel drive Jeep and I’d recommend nothing less for the bumpy ride. I found my shovel in the back, which came in handy at a couple washouts and one fairly deep drainage ditch.

Once on the road, you’ll bear right at a fork after the Heald Stream Bridge 2.4 miles in. You’ll want to stop to enjoy the scenery at Heald Stream Falls, and if you’re into tenting there’s a delightful wilderness tent site there. A little further along, there’s another nice site on the shore of Mud Pond.

The reward once you get on the trail for any hardships on the road in will be well worth the trouble. You’ll be treated to a hike of only a little over two miles, taking you to the collapsed fire tower on the summit. Also, there is an imposing structure that the Homeland Security folks erected that includes, a sign will tell you, a video camera that scans the border and will even capture an image of you touching the building that you are sternly warned to avoid doing … an act that apparently carries a harsh penalty.

The trail up follows the path of a seasonal slatey stream bed that’s clearly marked with frequent blue blazes. It’s easy to follow above the tree line, but I found that I had to pay special attention on the trip back down to make sure that I followed the trail as it entered the woods.

As you make your list of mountains higher than 3,000 feet that aren’t to be missed, be sure to include Bigelow’s South Horn; Elephant; and South Brother up in Baxter, a great hike up to its 3,937-foot summit. South Brother’s twin, North Brother, a short distance away, makes it into the 4,000-foot class at 4,151 feet, and both Brothers can be easily knocked off on the same hike.

John Christie is a former ski racer and ski area manager and owner, a ski historian and member of the Maine Ski Hall of Fame. He and his son, Josh, write columns on alternating weeks. He can be reached at:

[email protected]

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