Walking around Portland recently, I crossed paths with someone wearing a shirt that read “The Journey IS The Destination.”

It’s a sentiment that’s shared by many hikers, travelers and adventurers worldwide – live in the moment, enjoy your trip and take in the world around you.

It’s also a view that’s totally opposite of how I was raised to hike.

No, I was raised by my parents (and, really, lay the blame at the feet of my dad) to consider the destination the whole dang point.

Forget meandering through the woods and drinking in the outdoors. The idea was to keep your head down and get to your end point – a waterfall, a river, a summit – as quickly as possible.

Often this also meant by the most direct route possible, as well.


If you’re trying to reach a summit, why mosey up a tote road when you can climb straight up a rock face or steep switchbacks?

I’m not saying this fast-and-furious approach to hiking is the right approach, or even a good one. But it’s turned me on to a number of short hikes in Maine that are impressive both in terms of physical and visual impact. These five hikes are all less than a mile from trailhead to destination, but get you to a peak that would be worth a trip double or triple the length.


The 800-foot summit of Camden’s Mount Battie is dwarfed by the much larger Mount Megunticook, which looms beyond the shorter peak. That doesn’t take away from Battie’s beauty and charm, and the recently rehabbed tower at the peak offers Maine’s best views of Camden and Rockport harbor. A trailhead and small parking lot at the north end of Megunticook Street in Camden lead to a half-mile trail that switchbacks up Battie’s south face. The first quarter-mile is toughest, necessitating some rocky scrambles, but things soon smooth out on a plateau that gradually climbs to the summit. Easier, longer trails climb to the peak from Battie’s north, and a paid auto road lets the truly lazy just drive to the summit.


Just a dozen miles south of Bridgton, Sebago’s Douglas Mountain provides spectacular views of the Lakes Region. Two trailheads, about a mile off of Route 107 on Douglas Mountain Road, provide access to the 1,400-foot peak. The upper trailhead (which has no parking – it’s strictly pick-up and drop-off) accesses the Ledges Trail, an appropriately named trail that climbs a quarter-mile on open rock to the summit. At the peak, a 16-foot stone tower, constructed by private landowners in the late 1800s, offers expansive views of Sebago. On clearer days, the view reaches south to Portland and the Maine coast, and northwest to the White Mountains of Maine and New Hampshire. Another trail, the Eagle Scout Trail, ambles an easier 11/4 miles to the summit from the lower trailhead.



The Beehive, which looks down on Sand Beach in Acadia, is one of the classic hikes of Acadia National Park. A little sibling to the nearby Precipice Trail, the Beehive is a popular ladder trail that’s shorter, easier and more reliably open than Precipice. Starting at a trailhead across the street from Great Head and Newport Cove, the hike begins on the Bowl Trail before forking right onto the Beehive Trail. From here the trail climbs dramatically – hikers scale steps, iron-rung ladders and handrails driven into the rock face, and scoot along narrow cliffs. After a short but thrilling half-mile, hikers reach the 520-foot summit. From here it’s an easy descent to the Bowl (an Alpine pond) and then down the Bowl Trail back to the trailhead. With the popularity of both the Beehive and nearby Sand Beach, I’d recommend getting this hike in early to both secure parking and beat the crowds on the trail.


Bradbury Mountain, in the eponymous state park in Pownal, offers views of Pownal, Freeport and the Atlantic Ocean from its 485-foot summit. A number of short, steep routes climb from the parking lot to the summit; the popular Summit Trail (a hike of three-tenths of a mile up stone staircases), the Switchback Trail (also three-tenths of a mile up switchbacks) and the South Ridge Trail (a one-mile hike along Bradbury’s southern boundary that leaves from the lower parking lot). Bradbury is unique among Maine state parks in that many of its trails are shared use, and hiking some of the more moderate routes will see you sharing territory with folks on horseback and mountain bikes. The summit is also particularly popular with avid birders, and you’re likely to see many on any trip to Bradbury.


A short hike off Route 302 in Fryeburg, Jockey Cap looks down on the Saco River valley and the Fryeburg area. From a trailhead behind Quinn’s Jockey Cap Motel and Country Store, the trail quickly climbs 200 feet over rocks and roots to the summit. At less than a quarter-mile, the hike is the easiest of those listed here, and shouldn’t take most hikers more than a few minutes. The reward (beyond the view) is the spectacular Peary monument at the peak. A large metal compass, the monument identifies the peaks surrounding Jockey Cap in a full 360 degrees.

Josh Christie is a freelance writer living in Portland. Along with his brother, Jake, he writes about great Maine destinations for outdoors enthusiasts. Josh can be reached at:

[email protected]

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