The Fogg Island Trail ends with this lovely view of Long Pond in Mount Vernon. Carey Kish photo

The woods were aglow on a recent sojourn through the countryside of Mount Vernon, the leaves seeming to change color with every step. The Fogg Island Trail, an old woods road for the first mile, led past a large beaver pond to a fork and a footpath, which suddenly got me thinking about Robert Frost and his beloved poem, “The Road Not Taken,” in which “two roads diverged in a yellow wood …”

En route to the junction, the wind-whisked dry leaves down the corridor, ruffed grouse exploded from the underbrush and chickadees chicka-dee-dee-dee’d beneath perfect bluebird skies. As with Frost, “sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler,” I turned down the marked path, and although it was not “the one less traveled by,” that day the decision “made all the difference.”

The way meandered past patches of lovely orchids (thanks to an interpretive sign, for all but a trained botanist would likely walk right by the downy rattlesnake plantain orchids) and through an extensive shady grove of hemlocks and pines. Beyond a boardwalk graced with ferns through a red maple and cedar swamp, the trail ended at a lookout on the pretty southwestern shore of Long Pond.

The Fogg Island Trail is part of the 469-acre Fogg Island Preserve, a recent project of the 7 Lakes Alliance (formerly the Belgrade Region Conservation Alliance). It’s the seventh trail in a fabulous system extending far and wide over the Kennebec Highlands of the Belgrade Lakes region that includes some 15 miles of foot trails on five mountains.

The Fogg Island Trail is a must for your autumn hiking to-do list. You’ll also want to consider these other highly recommended beauties that’ll have you enjoying a brilliant October outdoors well after the leaves have fallen. Enjoy!

The panoramic view from the summit of Mt Abraham includes a host of 4,000-foot peaks. Carey Kish photo

MT. ABRAHAM

From the summit of 4,049-foot Mt. Abraham, hikers are rewarded with a sweeping 360-degree panorama of high peaks, which range from Saddleback and Redington to Spaulding and Sugarloaf to the Crockers and the Bigelow Range. Equally remarkable are the 350 acres of fragile Alpine terrain on top, the most of any mountain in Maine other than Katahdin. The Fire Warden’s Trail gets you up and down, an 8-mile round-trip hike that gains nearly 2,900 feet of elevation.

MT. CUTLER

Rising 800 feet above the Saco River Valley, the slopes of 1,232-foot Mt. Cutler in Hiram are home to some half-dozen trails and about that many miles of hiking. The Mt. Cutler Conservation Area encompasses 170 acres, which were permanently protected two years ago with the help of conservationist Dan Hester, a Hiram resident, who once owned the land. Celebrate this wonderful success story with a hike to the extensive open ledges on the east and south faces of the peak.

GORMAN LOOP TRAIL

The AMC’s Gorman Chairback Lodge occupies a lovely spot at the eastern end of pristine Long Pond in the heart of the 100-Mile Wilderness. From here, the Gorman Loop Trail follows an undulating route that joins the Third Mountain Trail and then the Appalachian Trail to reach Monument Cliff. An impressive swath of wild country, from Big Moose Mountain to Baker Mountain to the White Cap Range, fills the view from this huge slate outcrop atop Third Mountain.

The 26-foot stone tower on the top of Mt. Battie was erected in 1921 as a memorial to soldiers from Camden who fought in World War I. Carey Kish photo

MT. BATTIE

As far as short hikes go, it’s hard to beat the Mt. Battie Trail in Camden Hills State Park. From the edge of town, the path climbs 525 feet to the peak in just over a half-mile to reach the 26-foot stone tower on top. Climb the tower, which was erected in 1921 as a memorial to soldiers from Camden who fought in World War I, for a striking view over Camden’s harbor to the islands of Penobscot Bay.

SCHOODIC BOG

By combining the Schoodic Bog Trail, a section of the Down East Sunrise Trail and the Schoodic Connector Trail, hikers can enjoy a terrific 4-mile circuit around Schoodic Bog in Sullivan. Semi-open ledges and the old railbed-turned-multiuse trail yield great looks of the craggy south face of Schoodic Mountain, while the ecologically-rich 150-acre bog and its numerous beaver lodges is a real treat. Thanks go to the Frenchman Bay Conservancy for this and many other conservation gems in Hancock County.

Carey Kish of Mt. Desert Island is the author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast and editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide. Follow Carey’s adventures on Facebook @Carey Kish

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