Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hike – Peary Mountain

Pleasant Mountain and Pleasant Pond
Peary Mountain is in Brownfield, Maine, south of Fryeburg.  The hike up Peary Mountain is a relatively easy one.  I did it in October with the foliage in full Fall colors and it turned out to be a spectacular hike.  I also hiked it a couple of years later during mid-summer, and while the views were still as good, the lack of foliage color lessened them.

Directions - coming from the South drive north on Route 113.  After Route 160 crosses Route 113 drive another 2.2 miles and turn left onto Farnsworth Road.  Coming from the North drive 4.8 miles south on Route 113 from Route 302 and turn right onto Farnsworth Road.  Drive 1.3 miles on Farnsworth Road (it's a dirt road.)  There will be a small dirt parking area on the right.  It can hold 3-4 cars. There is no fee for parking.  There are no amenities.

The trail starts across and about 20 feet further along the road. There is no official sign for the trail.  Since this trail is on private land, the beginning of it has several warning signs, though.  It has a chain with PVC pipe across the entrance to prevent people from driving on it.  The signs warn that no motorized vehicles other than snowmobiles are allowed without the landowners' permission.  (In the parking area there is a blue sign for snowmobiling that has "Brownfield 7" on it.  I believe the first part of this trail is a snowmobile trail in the winter.)

Right at the start of the trail there will be a stream to your right.  The road will be quite wide since some logging is done on this land.  It soon becomes a more narrow track, but still much wider than just a hiking trail.

The first 1/4 mile rises very gently.  It crosses over the stream.  In the fall the road was covered so that it was like walking on a carpet of colored leaves.  Earlier in the year it is a dirt track.

After this easy section the next 1/4 mile rises more steadily.  The road has some washouts in it and if it is wet there will be muddy places.  You come near the stream once again, now on your left.  At this point there are two tracks - one that stays close to the stream and one that bears away slightly to the right.  The one to the right is the better worn of the two and is the main trail.  The one on the left by the stream will soon connect back to it, though, so it doesn't much matter which you take, other than the footing they will provide.

Once you have gotten past the steeper section on the road it will level off some and become overgrown with grass.  It will also open up some; the trees which were quite close up to now are further away and more sun comes in.

While walking on the grassy section carefully watch the trees on the left.  There will be a piece of wood nailed about eight feet up on a tree with a faded arrow pointing to the left.  This is the direction to take.  There will also be a short section of rock wall in the direction you will take.  On the right are the remains of an old cellar, but it is not easy to see from the trail.  The grassy road continues straight, but you will be leaving it now.

As you take this sharp left you will be on a track that has still had traffic of some kind on it, but it is more overgrown and rutted than the main track you had been on to this point.  You will also walk over some rock ledges for the first time.

Keep an eye out on your right on this section.  In no more than 1/4 of a mile the trail will leave this road and finally become a foot track.  The start will not be that easy to spot, especially in the summer.  There is a sign saying "One Way Do Not Enter" that may be visible where you will head to the right.  It is on a stick and sometimes propped against a tree, but it had fallen over when I hiked it last.  This sign indicates that the road you had been on is private property and you should not proceed on it anymore.  There is also an attempt to give directions on it, but they do not match the hiking trail, so you should ignore them.

This foot track is the final section.  It rises the last couple hundred feet very quickly, so it is quite steep compared to the rest of the hike.  As you come up it there will be a fork in the trail.  The trail to the right goes to one peak that faces North and West.  The trail to the left goes to another peak that faces East.  For now take the trail to the right.

After one last scramble up you will come to a rock ledge with a view through the trees to Mount Tom.  While this is a nice view, it is nothing compared to what is coming. 

Mount Tom and Lovewell Pond

Continue on the ledge until you come to a wide open ridge that has 180 degree views from Mount Tom to the North Northeast all the way to cultivated farm fields to the South Southwest.  There is a makeshift stone bench here that you can sit on and enjoy the views of the White Mountains to the Northwest.  The fall foliage was at its peak and all of the surrounding hills and mountains were bursting with color.

View from Peary mountain
View of the White Mountains in the far distance

Once you are done with the views here retrace your steps back down to where the trail forked.  This time take the other trail (it will be on your right as you come back down off the ridge.)

This trail is well worn right at the beginning, but there are sections where you need a good imagination to still see a trail to follow.  You will need to pay attention on this one.  There are cairns now and then to help.  If you are unsure where the track is, though, just keep heading in an easterly direction and you will soon identify the trail again.  It takes no more than 10-15 minutes to reach the second ledge.  The trail to this view will rise much more gradually than the first one did.

This ridge has views of Mount Tom on the far left and Pleasant Mountain straight ahead.  Lovewell Pond and Pleasant Pond can also be seen in front of these two mountains.  The colors from the leaves, combined with the blue of the water, made for quite a show.  There are a few rocks to sit on here, but nothing that would be comfortable to remain on for too long a rest.

Pleasant Mountain's several peaks with Pleasant Pond in front of it
Fall foliage from Peary Mountain

Once you are done taking in these views, retrace your steps back to where the trail split.  Take a right here to head back down the steep section to the overgrown road.  Take a left onto the road and follow it back down to the grassy, open road.  Take a right here and follow this road all the way back down to where you parked your car.

I encountered a few other people while on this hike, but it seemed like it was not one that was much travelled since it was not that well worn by feet.  Near the end of the hike as I was coming down to the road there were a man and woman cutting brush.  They turned out to be the landowners.  They had purchased the land a year or two before and had decided to continue to let people use it for hiking.  I thanked them for that and they seemed to appreciate it.  They explained that there was another landowner for part of it, which was where the "one way" sign had come from.

Cumulative distance:             2.4 miles
Cumulative elevation gain:   600 feet
Cumulative duration:            1.5 hours

Maine Mountain Guide

1 comment:

  1. This is a hike that George and I should take some time.