Could this be the beginning of a rather unusual trend to hike to mountains named after animal body parts? This past Saturday it was Camel's Hump in Vermont, and then just 6 days later on 24-August-2012, I hiked to a mountain named Goose-Eye, located in the State of Maine. This was my first visit to this peak, and so it was another brand new adventure for me.
It's fairly obvious from the profile of Camel's Hump as to how it got its name. However, as to how Goose-Eye Mountain got its name, the best I can determine, no one really knows for certain. The most common explanation is that the name might be a corruption of "Goose High", for it is said that the old-timers noticed that the migrating geese fly just high enough to clear the top of this mountain.
Regardless of how Goose-Eye Mountain got its name, I must say that hiking to this mountaintop exceeded my already high expectations for this adventure. It was thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish!
This hike got off to a great start. I decided to launch my trek from the Wright Trail. It was a very pleasant drive to the trailhead which is located on Bull Branch Road (several miles west of Bethel, ME). Even though there are about 2 miles of travel on a gravel road, it is very well maintained. There is no comparison between it and the rough ride on Success Pond Road which is where the other trailhead to Goose-Eye is located.
The map presented below shows the entire route taken for this hike which was about 9.8 miles round-trip. (Depending upon your Internet browser, clicking on the map might enlarge it.)
My route is highlighted in pink
I was very favorably impressed with the entire length of the Wright Trail. It is very well maintained. The first 2.5 miles is really easy trekking. The next photo shows a composite of some typical segments of trail. (For information about the north and south branch of the Wright Trail, see ADDENDUM at the end of this report.)
Typical segments of trail for the first 2.5 miles
After crossing Goose Eye Brook at the tentsite, the trail becomes a bit rougher, but still well maintained, and well-blazed. However, this "roughness" only lasts for about a mile or less. You then break out of the hardwood forest and begin to trek for another mile or so along open ledges and low-growing scrub. There are many sections where you feel like you're on an "above tree-line" trek, like in the Presidential or Franconia Range.
Immediately upon breaking out of the hardwoods and onto the first open ledge, there is a huge vista of several peaks in the northern Mahoosuc Range. The next photo shows a portion of this view which includes such prominent features as Mahoosuc Mountain, Old Speck, the Baldpates, and Sunday River Whitecap.
Vista from first open ledge after breaking out of the hardwood forest
The next series of 4 photos are shown to provide a general idea of the type of trekking you do for about a mile on the upper end of the Wright Trail.
Open-ledge hiking on upper part of Wright Trail
Low-scrub hiking on upper part of Wright Trail
Another example of open-ledge hiking on upper part of Wright Trail
One more example of open-ledge hiking on upper part of Wright Trail
And so, after enjoying the type of hiking seen in the preceding 4 photos, you eventually come to your first complete view of Goose-Eye Mountain (next photo). Maybe it's just me, but I think it's a pretty remarkable sight!
First complete view of Goose-Eye Mountain from the Wright Trail
Near to the spot where the above photo was taken, there is another outstanding view which includes Goose-Eye Mountain and the high peaks of the Presidential Range, faintly seen on the horizon on the left side of the next photo.
Distant Presidential Range (far left on horizon), and nearby Goose-Eye Mountain (far right)
And then after just a bit more trekking, Goose-Eye is right in your face, and is waiting to be climbed (see next photo)!
Goose-Eye Mountain waiting to be climbed!
When you're within a tenth of a mile from the top of Goose-Eye, you come to the junction shown in the next photo. From this junction you can see the Presidential Range on the distant horizon, and a green meadow in the foreground that is traversed by the Mahoosuc Trail segment of the Appalachian Trail.
Presidential Range (distant horizon), with green meadow (foreground) traversed by Mahoosuc Trail segment of Appalachian Trail
The next photo is just a slightly closer view of the meadow and Presidential Range that was seen in the previous photo.
Another view of Presidential Range (distant horizon) with green meadow (foreground)
Once you arrive at the top of Goose-Eye Mountain, there are 360 degree views. The next three photos serve to highlight just a few of those vistas.
Success Pond (center of photo) as seen from top of Goose-Eye Mountain
Looking southwesterly from Goose-Eye Mountain toward Presidential Range
Goose-Eye's 'East Peak', as viewed from the top of Goose-Eye's main peak
After spending considerable time soaking in the views from Goose-Eye's main peak, I headed over to the East Peak. Considering the amount of exposed rock, it's no surprise that there are wrap-around views from this summit as well. The next photo is a zoomed shot of Goose-Eye's 'East Peak'.
Zoomed shot of Goose-Eye Mountain's 'East Peak'
From the top of East Peak, there is a nice view looking northward up the Mahoosuc mountain range (next photo).
Northward view of Mahoosuc Range as viewed from Goose-Eye's 'East Peak'
And as one would expect, the East Peak provides a view of Goose-Eye's main peak with the Presidential Range in the background (next photo).
View from Goose-Eye's 'East Peak': Presidentials (on horizon), and Goose-Eye's main peak (far right)
After visiting Goose-Eye's 'East Peak', I still had a bit of spare time. I briefly toyed with the idea of heading northward or southward along the Mahoosuc Trail to take in some more views. But instead, I opted to simply head back the way I'd come and make some stops at a few of the pools and cascades along the lower end of the trail. I had sped by these during my ascent, but they looked liked they deserved a closer look.
Shown below are two snapshots taken on the return leg of my trek along the lower end of the Wright Trail. Everyone has different tastes, but I thought these pools and cascades were quite scenic.
Small cascade and pool along lower end of Wright Trail
Another cascade and pool along lower end of Wright Trail
Oh! And I stopped to take one other snapshot on my way down from Goose-Eye. I spotted a tree trunk which I thought resembled and elephant's trunk. Not a big deal, just mildly interesting!
Tree trunk bearing resemblance to an elephant's trunk
ADDENDUM (added 27-Aug-2012):
Some hiking guidebooks refer to a north branch and south branch of the Wright Trail. The current White Mountain Guide (29th edition) indicates that the north branch is closed to hikers. However, the website for Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands (MBPL) merely indicates that the north branch is not recommended for hiking. I don’t know if “not recommended” is the same as “closed”?
On my hike, when I arrived at the point where the south branch and north branch splits, there was no signage indicating that the north branch is closed, nor that it isn’t recommended for hiking. Also, the info that is posted at the trailhead kiosk for the Wright Trail, includes a trail map, but it does NOT show the north branch. Only the south branch is shown.
My guess is that the MBPL doesn't want to draw attention to the fact that the north branch trail is still there. And so, if that is the case, then this might explain why there are no signs posted about the north branch (neither at the trailhead, nor at the point where the two trails split).