The Maine Chapter of the AMC, along with assistance of the Friends of Burnt Meadow Mountains, have recently done some remarkable work to further develop and improve the trail system at Burnt Meadow Mountain and Stone Mountain. Since I had never hiked at this particular location, I decided to drive over to Maine and check it out. It's always such a thrill to experience any hike that is new to me!
The trailhead is located less than 2 miles south of Brownfield, ME on the west side of Rt. 160 about a tenth of mile south of the Public Boat Launch at Burnt Meadow Pond. There are directions at the website for the Friends of Burnt Mountain Meadows (click HERE).
From the trailhead (430 ft elevation), the blue-blazed Burnt Meadow Trail leads you 1.3 miles to the north peak of Burnt Meadow Mountain (1,575 ft elevation). So, when you do the math, that's nearly a 1,200 ft. elevation gain over a relatively short distance of 1.3 miles. Although it isn't a difficult hike, the climb is more than you might expect for a mountain that is just a tad above 1,500 ft!
Also, it should be mentioned that just below the summit, you need to do a scramble up a steep, rocky ledge (see photo below) Again, it isn't overly difficult, but is something good to know beforehand.
|You need to do a scramble up this steep, rocky ledge to reach the top of the mountain|
On your way up to Burnt Meadow Mountain, there are several open ledges which provide views of low-lying mountains in western Maine. Shown below is a typical vista.
|Typical vista from ledges en route to top of Burnt Meadow Mountain's north peak|
Also along the way, there is a spot where you can catch a view of Pleasant Mountain (next photo) which is located about midway between Fryeburg and Bridgton, ME.
|Pleasant Mountain, ME (as viewed from Burnt Mountain Meadow Trail)|
As you ascend, there are ledges which allow you to see your destination, i.e. Burnt Meadow Mountain's north peak (see next photo).
|Trailside view of your destination at Burnt Mountain's north peak|
Upon arrival at the top of Burnt Meadow Mountain, I was surprised at how much it lives up to its namesake. The summit is a broad, and relatively flat space that resembles a meadow that was once burned! Although I don't know this for certain, I presume that the top of this mountain was burned in the Great Fires of 1947 which raged throughout this area. (To read more about the history of Burnt Meadow Mountain, click HERE.)
|Summit of Burnt Meadow Mountain (North Peak)|
From the summit of Burnt Meadow Mountain's north peak, there are particularly nice vistas to the east and to the south. To the west, there are some views of high peaks in New Hampshire, primarily in the Sandwich Range. However, there are better vistas to the west and northwest from various ledges along the Twin Brook Trail.
Using the Twin Brook Trail enables you to do a loop hike. It is unsigned from the summit of Burnt Meadow Mountain. However, you can easily find the trail by heading westward along the summit and turning left onto a pathway near a large cairn. You'll soon see yellow blazes which will guide you on a 2.0 mile trek back to the Burnt Meadow Mountain Trail.
As mentioned a few sentences ago, there are nice views of high peaks in New Hampshire from ledges along the Twin Brook Trail. These ledges are at the upper end of the trail. The best vistas are obtained by going to unmarked outlooks just a few feet off the main trail corridor. Please be assured that the main trail is always in full sight. It's not a bushwhack!
Unfortunately, on the day of my visit, the westward views were very hazy. Nonetheless, the photos shown below might provide a general idea as to the types of vistas that are available from ledges along the upper end of the Twin Brook Trail.
|Westward view toward high peaks in New Hampshire's Sandwich Range|
|Northwest view toward peaks near Carter Notch (faintly seen at left of center)|
The top part of the Twin Brook Trail has soft footing and easy grades. The lower portion of the trail becomes more rocky as it descends steeply to the col with Stone Mountain. The next photo shows a segment of the upper end of the trail (left), and a segment of the lower end (right panel).
|Sample segments of Twin Brook Trail: upper end (left panel); lower end (right panel)|
Diverging from the Twin Brook Trail is the Stone Mountain Trail which just opened in 2010. This junction is marked with a sign. The blue-blazed trail leads you on a 0.72 climb to Stone Mountain. The corridor is very well laid out with several switchbacks. Even though there is nearly a 500 ft elevation gain, it's barely noticeable!
Once you reach the crest of the mountain, one branch of the trail will lead you straight ahead to ledges on the south flank of Stone Mountain. Another branch diverges to the right and will lead you northwesterly for a short distance along a faint pathway to the summit of the mountain which is located in a large field filled with blueberry bushes!
The vista from the ledges is predominately a view to the south and east. The next photo shows the southward view.
|Southward view from ledges on the south flank of Stone Mountain|
The main vista from the summit of Stone Mountain is a westward view toward high peaks in the Sandwich Mountain Range of New Hampshire. As mentioned earlier in this report, the westward vistas were very hazy on the day of my hike. Nonetheless, the next photo will perhaps provide a general idea of the view from the summit.
|Westward view toward high peaks in NH from summit of Stone Mountain|
This 4.8 mile loop involved hiking the entire distance of all three trails, i.e. Burnt Meadow Mountain Trail, Twin Brook Trail, and Stone Mountain Trail. Shown below is a trail map which is publicly available on the website for the Friends of Burnt Meadow Mountains.
|Map showing trail system at Burnt Meadow Mountain location|
To sum it up, I was very impressed with the trail system at the Burnt Meadow Mountain location. And despite the hazy conditions looking westward, I still experienced some pleasant views. Definite consideration will be given to making a return visit on a better viewing day.
(Just as a side note, this hike served as a nice counterbalance to a bushwhack that I did a few days prior to the Eagle Cliff Ridge in Franconia Notch. Click HERE to view a report of that trek.)