In mid-September 2013, I did a hike in the Tumbledown Mountain region of Maine. This might sound like an exaggeration, but I will say that this was the most enjoyable hike I've done to date!
However, as pleasurable as this adventure was, it got off to a very rocky start! Coming from the east, Byron Road is used to access the trailheads for the Tumbledown Trail system. Upon arriving at Byron Road I was shocked to see that the road was closed!!
|Byron Road closed on day of my hike!|
Being unfamiliar with the back roads in this area, it required some scrambling to determine if there was any alternative routes that could be used. After receiving some misinformation and misdirection, an alternative route was found thanks to Jerry, the owner of the Weld General Store. He indicated that I could bypass the closed section of road by taking West Side Road to Westbrook Brook which intersected Byron Road beyond the section that was closed. For any reader who might need this alternative routing, it is shown in the map below.
|Alternative route to Tumbledown Trail System from the vicinity of Weld, ME|
Even before the road-closure issue, I was already running short on time. So, after having lost over an hour of valuable hiking time, I needed to reassess and quickly improvise a shorter route than originally planned. And so, I ended up doing a loop by using the Brook Trail for both the ascent and descent. The middle part of the route involved hiking the Tumbledown Ridge Trail to West Peak, then hiking an unofficial trail to North Peak, and continuing on that trail to the junction of the Pond Link and Parker Ridge Trail.
For the remainder of this report, I'll mostly let the photos tell the story of this marvelous hike.
From the West Side Road, I took a snapshot of the Tumbledown/Jackson Mountain grouping (next photo).
|Tumbledown/Jackson Mountains as viewed from West Side Road near Weld, ME|
Once I finally got on the trail, it took just a little over an hour to reach Tumbledown Pond. Along the way to the pond, there wasn't much of interest to see until I neared the junction with the Parker Ridge Trail where I got the picturesque view shown in the next photo.
|Vista seen from Brook Trail near the junction with the Parker Ridge Trail|
At the junction of the Brook Trail and Parker Ridge Trail, I was greeted with my first view of a portion of Tumbledown Pond.
|Approaching Tumbledown Pond from junction of Brook Trail and Parker Ridge Trail|
The views from the shoreline of the pond were stunning. The next photo is just one of the many eye-catching scenes.
|One of many eye-catching scenes from shoreline of Tumbledown Pond|
Eventually I had to pull myself away to head up the Tumbledown Ridge Trail. The trail begins its ascent via the rocky slabs seen in the next photo at center-left.
|Tumbledown Ridge Trail begins ascent at rocky slabs seen at center-left|
As I climbed higher along the Tumbledown Ridge Trail, I began to get an overview of the entire Tumbledown Pond.
|Overview of Tumbledown Pond as seen while climbing Tumbledown Ridge Trail|
Besides the views of Tumbledown Pond, there were other views along the route, such as a view of Webb Lake.
|View of Webb Lake from Tumbledown Ridge Trail|
While approaching Tumbledown's West Peak, there was a nice westward view of many mountain peaks, including the Presidential Range in New Hampshire.
|Tumbledown's West Peak on right, peaks in Presidential Range on distant horizon|
After visiting Tumbledown's West Peak, I backtracked a few hundred feet to pick up the unofficial trail that leads over to Tumbledown's North Peak. Unless someone decides to remove the signage currently painted on the rock slab shown below, it would be difficult to miss the starting point for this trail. However, beyond the starting point, this unofficial trail can be challenging to follow in some spots. It should probably be attempted only by experienced hikers.
|Start of the unofficial trail to North Peak from West Peak|
From the ridgeline of North Peak, there is a very nice view looking over at West Peak.
|View of West Peak from ridgeline leading to North Peak|
Also along North Peak's ridgeline was a view toward Webb Lake which was slightly different from the one seen earlier from West Peak's ridgeline.
|View of Webb Lake from North Peak's ridgeline|
From Tumbledown's North Peak I experienced the most dramatic view of the day. From a nearby ledge, I was able to look straight down at Tumbledown Pond. The next photo shows this view.
|Tumbledown Pond as viewed from a ledge near top of North Peak|
Upon seeing this stunning view, I moved a bit further down the ledge to a very comfortable spot to eat my lunch. It was so wonderfully weird to be the only person on the planet on this particular who was having their lunch at this incredibly extraordinary spot.
|Perched high above Tumbledown Pond eating my lunch|
Shown in the next photo is a close-up zoomed view of Tumbledown Pond
|Close-up zoomed view of Tumbledown Pond|
In addition to the outstanding distant views, and the nearby views of Tumbledown Pond, there were many dazzling views of trailside features along the ridgelines of West Peak and North Peak. Some of these scenes are shown in the next 4 photos. There are no captions. I'm sort of left speechless as to how to label them!
Particularly prominent on North Peak were ledges with unusual striations, as seen in the next photo Perhaps a reader of this Blog can provide some geologic details as to how they were formed, etc?
[ADDENDUM: Subsequent to writing this report, a State of Maine website was located which discusses the geology of Tumbledown Mountain (click HERE).
|Unusual striations seen on ledges of Tumbledown's North Peak|
After descending North Peak and arriving at the junction of the Pond Link and Parker Ridge Trail, I still had about 30 minutes before I reached my turnaround time. This small amount of time was spent exploring a short segment of the Parker Ridge Trail in order to get some different viewing perspectives from the east side of Tumbledown Pond. I'm so glad that I took this extra half-hour. The views were excellent!
The next photo shows Tumbledown Pond as viewed from the edge of a small tarn along the Parker Ridge Trail.
|Tumbledown Pond as viewed from edge of a small tarn along the Parker Ridge Trail|
Another outstanding view from the Parker Ridge Trail included a vista looking up at Little Jackson Mountain.
|Little Jackson Mountain as viewed from a point along the Parker Ridge Trail|
To sum it up, despite the rather shaky start to this hike, and the impromptu route change, I will state what was said at the beginning of the report. This was the most enjoyable hike I've done to date!