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24 July 2014

Several Days of Hiking in Moosehead Lake Region near Greenville, ME

In mid-July 2014, I spent several hiking in the Moosehead Lake Region near Greenville, Maine.  It was my first visit to this extraordinarily beautiful area and I enjoyed it immensely.

For any reader who might be unfamiliar with the Moosehead Lake Region of Maine, it's really "out there" in terms of being in a rather remote location (see map below).
Map showing location of Moosehead Lake Region (click to enlarge)
By surface area, Moosehead Lake is the largest lake in the State of Maine, and is the largest mountain lake east of the Mississippi contained within one State.  It is over 40 miles long, and is 20 miles wide in some places.  It's also worth noting that Henry David Thoreau explored the region with Indian guides in the mid-1800's. His famous novel, "The Maine Woods", is a collection of his hand-written accounts of the time that he spent in this area.

In terms of hiking, there are at least twenty fabulous treks that can be done using Greenville, ME as your home base (click HERE for a list).  I merely scratched the surface by doing only five hikes during my 3-day visit.

One of my more enjoyable adventures was to Mt. Kineo.  The most direct and most practical way to reach the trailhead is via a ferry from Rockwood, Maine.  It's a marvelous hike that I've been wanting to do it for years!

Other hikes included a trek to Big Moose Mountain which offers tremendous views of the Moosehead Lake Region.  I also hiked to two waterfalls, i.e. Little Wilson Falls, and Moxie Falls.  And in addition, a short trek was done to Elephant Mountain to visit the 1963 crash site of a USAF Boeing B-52C Stratofortress bomber.

I hope to return to the Moosehead Lake Region (possibly this year) to do some more hiking.  However for some of the adventures that I have in mind, extra time will need to be allocated just for getting to the trailhead.  For many of the hikes in certain parts of Maine, getting to the trailhead can be a challenge unto itself!  Here in the White Mountain Region of New Hampshire where I live, you can drive to nearly all of the major trailheads on paved roads.  It's sort of like pulling into a McDonald's drive thru!   Whereas in Maine, the journey to a trailhead can involve many, many miles of travel on unmarked gravel roads using "fly by the seat of your pants" navigation!


This mountain is an impressive sight, with an almost sheer cliff that rises more than 700 feet above the surface of Moosehead Lake.  The hike to the 1,789 ft summit is just over 4 miles round-trip if you take the most common route of ascending via the Indian Trail and descending via the Bridle Trail.  It's a fabulous hike, and has the unique aspect of a trailhead that is reached via a ferry from Rockwood, Maine.  It's about a 10 minute ride, and costs $10 round-trip.  (Click HERE for more information about Mt. Kineo.)

Posted on an information kiosk at the ferry dock is an aerial photo of Mt. Kineo, as well as a trail map.
Aerial photo of Mt. Kineo that is posted at the ferry dock kiosk
Trail map for Mt. Kineo posted at the ferry dock. I ascended via the Indian Trail, and descended via the Bridal Trail.  (For any return visit, I'll likely ascend via the Indian Trail and then do a long loop by taking the North Trail to the Carriage Trail.)
Snapshot taken of Mt. Kineo during my ferry ride to the trailhead
Snapshot taken of Little Spencer and Big Spencer during my ferry ride to the trailhead (hope to hike to one or both of these mountains on some future trip to the Moosehead Lake Region)
Photo taken while hiking to the western end of Mt. Kineo to begin ascent via the Indian Trail.
The starting point for the Indian Trail at the western end of Mt. Kineo
One of many picturesque views available from Indian Trail during ascent to top of Mt. Kineo
One of many striking views from the top of Mt. Kineo


The hike to this 3,196 ft mountain is about 6 miles round-trip.  Big Moose offers tremendous views of the Moosehead Lake Region.  However, on the day of my hike, the views were somewhat diminished by a persistent haze.

Big Moose was formerly named Big Squaw Mountain, and from 1963 to 2011, it was home to an alpine ski center known as Squaw Mountain. (You can read more about this former ski area by clicking HERE.) 
This composite photo contains an old post card that promoted skiing at Squaw Mountain, plus a photo I took from a location on Big Moose that provided a view similar to the post card image. 
As previously indicated, conditions were hazy on the day of my visit to Big Moose.  This photo was my clearest shot.
As the crow flies, Mt. Kineo is about 15 miles north of Big Moose Mountain.  Despite the haze, I was able to see Mt. Kineo where I had hiked the day before.  This composite photo shows an un-zoomed view of Mt. Kineo (top) and a zoomed image (bottom). 
Besides the expansive vistas, there are a couple of other items of interest at the top of Big Moose, such as the footings of what is said to be the first fire tower in the U.S.  It was built in 1905.
Near the old fire tower footings is modern day communication equipment, along with a helipad used for bringing supplies to this facility.
About midway between the trailhead and the summit there is an abandoned Ranger's cabin.


This waterfall is located along the Appalachian Trail in Elliotsville Township, Maine.   Reportedly, it has about a 40 ft drop.  However, I could SAFELY only photograph the upper portion.  The remaining portion was hidden from my vantage point as it dropped into a deep and narrow gorge.
Little Wilson Falls


This 90 ft drop waterfall is very impressive!  It's a bit touristy, despite being located in a rather remote spot of Maine called The Forks Plantation.  I found it interesting that in Maine, a "plantation" is a type of minor civil division falling between township and town.   There are 34 locations in Maine that are legally organized as plantations, and nearly all are in sparsely populated areas.
Moxie Falls


On 24-January-1963, a USAF Boeing B-52C Stratofortress lost its vertical stabilizer due to buffeting stresses caused by turbulence during low altitude training maneuvers.  It crashed on Elephant Mountain about 6 miles from Greenville, ME.   The pilot and the navigator were the only survivors of the nine-member crew. (Click HERE for more information about this crash.)
Composite photo showing one of several informational placards, as well as a photo I took of one of the many pieces of wreckage scattered over a wide area of the mountain.
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Before ending this report, here is just one other tidbit of information that I found interesting about this region.  Moosehead Lake is the source of the Kennebec River which is the most formidable un-bridged crossing along the entire 2,185-mile Appalachian Trail.  Under the best of circumstances, the Kennebec River crossing is approximately 70 yards wide with a powerful current.  At no cost to hikers, there is a ferry service at the point where the Appalachian Trail crosses the Kennebec.



JustJoe said...

What a great looking trip John. That's an area in Maine I've given little thought to exploring. It certainly seems to have everything.

Thanks for sharing,

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Joe! Thanks for stopping by to take a look at my report, and for taking time to post a reply.

You are so right about that area of Maine having a little bit of everything. Once I began to research the Moosehead Lake Region, I was blown away by the number and variety of hikes that are available.

Although I feel it’s well worth it, nonetheless it’s one heck of a long drive to get there from most anywhere! Also, as mentioned in my report, getting to some of the trailheads involves a lengthy drive on roads that are unpaved and often unmarked with signage. Guess you could sort of think of it as bushwhacking by car! :-) Regardless, it’s all fun stuff. Hope you have the opportunity to visit this part of Maine at some point. Am pretty sure you’d love it!


Anonymous said...

Christopher Keene has a great hiking book for the Moosehead area. The Indian Hill Trading Post sells it. Also, I highly recommend Eagle Rock, Borestone, and Big Spencer.

1HappyHiker said...

Josh, thank you so much for the book recommendation, as well as the hike recommendations.

I’ll be certain to get a copy of the Christopher Keene book that you recommended. Borestone Mountain and Big Spencer were already on my “short list” for my next visit to the Moosehead Lake area. Now I’ll also add Eagle Rock, per your recommendation. :-)


Steve Smith said...

John, Thanks for the excellent "sampler" of an area of Maine I've never been to. Looks like it has potential for several hiking vacations. That is one big lake!


1HappyHiker said...

Thanks for reading my blog Steve, and for posting a reply. Very much appreciated!

The Moosehead Lake Region totally exceeded my expectations. I suspected it would be nice, but "super nice" was a pleasant and total surprise!

If you and Carol ever have the opportunity to explore this area, I think you would find it to your liking. Even without doing any intense hiking, my wife Cheri was captivated by the beauty of the Moosehead Lake Region as a whole, and with the charm and unpretentious nature of Greenville itself.


One Day in America said...

Hi John,

I just returned from a two week vacation without internet access and so I'm catching up on reading your blog.

This looks and sounds like a fantastic adventure! I love the description of the Mt. Kineo hike. Combining a ferry ride with a great hike on a beautiful day sounds wonderful. The photos from Big Moose and Little Wilson Falls are impressive too. But that crash site from the B-52 bomber is really amazing—51 years and the wreckage (on your photo, anyway) has barely decomposed.

I've only been to Maine three times in my life and I would love to return some day. Your trips to Maine have given me some great hiking ideas if I ever get back to "vacationland".

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Rita,

Welcome back! Hopefully, your recent vacation was a “blog-worthy” adventure, in which case I’ll look forward to reading your report on your blog (

It’s nice to read that my blog has provided you with a few ideas for hikes, when and if you should ever make a return trip to Maine. The information sharing aspect of blogging can be very rewarding!

And last, but certainly not least, thank you for faithfully following my blog and taking time to provide feedback via the replies that you post.


Summerset said...

Wow! Just beautiful! As always, your photos are quite enticing and you definitely have found not only the beauty of the area, but some of the history behind it.

Your excursions took you further into Maine than we went. We just got back from two week backpack on the AT, Gorham to Bigelows. Trip report coming soon!

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Summerset . . . thanks for stopping by to read my report.

Yup! Moosehead Lake is really “out there”! :-)

I’ll very much look forward to reading about your 2-week backpacking adventure in Maine.


Janet Chasse said...

Just came across your blog, thanks for coming to our area and checking it out. Take a look at the fb page Moosehead Lake News & Information sometime, and if you would like to send any photos for us to share, we'd appreciate it. Janet

1HappyHiker said...

Janet, thank you for reading my blog, and especially thank you for making me aware of the Facebook page: “Moosehead Lake News & Information”. I have ‘liked’ it and very much look forward to receiving the news feeds from this page.