Saturday, August 7, 2010

Round Top Mountain - Kennebec Highlands, Maine

Off for a few days vacation in Maine...

Maine Quilts 2010. Augusta, Maine. A really Big Quilt Show – 810 quilts, classes, etc. Can’t miss it! Well, my wife couldn’t miss it. After I dropped her off at the Augusta Civic Center, I went a few miles north and hiked Round Top Mountain in Rome, Maine. Part of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance land and the Kennebec Highlands.  It’s a 4 mile loop hike, moderate with some steep climbs to the 1100’ summit of Round Top Mountain.

Link to  Trail Map 
Trailhead parking on Watson Pond Rd, about 4 miles south from its junction with Route 27


The trails are well marked with blue blazes and trail signs, and very well maintained. From the trailhead, the Round Top trail takes you through a pine grove, up the east face of the mountain, and into a Birch forest that opens up to wide views of the surrounding mountains and lakes. It starts with a easy climb, through granite quarried for a foundation, and through the pine grove – the trail is all pine needles and tree roots.

One website described the Highlands area as home to moose, dear, bear, coyotes, bobcats, foxes and turkeys. I met a couple of trail runners on the way in. Nice guys, but with the clomping, talking and laughing as they ran ahead of me, there was little chance I’d run into anything bigger than a chipmunk on the way up!

The Round Top trail meets Kennebec Highlands trail, a signpost points your way. Stay on Round Top, up an old logging road to begin a steep climb. As the trail works its way up and through the woods, it opens in several spots to views of the lakes below – Round Pond and Watson Pond. Near the summit, an outcrop gives views southeast to the big lakes nearby. A spur trail takes you up to the mountain summit; there you look out to Mt. Phillip to the northeast, and the lakes below.

The trail climbs back down through a rocky area – and a log bench looking out to the east, a great place to stop for lunch. Farther down, the trail meets up again with Kennebec Highlands trail, a level dirt road, taking you back to the signpost and back to the parking lot at the trailhead. The trail map notes a ‘goat path’ as a trail back to the road, but staying on the blazed Round Top trail is a better bet.

Good hike, great views!
 
Long Pond and Great Pond in the distance (3 photos pieced together for a panoramic view)

Watson and Round Ponds
Granite Quarry, rock fall or hiking trail?  You decide.
Rocks along the trail -   must..  climb..  boulder

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