Hiking in Maine: A bounty of beauty, just over the border

Hiking in Maine: A bounty of beauty, just over the border


A hiker on the precipitous cliffs on Bald Ledge overlooking Colcord Pond in Porter, Maine. Carey Kish photo

Foss Mountain is a local gem, one of those special places you either know about or you don’t. The bald peak, located in Eaton, New Hampshire, 3 miles west of the Maine state line, is accessible by a meandering half-mile path. Protected by the Eaton Conservation Commission, the wide open 1,654-foot summit of granite outcrops and lowbush blueberries affords one of the finest panoramas for the effort anywhere in New England.

Take the 20-minute hike, then sit for a spell in awe of the glorious vista that ranges on the New Hampshire side from the Ossipee Mountains to the Franconia Range to Mount Washington and much more. Over the Maine state line, you can see from the Mahoosuc Range to Speckled Mountain to Pleasant Mountain, to name just a few. The amount of public and private conservation lands and thousands of hiking trails within sight of your airy perch is simply astounding.

Closer in to the west are the ski slopes of King Pine, its lifts idle in the summer green, and just to its south, hidden by a low ridge, is Purity Lake and Purity Spring Resort. Family-owned and operated by the Hoyts, the resort has been hosting weary travelers for 111 years. This lovely place features a variety of cabins, cottages and rooms and makes a great base camp for hiking and other outdoor pursuits in the border region.

The 1,300-acre Purity Spring Resort is built around Purity Lake, 100 acres of clear, clean mountain water, so good that it was once bottled and sold. Spend a little time in this laid-back, friendly locale and you’ll get a good feel for the resort’s theme: “Lake life as it should be.” There’s a sandy swimming beach and a good selection of kayaks, canoes and paddleboards available for exploring about. There are hiking and mountain biking trails, too.

Abutting the resort is the Hoyt Wildlife Sanctuary, which encompasses about half of the lake’s southeastern shoreline. The 135-acre preserve was donated by the Hoyt family to New Hampshire Audubon in the 1950s. A network of four trails leads through tall pines over a lakeside esker to a kettle hole pond, beaver bog and the remains of the former Durgin homestead. It’s a pleasant walk that can be savored for several hours.

Purity Spring’s lodge serves up plenty of hearty food and drink, but if you’re there on a Thursday evening, you’ll want to get in on the big lobster bake out on Purity Island just up from the old dam, mill and spring house . The festive event attracts hungry diners from near and far, many in traditional Purity Spring summer garb: tie-dyed T-shirts.

There is so much to see and do around these parts, so after Foss Mountain, of course, you’ll want to investigate the mind-blowing Madison Boulder, the largest known glacial erratic in North America. This gargantuan rock, reached by an easy 3/4-mile stroll, is 23 feet high, 85 feet long and is estimated to weigh nearly 6,000 tons. Walk all around it to get the full “wow” effect.

At Tin Mountain Conservation Center in Albany, 6 miles of trails emanate from the Nature Learning Center. Wander through the 301 acres to see pretty Chase Pond, wetlands, cliffs and ledges, pine forests, a quarry, and a remarkable mountain laurel garden. The center has been dedicated to environmental education and land stewardship since its founding in 1980.

Green Mountain rises prominently from the Ossipee River valley in Effingham, just west of the Maine state line at Parsonsfield. The mountain is part of the 2,171-acre High Watch Preserve, a Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests property. Hike the High Watch Trail to the 1,883-foot summit and one of only 15 fire towers remaining in the Granite State.

Across in the Pine Tree State, Peary Mountain offers views ranging from Mount Washington to Pleasant Mountain, while the rocky ridgeline of Burnt Meadow Mountain looks out over the Saco River valley; both peaks are in Brownfield. Tackle Bald Ledge in Porter for a fabulous clifftop view of Colcord Pond and the Ossipee River valley.

If camping is more your thing on your borderlands adventure, Purity Spring also runs Danforth Bay RV Resort in nearby Freedom, complete with all the campground amenities plus a large pool and lakefront beach.

Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island is an award winning member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. His latest book by him, Beer Hiking New England, will be available early next spring. Follow more of Carey’s adventures on Facebook and Instagram @careykish


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