Freedom of the Hills: Bald Pate Mountain
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of autumn,” — John Muir, “Our National Parks,”1901.
By Allen Crabtree
Living in the Lake Region of Maine, we are very fortunate to have Bald Pate Mountain in our backyard to climb.
Bald Pate Mountain is part of the land preserve acquired by the Loon Echo Land Trust in response to an outpouring of community support to protect the mountain from the threat of a television tower. Since the first 450 acres of land were purchased in 1996, additional land has been purchased or donated to the Land Trust to expand the preserve.
Bald Pate Mountain tops out at only 1,150 feet and is not a high mountain. However, it is local and open to the public to enjoy. It is a very popular climb for all ages and abilities with nearly seven miles of easy and moderate hikes.
For only a very small expenditure of energy, hikers are rewarded with birds-eye views of Peabody Pond and Hancock Pond from the summit ledges. At the summit, there is a unique stand of pitch pine that has adapted to forest fires and the fragile soils on the ledges.
For more information about the Bald Pate Mountain trails or its natural communities, contact the Loon Echo Land Trust at 647-4352 or visit their website at http://www.lelt.org.
Bald Pate seems to be a popular name for a mountain. Our local Bald Pate Mountain is smaller and lesser known than a much larger namesake in western Oxford County near Bethel. This 3,812-foot Bald Pate Mountain was originally named Bear River Whitecap, has two distinct summits, and is traversed by the Appalachian Trail. There is also another, smaller Bald Pate Mountain (958 feet) just southwest of North Waterford, and are probably others scattered around the state.
The Denmark Mountain Hikers climb Bald Pate Mountain at least once a year as one of our easy hikes. The last time we did so was on June 8, 2012 in a three-mile loop that climbed to the summit via the Bob Chase Trail and returned to the trailhead using the South Face Loop Trail and the Moose Trail.
Recent rains had made the latter two trails wet and muddy. It is also tick season so we acquired numerous hitchhikers from the tall grass on the trails. I was wearing shorts and collected seven wood ticks on my bare legs, and others in our group picked up several more — no harm done. Just another minor annoyance to be aware of while hiking in Maine.
Bald Pate Mountain is located in South Bridgton.
Trail distance to the summit (one way): 0.8 mi Bob Chase Trail
Hiking time to the summit (one way): 20 to 30 minutes
Elevation: 1,150 feet
Vertical gain: 280 feet
Coordinates: 44 42 30 N 70 57 30 W
Directions to the trailhead: From Bridgton go west on Route 117 toward Denmark, turn south on Route 107 toward Sebago. Just past the Five Fields Apple Orchard (pick-your-own in the fall), the main parking lot entrance to Bald Pate trailheads is on the left, just opposite Bear Trap Road. There is a kiosk and large trail map. Most Bald Pate trails start here, but the trailhead for the Micah Trail is located on the Moose Cove Road, a short drive farther south on Route 107. The Town Farm Brook Trail starts near Holt Pond off Fosterville Road.
The trails: There is a network of 6.7 miles of trail on Bald Pate, all well marked and maintained. The most direct trail to the summit is the 0.8 Bob Chase Trail that leaves from the main parking lot. It is an easy climb with only a very moderate slope and good walking conditions, with a little ledge scrambling at the very summit.
There are a number of return options from the summit, including the Bob Chase Scenic Loop (easy), and the South Face Loop Trail (easy) that connects to the Moose Trail (easy) back to the parking lot, or to the Bob Chase Trail below the summit. A steeper descent on the Pate Trail (moderate, steep) over ledges and rocks will also connect with the South Face Loop Trail.
What to bring: Good boots, rain or wind gear, touring poles, tick and mosquito repellant, sunglasses, water and snacks, personal first aid kit, matches, map, compass and cell phone. Let someone know your hiking plans before you leave!
Next: The next hiking column will be about Mount Willard in Crawford Notch, N.H. For the next Denmark Mountain Hikers climb, check the Bridgton News community calendar.