Freedom of the Hills: Douglas Mountain
By Allen Crabtree
Douglas Mountain (1,416 feet) is one of the four Saddleback Hills on the western side of Sebago Lake, and was named for early settlers John and Andrew Douglas.
Douglas Mountain is a fine climb in any season with four trails on the mountain allowing a loop hike. Hikers can ascend via the Eagle Scout trail (1.25 miles) that starts at the parking lot and connects with the Nature Trail (0.25 miles) to the summit. From the summit, descend either by the Woods Trail (0.75 miles) or the Ledges Trail (0.5 miles), then back along the road to the parking lot (0.4 miles). Or, the trail sequence may be reversed. Either way, the total distance for the Scout-Nature-Ledges-road loop is about 2.4 miles.
The Eagle Scout trail was the Eagle service project of Seth Newcomb, with assistance in selecting the route and building the trail from Fern Letellier and Ted Davis.
Dr. William Blackman, a New York surgeon, bought most of the acreage on Douglas Mountain in 1892 and built himself a summer home there. In 1925, thanks to his support, a 16-foot stone tower was built on the summit of the mountain that hikers can climb and enjoy wonderful views of Sebago Lake and the surrounding countryside. A Latin saying “NON SIBI SED OMNIBUS” is chiseled into a large boulder at the summit. This roughly translates to “not for one but for all” and was Dr. Blackman’s philosophy that everyone should have a chance to enjoy the views here.
The Denmark Mountain Hikers have climbed this mountain in all seasons, and found the views spectacular any time. This is not a tough hike and a minimal effort is rewarded with great views. The 2.4-mile loop took us only slightly over an hour when eight of us hiked it on March 30, 2012, but it could take a couple of hours if you have small children along or if trail conditions are not ideal.
Douglas Mountain is located Sebago.
Difficulty: Easy, with a few steep and slippery spots.
Trail distance: Approximately 2.4 miles using the Eagle Scout Trail and Nature Trail to ascend and the Ledges Trail to descend, and then back to parking lot.
Hiking time: 1 to 2 hours, round trip.
Elevation: 1,416 feet.
Vertical gain: 486 feet
Coordinates: N 43.8717 and W –70.6969
Directions: To parking lot, follow Route 107 north from Baldwin or south from Bridgton. If coming from the north, go through Center Sebago (town offices, fire station, church) and turn right (west) onto Dyke Mountain Road. At the top of the hill, turn left onto Douglas Mountain Road, and a short ways farther turn left at the signs to the Douglas Mountain parking lot. Parking is $3 by the honor system, with a drop box at the parking lot. Please do not park along the side of the road, or at the trailhead for the Ledges and Woods Trails.
The Trails: The Eagle Scout Trail (1.25 miles) starts at the parking lot and is well marked. It follows snowmobile trail S-7 part of the way around the mountain, crossing a small brook. The hiking trail then leaves the snowmobile trail to the right and climbs (short steep section), joining the Nature Trail near the summit. Go either right (1/4-mile) or left (1/2-mile) on the Nature loop trail to the summit, where the Ledges (1/2-mile) and Woods (3/4-mile) Trails begin. Either of these will bring you to the road, where it is another 0.4 miles back to the parking lot. The Woods Trail is the easier of the two trails, but a bit longer. The ledges on the Ledges Trail can be slippery when wet.
What to bring: Good boots, rain gear, sunglasses, water and snacks, personal first aid kit, map and compass, cell phone. Let someone know your hiking plans before you leave!
Next time: Peary Mountain in spring, Denmark.