Camden Hills, ME - AMC Outdoors - Appalachian Mountain Club

Camden Hills, ME – AMC Outdoors

November 22, 2005

AMC Outdoors, December 2005

The Trip: Coastal mountain skiing in Camden Hills State Park

Length and Intensity: A moderate 7-mile loop (Ski Shelter) or 2.8-mile round-trip (Mount Battie) tour

Best Time To Go: Winter, in decent snow conditions

Seven Decades ago, Civilian Conservation Corps trail builders came to the Camden Hills. The current Slope Trail on Mount Megunticook’s north side is the approximate location of an old hand-graded CCC ski trail that was rated intermediate to expert, back in the day. Skiers in the 1930s used virtually all trails in the park. And what they saw then still goes today: good quantities of snow with excellent terrain for skiing. Some of the best and most scenic are found on Bald Rock (1,101 feet) and Cameron Mountain (811 feet), with exposed summits and views of Penobscot Bay.

Skiers can access both via the Ski Shelter Trail. Be aware that snowmobilers share this trail, once a fire road that led to a now defunct ski shelter. Ski up a gradual rise for 1.3 miles until you reach a gazebo and four-way trail junction. Heading off left, it is 0.8 mile up the Bald Rock Trail to the summit. Turning right, it’s a mile to Cameron Mountain. The trail up Bald Rock climbs steadily but gradually through mixed forest. Ten to 12 feet wide, the trail makes an excellent moderate downhill run in new snow.

From the cliffbound summit, you can see all the way to Cadillac Mountain in Acadia. Follow a flat old town road past abandoned farmland to Cameron Mountain, a treeless blueberry knoll rising 100 feet above the ski trail. This fun, gentle hill provides a nice view of the bay. From here, continue north on the trail to a junction. Bearing left, the Cameron Mountain Trail climbs uphill to its junction with the Sky Blue Trail, which wanders down through blueberry clearings and passes some huge black spruce trees before meeting up again with the Ski Shelter Trail. Another enjoyable tour is up the unplowed road on Mount Battie (800 feet).

From the parking lot behind the ranger’s house, it’s 1.4 miles uphill to the summit, and an enjoyable, sustained downhill ski back. A plaque on the summit honors the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, who drew inspiration during hikes in the Camden Hills. It’s easy to understand why. At the summit, find a classic Maine vista of gentle, rounded hills, a patchwork of farm and pastureland in the valleys, and the sea stretching off in the distance.

David Goodman writes and skis in Vermont.

Directions

Take US 1 north from Camden. Pass the ranger headquarters and the Mount Battie Auto Road entrance after 1.6 miles, and continue for another 4 miles to the junction of ME 173 north. Turn left and go 2.2 miles to Youngstown Road. Turn left, and the trailhead is immediately on the left.

Resources

Adapted from AMC’s Backcountry Skiing Adventures by David Goodman ($14.95). AMC’s Camden Hills map covers the park. Both are available at www.outdoors.org or by calling 800-262-4455.

Local Wisdom

Snowboarders take note: the Auto Road may be rideable if there is hard snow. The other terrain in the park is generally too gentle. And don’t miss Camden Snow Bowl, known for its terrifying toboggan run, which drops 400 feet down an icy sluiceway. Bring a change of underwear (www.camdensnowbowl.com).

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