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 Donnell Pond Public Lands - Maine - 4/16/16 
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 Donnell Pond Public Lands - Maine - 4/16/16
I had Saturday free but was flying solo (couldn't sucker anyone into joining me) and I told my wife I wouldn't go mess around on with all the ice up north, that three people a day seem to need rescuing on lately. But the coast of Maine is ice free already, and conveniently home to some hiking trails I had want to do for a while now. Last summer we took the kids up one of the mountains in the preserve (Tunk...http://forum.hike-nh.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=8709) and really liked what I saw, so the rest of the place moved higher up the to-do list. The Donnell Pond Public Land is home to a nice little cluster of mountains, ponds, lakes and forest, including the main reason I wanted to go there Saturday, Schoodic mountain. When viewed from Acadia it sticks out invitingly like a sore thumb across Frenchman bay. The mountains are modest in size but basically like a chunk of Acadia National Park on the mainland, complete with some low but bald and ledgy summits. It's a pretty good drive up the coast but I had nowhere to be a no time to be there so At 5 a.m. I hit the road.

Welcome to Vacationland!
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My map of the joint
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My plan was to do a big figure 8 loop around the preserve, tagging most of the summits in the western section along the way. I parked at the Schoodic Beach trail head and then went up the Schoodic Mountain trail. It gains about 800 on its way to the top, climbing through coastal spruce forests at first, then transitioning to small hardwoods and finally a big bald beautiful summit. As you climb up your pass a couple of viewpoints to the north looking over the rest of the reservation and closer to the top you come around the bend and the mountains of Acadia appear on the horizon. The last few hundred feet are all bare rock so you have views all-around as you finish the climb. The tiptop has a tiny communications tower on it but is otherwise undeveloped. The south facing side of the mountain is basically 1000 foot cliff face so it drop straight down giving you a amazing use out to the ocean and Acadia national Park. By far the best view of Acadia not in Acadia, with Frenchman bay and all of its little islands sitting at the foot of the entire chain of mountains across Mount Desert Island. A great view I had sought out for years, and after finally getting it I plopped myself down on the sunny open ledges had a snack and took it all in for about half an hour. Just me the sun the wind and the world. Not another soul in sight.

Time to head up Schoodic!
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Nice coastal spruce forests for a bit
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Opening up about halfway up
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The mountains of Acadia coming into view
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Hitting the wide open summit ledges
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Summit tower in sight, but not a single cloud
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Black, Caribou, Catherine and Tunk Mountains make up the rest of the preserve to the north
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To the south Mount Desert Island stands tall
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Another south facing view. The Sunrise Trail cutting through the lowlands, is a rail trail, mostly for ATV's
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Champlain Mountain area of Acadia and the Porcupine Islands
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Cadillac Mountain. Highest point on the eastern seaboard of the US
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All of Acadia
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Life is goo...no, make that GREAT!! 8)
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Tunk Lake, rumored to be the cleanest water in Maine, or so I read
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Thegibba will appreciate this one
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After having my fill I headed down to the other branch of the Schoodic Trail which heads for Schoodic Beach, and after a quick mile long descent found myself on the shore of Donnell Pond at the sandy beach. At the end of the beach, right on the water, there was a great looking camp site. Greater still because it's free! But quite a spot, an easy half mile walk in from the parking area. Down the beach I had a view of the cliff on Black Mountain, which I assumed the Black Mountain Cliff Trail would go up. I started up the trail, and quickly realized the trail made a loop up and around the top of the cliffs and did not actually climb up them. More lush green Spruce Forest and a few restricted viewpoints was what this trail offered up and after a little while I found myself at what I thought was the main summit of Black Mountain. A trail I had passed a few minutes before that was not on the map, as well as a faded trail sign that I didn't look closely enough at, combined to make me mistakenly think I was on the summit of Black Mountain, so, I took a right when I should've taken a left. Dropping steeply down the cliff bands my internal GPS told me something was wrong, but I checked and double checked the map and everything actually seemed to be adding up based on where I thought I was, until it wasn't. When I started the long flattish walk away from the mountains and toward Schoodic Mountain I knew I was headed back to the parking lot, and soon enough there I was back at my car. *#%@!!!!!

Up next...
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Black Mountain Cliff and East Black in the back
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A glimpse of Schoodic Beach
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You can camp, for free, right on the sandy beach
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Love this kind of trail
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And this...
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even a little bit of this
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Down at the beach
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Free camp site anyone??
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Black Mountain Cliff ahead
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Surprisingly the trail skirts the edge around and across it but provides minimal views
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Views like this
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But nice wooded trails like this
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It's all good
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I had a couple options then. I wasn't going back up the way I came, but the Big Cheif Trail started up another access road nearby, so I quickly drove that way, only to find the road washed out. The next option was to drive about half an hour to the northern access point for the Caribou Loop access trail, which is what I did by necessity more than by choice. I had planned to catch sunset from Schoodic Point in Acadia but that just went out the window, so I was in no real rush after that. I started in on the access trail off Dynamite Brook Road, which took me up the north side of Caribou Mountain to the first of many ledges along the ridge. Nice views to the north from a handful of them, mostly of Black and Schoodic across the preserve.

I thought this marked the start of the trail. Missed the faded yellow tips of the arrow pointing left. :oops:
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Descending the Black Mountain Cliff trail I thought something was wrong
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This way
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Turkey, back at the car. Both me and the bird :?
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Start of part II
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There really is a Mount Cathy out there, although it has a "C"
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Joining the 6 mile loop trail
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East Black, Black and Schoodic from Caribou
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Schoodic
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More ledgy goodness on Caribou
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Peek at Acadia
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East Black summit ledges
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The hike down and back up Black was a treat for me. Lots of emerald green old growth coastal spruce forest with a carpet of moss. My kind of woods! It was a steady climb but only 650 feet and I was at the trail junction I had planned to be at earlier in the day, only in the afternoon sun instead. I had to skip one nice looking ledgy sub-summit and a tiny pond I was looking forward too, but made it up to the east peak of Black Mountain, which is the highest of it's four summits at 1094 feet. Modest by most standards but like the summits in Acadia the top few hundred feet are all open ledges with great views in every direction. Other than Schoodic it was easily the best summit of the day so I spent a few minutes enjoying it.

Working down Caribous ledges
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The beautiful forest going up Black Mountain
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Spring green, even without leaves
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I can't get enough of this stuff
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Guardian of East Blacks precious summit ledges
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Once past him it was smooth sailing
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Looking at Caribou, Cathy and Tunk from East Black
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Looking back at West Black with Schoodic and Acadia beyond
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Moon over the summit
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Acadia on the horizon
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The ledgy sub-summit I had to leave for next time
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Now we get to the all good things must come to an end part. Black Mountain is the halfway point on the 8 mile loop mile I was on, so I kicked things into high gear (for me) to cover the next 4 miles before the sun set, as I wasn't familiar with the area and didn't want to chance another mix up be headlamp with nothing to get my bearings from. The trail made its way down the summit ledges and along the cliff bands under those, passing a trail that again isn't on the map, before getting down to the valley between the peaks. Rainbow Pond looked like a promising way point but the trail just skirted the edges of it's swampy area when I did finally get there, so onward I went to the worst part of the day, re-climbing 500 feet of Caribou Mountain, where I got one last look around before making the last downhill mile quickly back to my car.

Headed Down towards Tunk Lake
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Tunk Lake
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Rianbow pond down below
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The only snow I'd see all day hiding in East Blacks cliffs
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Close to Rainbow Pond, but never got there
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The ponds outlet brook
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Lovely evening in the woods
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A beaver pond, but still no Rainbow Pond
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One last look over the days territory after re-climbing Caribou
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My sweatshirt summed up the day nicely I thought :D
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Overall I enjoyed exploring this place and these mountains. While I'm glad I saw everything I did there are definitely a few highlight worth repeating, and a few spots I'm happy to just say I was there. Schoodic Mountain and the East Peak of Black Mountain were easily the two best summits. Along with nearby Tunk they may as well be transplants right out of Acadia. Caribou Mountain was OK but I could do without it and the trail around Rainbow Pond was nothing to write home about. The best loop you can do here, IMO, would be Schoodic, the Black Mountain Cliff Trail and a small loop around Wizzard Pond to the East summit of Black Mountain. More of a snowman shape than a figure 8 but you get the idea. My first hike of the day was 4.9 miles with 1700 beet of elevation. The second was 8.1 miles with 1800 feet. Totals, obviously, were 13 miles with 3500 feet. Not bad for a bunch of mountains that don't even hit 1100 feet.

If you ever wan't a good map of the place you can click here http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parksearch/PropertyGuides/Maps/FullSize/donnellpondmap.pdf


Tue Apr 19, 2016 11:45 pm
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 Re: Donnell Pond Public Lands - Maine - 4/16/16
Damn, you beat me to this one. :evil: :wink: Spotted Schoodic Mtn on my very first trip to Acadia. Tried to figure out what is on my Gamin MapSource maps the next time and did. Made it high on the list for a first, or last day hike. But have yet to pull the trigger.

As you said, like a sore thumb.
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Thanks for this TR. Never found that map, (not sure how hard I tried). And since I can't seem to get there, when I'm there. I may have to pull a GG on this one. 8)

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Wed Apr 20, 2016 6:31 am
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 Re: Donnell Pond Public Lands - Maine - 4/16/16
yup. you certainly found the spot where the giant picture on the wall of the Lynnfield EMS was taken from.
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I should have called out of work on this one!


Wed Apr 20, 2016 7:22 am
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 Re: Donnell Pond Public Lands - Maine - 4/16/16
All I can think if is ALL THAT DRIVING!!! Pretty area though. Love the sweatshirt.


Wed Apr 20, 2016 8:32 am
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 Re: Donnell Pond Public Lands - Maine - 4/16/16
JustJoe wrote:
Damn, you beat me to this one. :evil: :wink:
8)

JustJoe wrote:
As you said, like a sore thumb.
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Yep. That's the one. Schoodic, Tunk and the Blacks.

JustJoe wrote:
And since I can't seem to get there, when I'm there. I may have to pull a GG on this one. 8)


That's a good way to do it. It's an hour from BH. Who wants to spend two hours in a car when you're up there. Make a day trip (or overnight using that awesome beachfront site) and bag it, the Blacks and Tunk, or it and the Blacks and then go to the Schoodic peninsula part of Acadia and hike Schoodic Head and the Anvil. Another place that's hard to make the ride to when you have so much right at your doorstep in Acadia.

thegibba wrote:
yup. you certainly found the spot where the giant picture on the wall of the Lynnfield EMS was taken from.

I should have called out of work on this one!


You should have. But I'll happily go back. That is the spot. Funny thing is it's nowhere near the trail. Appears to have been taken at sunset, so, if we wanted to camp there next time up...

It is a long drive up there HL, but I took the China route, which is quite nice actually. That, and there were 7 girls and no boys at my house for the weekend. I was all too happy to spend the day doing this trip. :wink: Sweatshirt was a Christmas present from my inlaws. Nice, but I try not to take the saying literally too often. :D


Wed Apr 20, 2016 9:07 am
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 Re: Donnell Pond Public Lands - Maine - 4/16/16
Wowee! Electric blue blazes!

You can really camp right on the pond there? Looks like a great place and worth the drive.


Wed Apr 20, 2016 8:23 pm
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 Re: Donnell Pond Public Lands - Maine - 4/16/16
Yes. Right on the water. And yes free.

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Wed Apr 20, 2016 9:15 pm
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 Re: Donnell Pond Public Lands - Maine - 4/16/16
Looks awesome and definitely a place to check out. After we had hit the Moat this weekend, J and I agreed that we'll need to keep Maine in mind more for hiking for the warm months. There's lots to do there that doesn't feel like it will be as busy. It makes me think of that spot in effingham, where just right there, is the Maine state line. Lots of pretty places to see, so close.


Thu Apr 21, 2016 9:17 pm
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