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 Pleasant Mountain, ME 4-22-16 
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 Pleasant Mountain, ME 4-22-16
Pleasant Mountain is a wonderful place in Bridgton, Maine, that I had hiked a couple times years ago. I had always remembered it for fine views, a firetower and as being a great spring hike because of it's lower elevation (the highest summit on the ridge only tops 2007') But having been so long ago I forgot the finer details, and as such decided it was time for a return. I would take the route I used the previous two times, The MacKay Pasture/ Southwest Ridge trail, only today I would make things super sized by continuing on to the tops of the ski slopes of Shawnee Peak, the Northernmost point of this massif. What was to come was a surprising reminder that awesome hikes don't need to come in big packages!

The MacKay/Southwest Ridge trail starts on Denmark Road at a small lot surrounded by No Trespassing signs. The trailhead is on private property, but hikers are allowed as long as they do not stray from the hiking path. It is not until about 1/2 a mile in that the trail crosses onto Loon Echo Land Trust property (a local preservation group responsible for caring for several hiking destinations in the area), so take care to heed the warnings.

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The trail starts out through a pleasant (pun intended? :D ) forest of mostly hardwood on a well defined path.
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It isn't very long before you start hitting the ledges that help make this mountain the charming delight it is. And with the ledges also come the views!
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It wasn't long before an epiphany hit me....this trip so far reminded me very much of the hills and mountains of Acadia NP only transported a few hundred miles inland! The same thin forest, the same ledgy nature, the trailside viewpoints along the way.
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At 2.7 miles the Southwest Ridge ends and the Ledges trail cuts across to take you to the summit itself after a short, steep climb of .2 miles.
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At the summit is the firetower and of course the ledge view that makes this mountain popular. You get a straight shot look at the Presis into Tuckerman Ravine, though of course at the moment George was not cooperating.
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So from here I made the decision to go all the way to Shawnee Peak since it was only about 10:00 at this point and the day only promised to get better. Up to this point I had only ever gone as far as this summit, so everything would be new to me, and I am quite glad I did since the part I had done so far is only HALF the charm this mountain has to offer!

So I headed North on the Firewarden's Trail for the short distance to get me to the Bald Peak trail. From here it was the continuation of this spectacular ridge walks (I will say it was one of the best low elevation ridgewalks I have ever done!) for 1.2 miles to Bald Peak with more great ledge views along the way.

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(Kearsarge North)
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(Pleasant's main summit with firetower just visible)
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From the summit of Bald I picked up the North Ridge trail which loops around to the top of the ski slopes in .8 miles. The ski slopes are obviously closed now for the season, so it was serene and quiet with the cooing of morning doves and chickadees playing stark contrast to the metal-on-metal chink from the ski lifts. But as you can imagine, the views were worth the trip over.

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(George is still being a bit stubborn)
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I was now as far north I was going to go. It was time to backtrack all the way to the Firewarden's trail where I decided I would use that to go down instead of a full on backtrack, simply to add variety. Since the trailheads are off adjoining roads it just meant a roadwalk to get back to my car. But first, along the way, I finally caught Washington with his pants down....the money view I had come for!!!!

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So fastforward to the Firewarden's trail. I started heading down and immediately bumped into my first person of the day (yes, that is right, the bulk of my day I saw naught a single person) who asked if she was almost to the summit. I reassured her she was and began my final descent of the day. I won't say the Firewarden's trail has a lot going for it, but it is what it is, a fairly direct route up and down, and it does have it's highlights.

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The end.

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All that was left was the roadwalk which was made annoying by the fact that I thought it was only about a mile (it was actually a tad over 2) and swarming blackflies (thankfully not biting, but still annoying in their pestering of me.)

So all told this turned out much better than I expected, and I already expected it to be great. This peak is a dandy gem, and being only about 15 minutes away from Conway is something easily within most New Hampshire hiker's driving comfort range. I highly suggest giving it a go. If you wait until July I suspect you may fine little blue edible surprises growing in the pastures as well. :wink: It is loaded with great views, pretty woods and scenic ledges. What more could you ask for!? So to wrap this up, the Tale of the GPS for the numbers:

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Brian

P.S. For the full photo album of about 80 photos you can click here


Sun Apr 24, 2016 1:51 pm
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 Re: Pleasant Mountain, ME 4-22-16
Did someone say reminds them of Acadia??!! :D Looks like a great mountain. I know you had it planned in advance but these are the kinds of low level gems I love to keep in the bag for days when the higher stuff is socked in. I know some would rather climb 4000 feet into a cloud, but not me! This one has been on my to-do list for years, and seeing all that glorious ledge and even better than I expected views bumped it up higher. Thinking I'll hit it in blueberry season if you think it could have some. Looks like a great candidate for a sunset hike too. Good stuff!


Sun Apr 24, 2016 6:00 pm
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 Re: Pleasant Mountain, ME 4-22-16
Found this on the AMC website. Note under the "What's in the area" section this gem:

"Wild blueberries in season"

I guess this confirms it. Not that I needed much as the pasture area looks like nothing but a vast field of them! :lol:

Brian


Sun Apr 24, 2016 6:25 pm
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 Re: Pleasant Mountain, ME 4-22-16
So, apparently you had a pleasant hike. 8)

I was waving to you. :wink:
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Mon Apr 25, 2016 5:17 am
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 Re: Pleasant Mountain, ME 4-22-16
JustJoe wrote:
So, apparently you had a pleasant hike. 8)


Insert rim shot...badoom boom boom. :lol:

Brian


Mon Apr 25, 2016 6:20 am
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 Re: Pleasant Mountain, ME 4-22-16
Nice pics and report. For about 1500 feet of gain you get quite the payout! I'll file this high on the list of places to go to fill out a day.


Mon Apr 25, 2016 6:38 am
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 Re: Pleasant Mountain, ME 4-22-16
You had great views -- I was there on a SUPER hazy day late summer and could see as much of Washington as I could Kilimanjaro, but it was still a really interesting mountain. Absolutely, this has all the makings for a GG/gibba car spot traverse hike.

Also -- I'm not particularly prone to fear, but that fire tower had easily the most intimidating ladder I think I've ever been on. Especially with no landing at the top there was no compelling reason to go all the way up, so I think I hung out at around 2/3 for a while and climbed back down. You don't mention if you went up or not?


Mon Apr 25, 2016 12:08 pm
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 Re: Pleasant Mountain, ME 4-22-16
Grindboy wrote:
Also -- I'm not particularly prone to fear, but that fire tower had easily the most intimidating ladder I think I've ever been on. Especially with no landing at the top there was no compelling reason to go all the way up, so I think I hung out at around 2/3 for a while and climbed back down. You don't mention if you went up or not?


My first time there I, like you, only got about 1/2 way to 2/3rds of the way up before I was like "eh, no more." :lol: What is more is it looks like it is getting into a pretty bad state of disrepair. I don't even know if it is still active. But the wooden lower landing looks pretty bet up, and all metal has a good deal of rust. Not something to instill a lot of confidence in you. :oops:

Brian


Mon Apr 25, 2016 5:32 pm
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 Re: Pleasant Mountain, ME 4-22-16
And only one small pile of ice (other than in the distance) in all of your photos! I'm tempted to go now, but am also considering waiting for a more fruitful endeavor!


Tue Apr 26, 2016 10:32 am
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 Re: Pleasant Mountain, ME 4-22-16
Beckie and Prema wrote:
And only one small pile of ice (other than in the distance) in all of your photos! I'm tempted to go now, but am also considering waiting for a more fruitful endeavor!


Yeah, I was about to get to the ski area and was thinking "all day and not one speck of ice" and then that tiny patch appeared in front of me. DAY RUINED! :lol:

Brian


Tue Apr 26, 2016 5:24 pm
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 Re: Pleasant Mountain, ME 4-22-16
Pleasant MT is a hidden gem. My favorite loop is from the other side, up Bald Peak Trail, over to the top of the ski area on Sue's Way. Then pick up North Ridge Trail > Bald Peak Trail > Fire Wardens Trail and finally the Ledges Trail. The walk along Mountain Rd is fairly tolerable and passes quickly.
In season, the area from the top of the ski area to the summit of Bald peak is THE spot for blueberries. Loon Echo Land Trust has done a nice job with this area.

Map:
http://www.loonecholandtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/LELT-Pleasant-Mtn-Map-June-2015.pdf


Mon May 02, 2016 12:00 pm
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 Re: Pleasant Mountain, ME 4-22-16
I promised myself the next time there I am using that Ledges trail. I mean, how can the word Ledges NOT make you want to drop everything and go up it!? :D

Brian


Mon May 02, 2016 5:50 pm
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