Difficulty: Moderate. Round trip, the hike is 2.6 miles if you start at the Bald Mountain Road trailhead; and little under 4 miles if you start at the Route 4 trailhead. The trail climbs gradually at first but becomes increasingly steep and rocky. Thick roots snaking across the trail can make footing tricky. The second half of this trail, mainly rock, can be dangerously slippery after rain.
How to get there: The trail to the summit can be accessed from two trailheads. The primary trailhead is located on Bald Mountain Road in Oquossoc, where there is a nice parking area and privy. To get to Bald Mountain Road, travel west on Route 4 through the small village of Oquossoc (beside Rangeley). Just before the highway dead ends at the edge of Mooselookmeguntic Lake, make a left on Bald Mountain Road and drive approximately 0.8 mile. The parking area is on the left.
An alternative trailhead is located on the left side of Route 4, just before turning left onto the Bald Mountain Road. The large parking lot serves as parking for boaters, but it also provides access to a trail linking with the Bald Mountain trail. The trailhead is at the rear of the parking lot. Using this parking lot adds a considerable distance to the overall hike. From the trailhead, hikers must walk about 1 mile to reach the juncture with Bald Mountain Trail.
Information: Rising between Rangeley Lake and Mooselookmeguntic Lake, Bald Mountain (2,443 feet in elevation) is a popular day hike for people of the Rangeley Lakes Region. The 1.3-mile trail that climbs the mountain’s western side to the summit is open to the public free of charge. On the summit is a sturdy lookout tower, which was dedicated to Richard A. Spencer by the Maine Department of Conservation, Bureau of Parks and Lands and Mooselookmeguntic Improvement Association in 1999. Spencer, co-founder of the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, has helped to assure than more than 10,000 acres of the forest visible from the tower will remain undiminished for generations to come. A dedication plaque is secured in the rock near the base of the tower. From the top of the tower, hikers can enjoy a 360-degree panorama of the region’s mountains and lakes. Saddleback Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain and the Bigelows are all easily seen from the tower on a clear day. A picnic table on the exposed granite summit, just beside the tower, is a great place for lunch.
The northern slope of the mountain was home to a ski area that has been out of business since the late 1960s. The lifts have been removed, but some ski trails, overgrown in places, remain. For information about Bald Mountain Public Reserve Land, visit www.maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/doc/parksearch/index.pl and search under public land or call the Bureau of Park and Lands Western Public Lands Office in Farmington at 778-8231.
Personal note: Moose are abundant in the area and should be given wide berth. Also, look out for moose while driving to the trail. Not far from the summit, I noticed a side trail to my left and decided to explore. Just a short distance up the trail is a boulder that you can scramble up for an open view of the lakes. This is also a good spot to rest before the final stretch of steep trail to the summit.