Difficulty: Easy-moderate. Though the mountain is more like a hill, rising just 755 feet above sea level, the 1.3 mile loop trail includes some rocky sections. The hike to the top should get your heart pumping.
How to get there: Drive to the junction of Routes 27 and 225 in Rome. Turn east on Route 225 and drive 1.5 miles. The trailhead parking area is located on the left, directly across from Starbird Lane.
Information:In 2004, Belgrade Regional Alliance (BRCA), in collaboration with Pine Island Camp, acquired 207 acres on Mount Phillip, including the hiking trail and summit. The loop trail, marked with blue BRCA signs, leaves from the parking area and splits in 0.1 mile, where the loop begins. You can hike the loop clockwise or counterclockwise. In either direction, the trail gradually climbs through a forest of maple, birch, oak, white pine and hemlocks. Ledges near the summit offer great views of Great Pond to the south and the Kennebec Highlands to the west.
The loop trail is almost completely wooded and provides good shelter from sun, rain and wind. Near the summit of the mountain is a stone seat and plaque, a memorial to Jean Anderberg, 1950-2008. Carved into the base of the stone seat is the quotation, “Now I walk in beauty,” the first words of the song sung at her graveside service, according to a memoriam printed by the Lyre Association of North America in “Lyre Notes” Fall 2012. Jean Anderberg was a long-time board member of the association. The memorial on Mount Phillip was created by her family. Her husband, Jim Anderberg, had a sculptor create the seat from a granite boulder that was removed from his wife’s grave site. The seat was carried up the mountain (a little less than a mile) by their three sons.
For “Lyre Notes,” Jim Anderberg wrote, “Mount Phillip is the last hike Jean and I went on. The seat is placed at the spot after a steep climb where Jean rested and enjoyed a gorgeous view of Great Pond and the mountain range on the Maine coast.”
The Mount Phillip trail is free to use year-round, but donations are welcome. A box for donations is located beside the trail shortly after the trailhead. Pets are permitted. For information, call the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance at 495-6039.
Personal note:Take some time to enjoy the tall, mature hemlocks growing on the mountain. The eastern hemlock, a member of the pine family, is the most tolerant of eastern conifers, according to a report by the US Forest Service. Easily recognizable by its short, flat needles, the tree can grow to a height greater than 100 feet . This slow-growing, long-lived tree thrives in a cool, humid climate and may take 250-300 years to fully mature and can live for 800 years or more.