1-minute hike: Blue Hill Mountain, Blue Hill, Maine

Difficulty: Easy-moderate. The Hayes Trail is steeper and rockier than the Osgood Trail, which switchbacks up the mountain for a more gradual ascent.

How to get there: Parking is available both at the Osgood and Hayes trailheads on Mountain Road in Blue Hill. From the junction of routes 172 and 15 in Blue Hill, drive 0.9 mile on Route 15. Turn right onto Mountain Road. Drive 0.4 mile to the Osgood Trailhead, which is on the left side of the road. Park on the right side of the road. Or continue another 0.4 mile to the Hayes Trailhead, which is on the left side of the road. A small parking area is across from the trailhead on the right side of the road.

Information: Blue Hill Mountain is a 934-foot monadnock (isolated mountain) that has long been an important local landmark. The mountain also bears the name “Awanadjo,” an Abenaki word meaning “small, misty mountain.”

Local residents have put the mountain through several transformations. From the mid-1700s to the mid-1800s, the mountain and surrounding countryside was almost completely deforested for agriculture, blueberry cultivation, coal and lumber. In the late 1800s, the mountain was host to mining operations for rhodonite, a substance that enhances the durability of iron. A roadway to the summit was built for mining, and people began using it recreationally (often in horse-drawn carriages) to enjoy the views.

In 1947, following a series of destructive statewide fires (one which burned Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park), the Forest Service built a fire tower on the top of Blue Hill Mountain, as well as a ranger cabin. The fire tower, last used in the 1990s, was removed in 2005 by the Maine Forest Service; and the ranger cabin was removed in 2007.

The communications tower on the open south face of the mountain was constructed in 1981 to allow for transmitters and repeaters for many different community organizations and businesses. And in 2005, the tower was rebuilt to serve cell phone users as well.

Today, nearly 500 acres on Blue Hill Mountain is conserved. The transition began in 1975, when property on the southern slopes of the mountain was left to the Town of Blue Hill by Ruth Hayes “for conservation purposes.” In 1989, adjoining land was given to Blue hill Heritage Trust by Louise Frederick. Under management of Blue Hill Heritage Trust and the Town of Blue Hill, many improvements have been made to the trails, including several sets of stone stairs and rerouting the Hayes Trail to avoid further erosion.

Blue Hill Mountain has a network of four trails.

Osgood Trail (0.9 mile to summit) is mostly wooded and switchbacks up the mountain to the summit. The change of this trail is in navigating exposed roots the cross over the trail and also hiking up several sets of rough rock stairs. The trail continues past the rocky summit to the communications tower. Just past the tower, the trail connects to the Hayes Trail.

Hayes Trail (0.7 mile to summit) begins in an open field. As the trail ascends, hikers are often open to the elements and can look down at stunning views of the surrounding countryside and nearby ocean. This trail is steeper, rockier and more challenging than the Osgood Trail. As it nears the summit, it enters a forest of mature spruce and fir.

South Face Trail (0.25 mile) links the Osgood Trail and Hayes Trail (roughly halfway up the mountain), creating the opportunity for a loop hike without having to walk along the Mountain Road.

The Tower Service Trail (0.7 mile) was built by and at the expense of Blue Hill Mountain Leasing, a local company that owns the tower. Hikers are welcome. This trail provides the most gradual ascent (or descent). It is a good alternative to the steeper portion of Hayes Trail. To hike up the Tower Service Trail, start on the Hayes Trail. A little less than halfway up the mountain, take a right onto the Tower Service Trail, which will lead you up to the juncture with Osgood Trail and Hayes Trail near the summit of the mountain.

These trails are for foot traffic only. People should carry out what they carry in, stay on the trail, kindle no fires and stay clear of the communications tower. Dogs are allowed if kept on a leash.

Blue Hill Heritage Trust is a nonprofit, membership-based land conservation organization founded in 1985 by residents of the Blue Hill Peninsula in Coastal Maine to conserve the unique landscape of the peninsula: pristine shores, blueberry-covered hills, working farms, wetlands, forests, ponds, and breathtaking views. To date, they have protected more than 6,100 acres for future generations.

“In true New England fashion, we are taking private action for the public good, to help ensure that increasing development pressure does not destroy the character of this remarkable place,” said Jen Plowden, membership coordinator of the trust. “Our work is voluntary and it is forever.”

For more information: www.bluehillheritagetrust.org.

Personal note: I was pleasantly surprised by the trails on this mountain, as well as the variation of habitat and number of outlooks. While hiking up the Osgood Trail, I saw a snake sunbathing on a fallen birch tree and was able to snap a few photos before it burrowed under a layer of fallen leaves. I think it was a garter snake, but I’m no herpetologist. I did notice that the pattern on its back was surprisingly colorful – faint green and purple checks broken up by yellow stripes – or that’s how it appeared to me.

After hiking up Osgood Trail and hitting the summit, I continued on to the communications tower and the Hayes Trail. I descended the Hayes Trail until I reached the South Face Trail, which I used to hike back to the Osgood Trail and back down to my vehicle.

Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com.