Difficulty: Easy-moderate. Though this hike is relatively short, a steep section of the trail requires the assistance of ladders and rope. People scared of heights may find this section difficult because the trail switchbacks up cliffs. The hike should take 2-3 hours, depending on your pace. From the trailhead to the summit, the trail is about 1.3 miles, according to the eighth edition of AMC’s “Maine Mountain Guide.”
How to get there: From Bangor, take Route 1A east to Route 46 in Holden. Turn left at the light and travel about 3 miles and then turn right onto Blackcap Road. Travel about 1 mile and turn left onto Camp Roosevelt Road. Continue to the parking lot. The trailhead to Woodchuck Hill is at the Pamola Campsite.
Information: Rising just over 800 feet above sea level, Woodchuck Hill provides nice views of nearby Snowshoe Pond, Fitts Pond and Blackcap Mountain. The trailhead is located at Camp Roosevelt, a Boy Scout Camp in Eddington.
Before visiting, notify the camp rangers of your hiking plans by calling 843-5981. If camp is in session, you might be asked to sign in at the Peter G. Vigue Scout Center and acquire a visitor’s tag. You can also get a map of the camp trails at the center.
The trailhead is at the Pamola Campsite. Walk past the waterfront of Fitts Pond (on the right) and the field (on the left), and at the next road juncture, take a left. Walk past the Health Lodge (on the left) and snowshoe campground (on the right), and straight ahead, you will see a trail leave the road. The trail will be marked with a sign that reads “Pamola,” as well as a blue and yellow blaze on the boulder beneath the sign. The coordinates to the trailhead are N 44 46.238, W 068 33.101, according to geocaching.com.
The trail, marked with blue and yellow blazes leads to Snowshoe Pond, crossing a dirt road along the way. This first part of the trail travels over fairly even terrain. After the pond, the trail crosses the Bangor Water District Road, which is dirt, and continues on to reach the bottom of the steep face of Woodchuck Hill. The trail then switchbacks up cliffs and over boulders. A few ladders and a rope aid hikers with the steeper sections. Hikers can enjoy several outlooks on the way to the summit, a small clearing surrounded by forest. Just before the summit, is a geocache site at coordinates N 44 46.602, W 068 32.561, a metal box tied up in dead pine.
At the summit of the mountain, you have an option to return the way you came or to descend on a more gradual trail, which ends at the Bangor Water District Road and the gate to for Bangor Water District. Walk along the road to return to the yellow-and-blue-blazed trail near Snowshoe Pond. Return to the trailhead and Camp Roosevelt along the yellow-and-blue-blazed trail.
At the base of Black Cap Mountain and surrounding the 300-acre Fitts Pond, Camp Roosevelt is located on more than 1,800 acres of forestland and has served the Boy Scouts of America Katahdin Area Council’s outdoor classroom since 1921. The camp, which has 16 campsites, is named in honor of U.S. President and conservationist Theodore Roosevelt. For information, visit katahdinareabsa.org.
Personal note: I tagged along with the hiking club of William S. Cohen School (grades 6-8) in Bangor to hike Woodchuck Hill on Oct. 17, 2012. After school, we piled onto a bus and traveled about 30 minutes to Camp Roosevelt and the trailhead. The sun was shining, but it had been raining for the previous three days, so the trail was fairly soggy. It was the club’s fifth and final hike of the fall. It was also the most challenging of all the trails they had hiked that year. We had a wonderful time. A few children opted to stay at Snowshoe Pond instead of climbing ladders up the steep section of the hill. The cliffs were a bit intimidating, but they offered beautiful views. We went slow and no one was hurt, though quite a few of us slipped from time to time on the pine needles and wet rock. The young hikers were especially impressed with the cave at the bottom of the hill.