Difficulty: Easy-moderate. The hike is short, about 1 mile to the top and back, but the ascent becomes steep in some areas. There is also a rocky section with tricky footing. To snowshoe this trail, you would need snowshoes meant for hiking steep inclines. Usually these snowshoes will have a rotating toe and a tread of metal spikes to grip snow and ice.
How to get there: From the Sullivan side of the Hancock-Sullivan Bridge, drive 2.5 miles and park at a small rest area on the right. Carefully cross Route 1 to an abandoned section of road (old Route 1), which is partially paved and eroding. Follow the old road to the right. Not far along, you will notice yellow Frenchman Bay Conservancy (FBC) boundary markers leading into the woods on your left. Do not follow these. Continue on the old road. Soon after, you will see blue FBC diamond trail markers leading to your left, along with orange signs with arrows pointing into the woods. Follow the orange and blue markers. This is the 0.5-mile trail that will lead you to the top of Tucker Mountain.
Information: Tucker Mountain, 397 feet above sea level, is located on a 121-acre public easement established by the FBC near the coast in Sullivan. Nearby is Long Cove, which leads into Sullivan Harbor. North of the mountain is an eagle nesting site and wetlands. The easement allows for public access to the hiking trails, as well as maintenance and expansion of the existing residence and limited commercial harvesting. Respect the landowners by staying on the trail.
The trail, marked by orange and blue signs, leaves the old Route 1 and travels a short distance through hardwood forest before climbing steeply through a more mature forest of mostly evergreens and moss. When the trail gets windy, arrow signs keep hikers headed in the right direction. After about 0.5 mile, the trail leads to an open area with a stunning view of Frenchman Bay and the mountains of nearby Mount Desert Island. Underfoot is bare rock, a perfect surface for a picnic.
The trail continues a short distance to the top of the mountain, which is marked to the left of the trail with a small pile of rocks and a U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey marker, a metal circle embedded in the rock. Just beyond that is a picnic table set on a flat rock surface. While there is no view from this table, it’s a comfortable place to stop for lunch.
Though an old road continues past this point, hikers are asked not to continue past this point. The landowners’ camp is not far, and while the landowners welcome people to use the FBC trail, they wish for privacy around their camp.
Pets are permitted, and access to the trail is free. For information, call the FBC at 422-2328 or visit the FBC website at www.frenchmanbay.org. The website includes descriptions of the Tucker Mountain trail and many other trails in the region.
The Frenchman Bay Conservancy – a private, nonprofit land trust – was founded in 1987 by a group of local residents who were concerned about the development threat to Donnell Pond in Sullivan. The purpose of the founders was to protect clean water, open space and wildlife in the watershed of Frenchman Bay through land protection and public education programs. The conservancy acquired its first property, 55 acres of woodland and sand beach on Little Tunk Pond, by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust (which received it from a conservation donor) in 1988. Now in its second decade of operation, the FBC has protected more than 5,500 acres through conservation easements or FBC-owned preserves.
Personal note: This hike exceeded my expectations for being on such a tiny mountain. The steep climb did require some effort. The view was beautiful near the top. And while the hike is short, the different natural features in the forest slowed me down so that it seemed a bit longer.