1-minute hike: Eagle Rock in Big Moose Township

Difficulty: Moderate-strenuous. The 3-mile hike (1.5 miles from trailhead to summit) switchbacks up the slope of Big Moose Mountain. The trail becomes very steep in some areas, and in one particularly steep section, hikers are assisted by a wooden ladder and rope.

How to get there: From the blinking traffic light at the center of Greenville, drive north on Route 15/Route 6 for 8.5 miles. Turn onto Burnham Pond Road, which is gravel and full of potholes. Drive 3.6 miles and you will reach a road juncture. Turn left and you will come to a fork, keep left. Reset your mileage and drive 1.2 miles to the trailhead, which is on the left. Park to the side of the road, leaving enough room for logging trucks to easily pass. There is a rough turn-around that is good to park in just past the trailhead on the right.

Eagle Rock Trailhead on June 9, 2013 in Big Moose Township

As of June 9, 2013, the trailhead was marked with a small, white, handmade sign, set back into the woods. The sign could been seen from the road, but it was easy to miss. A piece of pink flagging tape was tied to a tree by the sign.

It is important to note that during that time, the gravel road leading to the trailhead is rough and full of potholes. Runoff has exposed several culverts, resulting in small ditches that would likely be impassable for vehicles with low ground clearance. Unless the road is improved, anyone attempting to find this trailhead should have four-wheel drive and high ground clearance.

Information: Eagle Rock is a large, bald outcropping atop Big Moose Mountain, at the northwest end of the ridgeline. The slanted surface of the rock, approximately 2,350 feet above sea level, would not be enjoyable to those afraid of heights, but from the top are spectacular views of the mountainous region.

The 1.5-mile trail leading the Eagle Rock strikes east from a logging road at the base of the mountain range. Marked with blue blazes and the occasional pink or orange flagging, the trail weaves through mixed forest. Though narrow and sometimes obstructed by blowdowns, the trail is well-marked and easy to follow.

The first section of the trail travels along fairly even terrain and leads to a brook, where it turns left and follows the bank. The blazes seem to disappear for a short distance, though flagging is tied to some trees and the path is well worn beside the brook. After a short distance, the brook appears to split. Cross the brook and veer right. Look closely and you will see blue blazes on the trees that you will continue to follow for the rest of the way.

The ladder and rope on Eagle Rock Trail on June 9, 2013.

From this point, the trail becomes increasingly steep and starts to switchback up the mountain. Don’t let blowdowns crossing the trail confuse you. Always look for the next blue blaze. Sometimes the trail heads straight up the slope, making for steep sections. And near the top is a ladder and rope to help with a steep section of trail (though my dog, Oreo, clambered up the trail to the right of the ladder easily enough). The last section of the trail winds through mossy forest where evergreen trees are more common. Keep your eye out for some beautiful white birch trees.

The trail is on land owned by Plum Creek, which began doing business in Maine in 1998 and now sustainably manages approximately 878,000 acres of land in the state. Currently the trail is open to the public, though visitors need to be on the watch for logging trucks and give them right of way. Along the same vein, park as far off the road as possible so that logging trucks can get by.

Personal note: I almost had to write a “hike fail” for this week’s “1-minute hike.” Derek and I drove by the trailhead to Eagle Rock at least three times on June 9 before spotting the small white sign tucked into the woods. Grass and low-lying plants had covered up any evidence of a trail from the road. Nevertheless, once we stepped into the woods, the trail was easy to follow, thanks to whoever refreshed the blue blazes on the trees.

With his nose to the ground much of the time, my dog Oreo also didn’t have much trouble following the trail, or maybe he was following the scent of a moose that had recently walked almost the entire length of the trail, judging by the tracks it left in the many muddy sections — and the numerous piles of droppings scattered all the way up the mountain.

When we reached the end of this hike, Eagle Rock, both Derek and I were wowed — blown away by the view and the overall abruptness and size of the bald outcropping. I’ve hiked to the top of quite a few mountains in Maine, and this was one of the most rewarding endpoints I’ve been to so far.

I will warn you that the trail is a challenge to get to; the bumpy road might throw your tires out of alignment (or pop them altogether) and you just might drive past the sign like me. Then, when you get there, there’s nowhere to park, so you have to park to the side of the road and hope that first, you don’t get stick in the underbrush and mud, and second, your side mirror doesn’t get clipped by a lumber truck. And because the trail isn’t regularly maintained, Derek and I had to navigate around at least four large blowdowns. In summary, Eagle Rock Trail is a challenge, but if you reach Eagle Rock, it’s worth it.

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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.