Difficulty: Moderate. The trails leading to the outlooks atop Baker Hill are less than 0.5 mile long, but they are steep in some areas. Keep an eye on the ground for exposed tree roots and rocks.
How to get there: From the Sullivan side of the Hancock-Sullivan Bridge, drive 3.4 miles north (farther into Sullivan) on Route 1 and turn left on the Punkinville Road (just before Sumner High School). Drive 0.2 miles to the parking lot, which will be on the left.
Information: In the coastal town of Sullivan, Baker Hill rises just a few hundred feet above sea level, yet from its granite ledges, hikers can see all the way to the ocean and mountains of Mount Desert Island. The hill is covered with a mature forest, filled with a variety of trees (including maple, birch, cedar, pine, oak) and carpeted with moss, ferns and lichen. Also, large boulders are scattered throughout the forest. These erratics were deposited by a glacier thousands of years ago.
Thanks to the Frenchman Bay Conservancy, the public can access Baker Hill year round by a network of footpaths, which are maintained by the nationally accredited land trust. Frenchman Bay Conservancy preserves land in Hancock County, focusing on Frenchman Bay and Union River watersheds.
The Baker Hill Easement mandates public access to the trails and prohibits development and commercial timber harvesting.
The trails on Baker Hill form two small loops which connect to the trail network of Long Ledges Preserve, which abuts the easement in the north. Each loop hike leads to the granite ledges atop the hill and has a total distance (up and down) of less than 1 mile.
The trails, marked with blue blazes, are criss-crossed with exposed tree roots and travel up steep slopes as well as more level terrain. One neat aspect of the trail network is all trail intersections are marked with a number so you can easily find your location on the map.
From the granite ledges atop Baker Hill, you can look to the southwest and see the glittering ocean and the mountains of Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. And to the north, you get a view of Schoodic, Caribou and Black mountains, three other great hiking locations in the region.
If you’ve exhausted all of the trails in the easement and would like to explore the nearby Long Ledges Preserve, simply hike to the north end of the easement to the 0.15-mile Boundary Trail. At one end of the Boundary Trail is the Small Cave Trail, and at the other end is Baker Hill Trail. Both lead into Long Ledges Preserve.
Dogs are permitted on the trails, but must be kept under control and cleaned up after.
For information about the Frenchman Bay Conservancy and the trails they maintain, visit frenchmanbay.org, where you can download a trail map for Baker Hill and Long Ledges Preserve, as well as a brochure on short hikes in the region.
Personal note: Sometimes its the small, overlooked hiking locations can be the most enjoyable. Such was the case with Baker Hill, which is barely a bump in the landscape, yet it provides stunning views of a beautiful area of Maine.
I’d suggest these trails to anyone looking for a short but rewarding hike. The small trail network is the perfect spot for younger hikers to learn how to navigate over roots and up short, steep slopes. And at the top is a great reward.
While exploring the small easement (with my boyfriend, Derek, his mother, Geneva, and my dog, Oreo) on Oct. 25, one of the things that stood out to me about the land was the amount of moss and lichen covering the ground, boulders and old trees.
Another memorable part of the hike was running into two garter snakes, which slithered off the trail but didn’t go far, enabling me to take several photos. As we continued on our hike, my hiking buddies mentioned how odd it was to find two snakes in one spot, which jogged my memory, shaking a bit of snake knowledge free. In the winter, garter snakes hibernate in dens, typically under rocks, and these dens can hold hundreds of snakes. In my attempt to impress my hiking buddies, I think I creeped them out instead.