Difficulty: Easy-moderate. The gradual ascent to the summit is well-marked. The hike is just more than 2 miles roundtrip.
How to get there: From the junction of ME 9 and ME 180 in Clifton, travel east on ME 9 for 8.9 miles to a snowplow turnout on the right. A roadsign will notify you of the snowplow turnout. Just ahead on the left is a blue-and-white Maine Bureau of Public Lands sign that reads “Amherst.” Turn left (north) off ME 9 at the sign and follow the road, which turns to gravel. At 3 miles, bear left. And at 4.8 miles, turn left at a junction. Reach the trailhead and parking on the right at about 6 miles.
Information: Bald Bluff Mountain, which rises 1,011 feet above sea level, is located in the Amherst Mountains Community Forest in Amherst. The preserve — nearly 5,000 acres of forest and wetlands, as well as five remote ponds — was purchased by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands in June 2009 with funding from the federal Forest Legacy Program and the Land for Maine’s Future Program. The property is managed jointly by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands and Town of Amherst. According to the tenth edition of AMC’s “Maine Mountain Guide,” the mountain’s summit offers views of the lower Penobscot River watershed. Dogs are allowed. There is no fee to enter the preserve.
The Amherst Mountains Community Forest is an important component of a conservation initiative known as the Lower Penobscot Forest Project. This initiative is a partnership between The Nature Conservancy, the Forest Society of Maine and the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands and will ultimately conserve over 42,000 acres.The Lower Penobscot Forest spans a long ridge of scenic, largely undeveloped hills stretching from the headwaters of Sunkhaze Stream in the north toward Ellsworth, Orland, and the coast to the south. To learn more, search for the project at www.nature.org.
The trail to the summit of Bald Bluff Mountain is the rocky bed of an old woods road and is about 1 mile long. The trail climbs gradually, leveling off at 0.4 mile, where there is a 0.1-mile side trail that veers to the right to several outlooks. Continuing on the main trail, the woods road narrows. At 0.9 mile, cairns will replace the blue blazes, marking the way to the flat summit, which is a large open area surrounded by woods. The summit is not marked. The trail continues into the woods and descends 100 feet to a ledge that offers views. The trail terminates here.
Personal note: I hiked this trail with Carey Kish, who added this mountain to the tenth edition of AMC’s “Maine Mountain Guide,” which he compiled and edited. It was raining and cloudy, so I didn’t get to enjoy the views near the summit of the mountain, but the beauty of Bald Bluff Mountain and the surrounding preserve was still evident to me, despite having soggy feet and being attacked by deer flies.