1-minute hike: The Mountain, Rome, Maine

Difficulty: Easy-moderate. Glacial boulder fields and twisting roots can make footing tricky in some area. The trail network (not including the new trail being constructed) is about 1.5 miles long and includes some moderate changes in elevation. 

How to get there: The Mountain Trail is accessible from Mountain Drive in Rome. At the intersection of Route 27 and Route 225 in Rome, drive 2.1 south on Route 27. Take a left onto Mountain Drive. Drive 0.3 mile to the trailhead parking area on the left side of the road.

Information:In 1998, the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance (BRCA), along with the Belgrade Lakes Association, acquired this 207-acre parcel on The Mountain. And in 2011, they added another 41 acres north of the original parcel for new trails to be constructed. “The Mountain” is actually just a hill, its top reaching 665 feet above sea level.

The Mountain Trail system consists of a main trail and shorter loop trails, one off each side of the main trail. The main trail, an old logging road, is a multi-use trail, where snowmobiles, horses and bikes are allowed. The narrower loops — Great Pond Loop and Long Pond Loop — are for walkers and runners only. The Great Pond Loop will bring hikers through glacial boulders to a small clearing, the highest point of The Mountain at 665 feet. Two simple rock seats have been constructed in the clearing. The Long Pond Loop leads to a cliff and stunning views of Long Pond and the Kennebec Highlands.

The trails are free for use year-round, from sunup to sundown. Camping is not permitted. A box for donations is located not far from the trailhead. Pets are permitted.

Starting at the trailhead, strike north on the main trail. After about 0.4 mile, you will reach the Great Pond Loop (about 0.4 mile long) on the right. If you stay on the main trail for an additional 0.1 mile, you will reach the Long Pond Loop on the left (also about 0.4 mile long). Both loop trails return to the main trail at about 0.8 mile from the trailhead. The main trail used to end there, but now it continues on to the new land purchased in 2011. Additional trails were being constructed on this parcel as of September 2012.

“It’s a work in progress,” said Charlie Baeder, Executive Director of BRCA. “We’re looking to build it up over time, and we’re hoping to link it up to the other trails we have in the area and other properties we have in the area.”

These properties include French Mountain, Mount Phillip, Round Top and Sanders Hill.

BRCA, founded in 1988 as a grassroots group, has grown into a land trust and lake trust with more than 1200 members dedicated to conserving the lands, water quality and natural heritage of the Belgrade Lakes Watershed. The land trust has conserved nearly 9,000 acres through fee purchase or conservation easements.

For information, call BRCA at 495-6039 or send an e-mail to brca@gwi.net or visit www.belgradelakes.org.

Personal note:If you don’t have the time to hike both loops, I suggest hiking the Long Pond Loop for the views of Long Pond. You will also hike by some really neat rock slabs on that trail.

Photo by Aislinn Sarnacki. A view of Long Pond from the Long Pond Loop of The Mountain trail network in Rome, Maine, on Sept. 20, 2012.

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.