Difficulty: Easy-moderate. This 2-mile hike (about 1 mile from the parking area to the summit) gradually climbs to the top of Burnt Jacket Mountain, which rises just over 1,600 feet above sea level.
How to get there: Located between Beaver Cove and Sandy Bay on the east side of Moosehead Lake, Burnt Jacket Mountain is easy to find. Start at the blinking light at the center of Greenville and drive 5.5 miles north on Lily Bay Road. Turn left on Burnt Jacket Road (which is just past the Beaver Cove town line). Drive about 2.5 miles, following
signs to Burnt Jacket Mountain Trail. The parking area is in a gravel pit and marked with a sign. At the end of the gravel pit, a sign directs you to walk down an old, grassy road. In a short distance you will see Burnt Jacket Mountain Trail leading into the forest on the right, marked by a sign. The trail is marked with yellow blazes and flagging tape of various colors.
Easy mistake: While driving to the parking area on Burnt Jacket Road, you may be confused at 0.7 mile, where signs for Burnt Jacket properties direct drivers to turn right and travel down Pine Marten Road, which leads to lakeside homes. These signs can be easily mistaken for signs pointing to Burnt Jacket Mountain. In fact, just past the sign is a kiosk that provides information about the lakeside properties, as well as a small community park (only adding to the confusion). Do not turn right here. Continue straight on Burnt Jacket Mountain Road.
Information: Rising 1,680 feet above sea level, Burnt Jacket is just a small mountain compared to the nearby peaks of Big Moose, Big Spencer and Chairback mountains. Nevertheless, this mountain provides partial views of the Moosehead region, as well as an opportunity to hike through a lush forest that is home to moose, deer, bear, grouse and a variety of other animals.
A trail leading to the top of the mountain, beginning at a large parking area in a gravel pit, starts off following an old, overgrown road. A short distance down the grassy road, a footpath leads into the woods on the right, marked with a sign reading “Burnt Jacket Mountain Trail,” yellow blazes on the trees and different colors of flagging tape. A lesser known trail, you’re unlikely to come across other hikers, even at the height of tourist season.
The trail is easy to follow if you always keep flagging tape or a yellow blaze in sight. When the foliage is out, the trail can become overgrown, and in some places, muddy.
The trail leads all the way to the top of the mountain, which is partially bald and is marked with a rockpile that surrounds a jar containing a visitor booklet, which you can sign and date. From this spot, hikers can see Moosehead Lake and nearby mountains through openings in the evergreens. The trail continues past the rock pile a short distance to another outlook with partial views.
Side note: A trail marked with blue blazes intersects Burnt Jacket Mountain Trail just before the summit. I explored this trail to see where it lead. It quickly descended the mountain, and I was caught up at what appeared to be a dead end. Before that point, It looked like the trail was heading straight toward Moosehead Lake, and I may have simply overlooked a blaze.
Burnt Jacket Mountain Trail is easy to follow if you always keep flagging tape or a yellow blaze in sight. When the foliage is out, the trail can become overgrown, and in some places, muddy.
In Maine, “Burnt Jacket” is the name of two mountains, an island, a river channel and a point, according to the book “Mountains of Maine, Intriguing Stories Behind Their Names” by Steve Pinkham.
“The meanings of the names are generally lost in the past but may have come from the common experience of a trapper, logger or sportsman huddling to close to a fire and setting his coat aflame,” Pinkham wrote.
In the book, Pinkham relates a legend that a hermit once lived on the mountain, sheltered by a hogshead barrel and subsisting on fish and berries.
“It is said that he had been crossed in love and consequently would run away at the sight of any woman,” Pinkham wrote. “In his last years, when he was finally unable to care for himself, friends took him into town to care for him.”
Founded in 1975, Beaver Cove is among Maine’s smallest communities. Located six miles north of Greenville on the eastern side of Moosehead Lake, it formerly was a designer community of the Huber Lumber Corporation. Difficult economic times during the 1970s resulted in Huber still having half their lots unsold. In 1973, existing lot owners who were able to get their friends or families to purchase land in the community were rewarded with their choice of a color television or birch bark canoe, according to an account of the community’s history at beavercoveme.com.
On March 17, 1975, the community held a meeting to organize into a plantation named Beaver Cove. On Jan. 3, 1978, residents voted to make the plantation a town, and on Jan. 31, 1978, the Maine Legislature officially designated it Town of Beaver Cove.
Burnt Jacket Properties is being developed by McPherson Timberlands and its affiliate Wilderness Realty of Hermon.
“The 2,000-acre master plan for Burnt Jacket at Moosehead Lake envisions an upscale, low-density community of acreage homesites and carefully restricted architectural guidelines,” according to www.burntjacket.com.
Personal note: I hiked Burnt Jacket Mountain for the first time on June 14, 2013, during the 2013 Moose Lottery Festival, which was being held in the nearby town of Greenville. On such a windless day, I traded the crowd of people for a swarm of blackflies and mosquitoes. The combination of the bugs, humidity and leafy terrain gave me the impression I was entering a jungle. During the hike, I noticed a number of moose tracks. I also saw a number of birds, including a woodpecker near the summit, a startled grouse and a kingfisher. Because it isn’t heavily traveled, the trail seems to be a great opportunity to view wildlife.
I suggest wearing pants (which I didn’t) any time of year while walking this trail. Raspberry bushes encroach on the trail in some places, and the tall grass and underbrush is great habitat for ticks, though I didn’t find any on myself.