Difficulty: Moderate. The trail was a bit overgrown in September of 2015. It climbs Pleasant Mountain gradually, reaching viewpoints on the mountain’s slope less than 1 mile into the hike.
The western trailheads is at Mt. Pleasant Farm. From Route 17 in Hope, take Harts Mill Road south for 0.25 mile and bear left onto Fogler Road. Travel for about 1.2 miles and bear left where the main road continues to the right. The parking area (which was overgrown with grass but mowed in September 2015) is 100 feet ahead on the left, just before the farm. (On Googlemaps, this road is known as Mt. Pleasant Exn. and is located at the edge of Union). A kiosk and sign marks the parking area.
There is only an informal parking area for the east trailhead, which is located on Mt. Pleasant Street. To reach this trailhead, again start at Route 17 in Hope and take Harts Mill Road south for 0.25 mile, then bear left onto Fogler Road. Drive about 0.7 mile and turn onto Mt. Pleasant Street on the left. Drive 1 mile to the vehicle pull-out area on the left shoulder of the road. Start the Georges Highland Path on the right side of the road to hike to Pleasant Mountain or the left side of the road to hike Spruce Mountain.
Information: Pleasant Mountain rises just over 1,000 feet above sea level and is one of several mountains traversed by the Georges Highland Path, a growing network of footpaths in Midcoast Maine that currently consists of about 50 miles of trails.
The Georges Highland Path is made up of several sections. Pleasant Mountain is in the section called the Ragged Mountain Area, which contains more than 10 miles of continuous trails that traverse Pleasant Mountain, Spruce Mountain, Ragged Mountain and Bald Mountain.
Most people hike Pleasant Mountain by starting at the trailhead at Mt. Pleasant Farm, which was a bit overgrown in September of 2015.
The trail begins right at the parking area to the left of the kiosk. Follow the blue blazes to the gravel road, turn left, and follow the road to the farm, which used to be an equestrian rescue facility. In this section, the trail is marked with a few posts topped with blue paint or signs that read GHP (Georges Highland Path). You’ll pass through a metal fence and cross a pasture to cross through another metal fence. You’ll then wade through grass and weeds as you follow the narrow footpath to the right and into the woods. There is a blue blaze on a tree where the trail enters the woods.
Once the trail enters the woods, it’s much easier to follow. Just be sure to follow the blue blazes on the trees. The trail follows an old woods road, then turns and becomes narrow as it plunges into a sea of ferns. The forest is made up almost entirely of deciduous trees — birch, red oak, beech and maple.
For a while, the trail follows what appears to be an old stream bed, then turns again and climbs gradually to an old blueberry field, which still produces plenty of wild blueberries. From the field, you can see over the trees to distant hills. In the fall, I imagine this would be a beautiful, colorful sight.
Cairns — small rock piles — mark the trail as it travels through the field and back into the forest. The trail then visits a clearing, which offers an even better view of the region. From there, it continues gradually uphill and through a forest to small clearing with exposed bedrock. This is the highest point the trail reaches on Pleasant Mountain, between 700 and 800 feet above sea level. From this clearing, hikers can enjoy a partial view past a tall white pine tree.
The trail does not travel all the way to the mountain’s summit, which is just over 1,000 feet above sea level.
This trail, and the rest of the Georges Highland Path, is maintained by the Georges River Land Trust, a nonprofit organization based in Rockland. The land trust’s mission is to conserve the ecosystems and traditional heritage of the Georges River watershed region, according to its official website, GRLT.org.
The Georges Highland Path is made possible by the participation of private landowners who have given permission for the public to cross their land. Visitors to this path should make an effort to stay on trail and respect the land. Dogs are permitted if on leash.
For information, visit GRLT.org or call 594-5166.
Personal note: When we found ourselves in a standoff with a cow, I knew we were in for an adventure. It was at the very beginning of the trail up Pleasant Mountain on Sept. 2, and I’d brought my mother, Joyce, along for the hike. The trail began by passing through an old farm, where two men were in the process of corralling four young cows into a trailer to move to another pasture. As we watched the men chase the cows along the fence, one rebellious cow broke through a gate and sprinted out into the adjacent pasture — the pasture we needed to pass through to get to our hiking trail. In fact, the brown and white cow decided to stand right beside the post marking the trail, stomped its foot and let out a long “moo.”
We waited, baking in the sun. The temperature had risen to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and we were eager to get into the woods. So it wasn’t long before we gave in and decided to find a way around the cow, crossing a muddy ditch and skirting an old apple tree, to reach the other side of the pasture. We then passed through another gate, waded through grass, brambles and wildflowers, located a blue blaze on a tree and followed it into the woods.
Sometimes I feel a bit guilty about the amount of “adventure” in the adventures I bring my mom on. But she’s the good sport. The best actually. She even thanked me because I was hiking first and therefore clearing the seldom-traveled trail of spider webs (of which there were many).
Other highlights of the hike were picking wild blueberries of many sizes and shades of blue; inspecting honey-colored mushrooms growing in the shade of ferns; enjoying the view and the breeze from the mountain clearings; and talking about the old rock walls we found along the way.