Difficulty: Moderate. The hike to the summit of Cameron Mountain, out-and-back, is 5 miles, and most of the hike is on smooth, wide multi-use trails that slope uphill gradually. The mountain reaches 811 feet above sea level, and the steepest section of trail is the final 0.1-mile side trail that leads to the summit. You can lengthen the hike to about 7 miles round trip using Sky Blue Trail to form a loop.
How to get there: From the intersection of Route 1 and Route 173 in the town of Lincolnville, take Route 173 and drive 1.3 miles to an intersection. Continue straight on Route 173 (Beach Road) and drive another 0.9 mile, then turn left onto Youngtown Road. Drive just 200 feet, then turn left into the parking lot for the north entrance of Camden Hills State Park. A multi-use trail leaves this parking area. Start your hike on the multi-use trail, which you will follow for approximately 1.25 miles to Cameron Mountain Trail, which will be on your right.
Information: One of the smallest peaks in the scenic Camden Hills, Cameron Mountain reaches just 811 feet above sea level. However, the top of this mountain is covered with blueberry barrens, and this low-lying vegetation allows hikers to enjoy an unobstructed 360-degree view of the region from the mountain’s summit.
From the north parking lot of Camden Hills State Park in Lincolnville, the hike to the summit of Cameron Mountain starts on the wide, smooth multi-use Ski Lodge Trail, which is the only trail that leaves from the parking lot. At the trailhead is a kiosk displaying a trail map and park guidelines, and just beyond that is a sign with mileages to the many trails that spur off the Ski Lodge Trail.
Following the Ski Lodge Trail, you’ll hike south, traveling gradually uphill for 1.25 mile to Cameron Mountain Trail, which will be on your right and marked with a sign.
Along the way, you’ll pass by Frohock Mountain Trail on your left; this trail climbs over Derry Mountain (777 feet above sea level) and continues to the wooded summit of Frohock Mountain (454 feet above sea level) in 2.2 miles. Also, Bald Rock Mountain Trail is almost directly across the multi-use trail from Cameron Mountain Trail. This trail leads steeply to the bare summit of Bald Rock Mountain in 0.5 mile.
Marked with blue blazes, Cameron Mountain Trail is also a multi-use trail, though not quite as wide as the Ski Lodge Trail. From its intersection with the Ski Lodge Trail, the trail dips down then heads gradually uphill, striking west to Cameron Mountain. Highlights of this trail include many beautiful old rock walls, a stand of tall white pine trees and a small bubbling brook.
About 1 mile from the Ski Lodge Trail, Cameron Mountain Trail comes to a side trail on the right that leads steeply through blueberry barrens to the open summit of Cameron Mountain. There is no sign marking the summit, but the top of the cone-shaped mountain is obvious. From that vantage point, hikers are rewarded with a panoramic view that includes the nearby chain of Bald Rock, Derry and Frohock mountains to the east, a piece of Megunticook Lake and Norton Pond to the west, and Mount Megunticook to the south.
The trail ends at the summit of Cameron Mountain. From there, hikers can retrace their steps for a 5-mile out-and-back hike, or they can continue west on Cameron Mountain Trail, heading downhill. Soon the trail takes a sharp turn and heads south. In about 1 mile, the trail will come to Sky Blue Trail on the left. Take Sky Blue Trail, which is hilly and heads northeast to meet the Ski Lodge Trail in 1.7 mile. From there, turn left on Ski Lodge Trail and hike 1.5 mile back to the parking lot for a lollipop shaped route that totals about 7 miles.
The day use areas of Camden Hills State Park are open 9 a.m. to sunset year round, and visitors are required to pay a fee upon entry to the park. Admission varies depending on age and residency. Maine residents ages 12-64 are $4, non-residents ages 12-64 are $6, Maine residents 65 and older are free, children ages 5-11 are $1, and children younger than 5 years old are free.
Dogs are permitted on these trails if kept on a leash no longer than 4 feet at all times. Other park regulations are posted at the trailhead.
For more information, call the park at 236-3109 or visit maine.gov/camdenhills, where a trail maps are available to print.
Personal note: My breath lifted in a cloud as I studied the trail map on the kiosk and fastened the flaps of my fur-lined hat under my chin. The temperature was around 20 degrees, but I was warm enough in layers of clothes, including thick wool socks and my favorite bright red snow pants. My husband, Derek, also wore his fur-lined bomber hat, and he carried heat packets in his backpack, just in case our fingers started to freeze.
It was a sunny day, but being so close to Winter Solstice — the shortest day of the year — the sun was already ducking behind the trees at mid-day, casting long shadows across the wide multi-use trail. Packed snow crunched under our boots as we walked quickly uphill, our bodies gradually warming up as we neared the Cameron Mountain Trail in Camden Hills State Park.
Hearing the telltale drumming sound of a woodpecker, I paused and listened until I located the bird — a female hairy woodpecker — drilling its sharp beak into the trunk of a dead tree beside the trail. Derek helped me unearth my heavy 100-400mm camera lens from my backpack so I could snap a few photos before continuing on at a fast pace.
As we neared Cameron Mountain Trail, a man approached us heading the opposite direction on a fat-tire bike, which is a mountain bike with special, wide tires that allow for better floatation on snow and other soft surfaces, such as sand. He stopped and told us a bit about Cameron Mountain. It would be windy and cold up there in the open at the summit, he warned us, but there was a nice view.
It turned out that he was right. At the rocky top of Cameron Mountain, the frigid wind took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. We stood there for a couple minutes to take in the view, then headed back down, pausing to eat a snack beside the trail at the edge of the blueberry fields, where the wind couldn’t reach us and we could enjoy the afternoon sunlight.