Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mt. Pisgah Community Conservation Area


The Mount Pisgah Community Conservation Area is a 94-acre conservation property owned by the town of Winthrop and part of the Kennebec Land Trust's 700-acre Mt. Pisgah Conservation Area. The Trail ascends the west slope of Mt. Pisgah, through a lovely and peaceful mixed hardwood forest, to the fire tower at the top of the mountain, and loops back to the parking lot via the old fire tower road.

Getting There
From Augusta, take Route 202 (Western Ave.) west toward Monmouth. Where Route 132 intersects 202, heading south toward Monmouth Village, turn left onto Blaisdell Rd. At the stop sign, turn right onto Wilson Pond Road (the road name is not marked at this intersection). At the stop sign, turn left onto Pisgah Road. In about 1.7 miles, a small parking area on your right marks the start of the trail.

The Trail
Distance: 2 miles (loop)
Time: 1-2 hours
Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult

From the parking lot, head up the fire road to where a large gate blocks the road. Just left of the gate, a sign reads “Mt. Pisgah Trail,” and a box mounted on a post holds a sign-in sheet and maps. Follow this trail, a narrow, somewhat rocky dirt track through a mixed hardwood forest. As you climb the gently-sloping trail, you move into an area of very big old hardwoods, and, farther along, the tree community includes many golden yellow birches, with very few coniferous trees. The understory is fairly open, dotted with many large boulders and the canopy is filled with bird song in the spring. Along the trail numerous The trail crosses through many wet, boggy areas with the aid of stepping stones and bog bridges. A large pile of split logs about halfway up the trail indicate that more bog bridge will be added soon. Nearing the top of the mountain, the trail enters a grove of old pine trees and levels off somewhat. In the pines, the trail crosses another dirt track; continue straight ahead and up a rocky incline to the top of the mountain. Here a 60 foot fire tower offers views of the surrounding hills and peaks. At the foot of the tower, a grassy patch provides the perfect spot for a picnic.

Take the same rocky trail back downhill a few hundred yards to where the trail you ascended curves to the right. Take a left fork here, near a gray post with no sign, to head down to the parking lot via the old fire road; a quicker and more direct, if somewhat less picturesque route than the one you ascended.

Kid-Friendly Factor
The Mt. Pisgah trail is a challenging hike for small ones. Having a destination (a mountain top!) and the more direct descent trail helps. I told my four-year-olds the fire tower wasn't open, to avoid a heart-racing climb up the open stairs. However, a much older child would enjoy the adventure of climbing the tower and checking out the views. The trail is definitely not stroller friendly, but isn't too long of a climb for toting the littlest passengers in a backpack or sling.

Getting Involved
The town of Winthrop and the Kennebec Land Trust jointly manage and maintain the Mt. Pisgah Community Conservation Area. Visit to join the Kennebec Land Trust or learn about volunteer opportunities.

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