Although I already have a lengthy list of adventures planned around the state of Maine this summer, I’m never one to turn down a challenge, especially when hiking and prizes are involved. So when I scrolled upon the Moosehead Pinnacle Pursuit challenge during a morning Instagram browsing session, my interest was piqued (or maybe peaked?). The Moosehead Pinnacle Pursuit is a hiking challenge hosted by the Moosehead Lake Chamber of Commerce that consists of six hikes of varying difficulty around the region – Mount Kineo, Number Four Mountain, Whitecap Mountain, Eagle Rock, Big Moose Mountain, and Borestone Mountain. Challenge winners receive a patch, sticker, certificate, and their names listed on the website. Since a few of these peaks were already on my list, I decided to go ahead and tackle the rest.
My hiking partner and I planned to start with Borestone Mountain on the Friday afternoon of Independence Day Weekend and Mount Kineo that Sunday…but Maine weather is notoriously finicky, so a rainy Friday afternoon meant squeezing both hikes in on Sunday.
On Sunday, we packed up the Jeep and drove up to the Rockwood Town Dock to catch the 10 o’clock ferry over to Kineo Island, an island in the middle of Maine’s Moosehead Lake and home to Mount Kineo. Part of the island is made up of a private golf course, while the rest is state land containing trails to the summit and to campsites on the opposite side of the island.
We snagged seats at the front of the ferry – a good idea in theory to enjoy the views of the water and the island, but a windy day on the large lake meant I was soaked through after three waves splashed over the front of the pontoon boat in quick succession. Luckily, the stiff breeze, sunshine, and the fact I wasn’t wearing any cotton meant I dried off soon into the hike! After setting foot on the island, we walked .6 miles along the flat Carriage Trail along the shoreline, where we started to seriously wonder if we were going to blow away when we reached the summit.
Our next step was the 1.2 mile Indian Trail, a steep trail that skirts the ledges of the mountain, which meant we had great views of the lake as we made our way up towards the fire tower at the summit.
The fire tower has not been used since 1960, but its viewing platform provides incredible views of the surrounding mountains and the huge lake – the largest in the state – in all directions.
After braving the skinny metal staircase and wind gusts, we made our way back to the intersection of the Indian Trail and Bridle Trail for a sunny lunch overlooking the lake and the golf course. After lunch, we took the Bridle Trail back down to the Carriage Trail, a quick 1.1 miles through the woods down the back side of the island. We quickly jumped on the ferry back to the Town Dock, hopped back in the Jeep, and made the 45 minute drive to the Guilford area and the Borestone Mountain Audubon Sanctuary.
Borestone Mountain is on Maine Audubon property, meaning no dogs allowed and a small access fee in order to reach the summit. The Audubon Visitor’s Center is located on a small pond about halfway up the mountain, accessible by a .8 mile trail through the woods or a .9 mile gravel road. Since we already had one peak under our belts, we opted to walk up the road. After the visitors center, we looped around the pond for a quarter of a mile and then started a steep ascent towards the summit via the 1 mile Summit Trail, aided by hundreds of stone steps and even some iron rungs in the rocks above treeline.
We reached the West Peak first, then made our way across the ridge to the East Peak, where we were treated to views of Onowa Lake, Barren Mountain, and the southern end of Maine’s 100-mile wilderness – as well as more wind gusts!
After hunkering down along a ledge just below the peak for a much needed nap and hydration break, we made our way back to the car the way we came just as it began to rain again. Next stop: some well-deserved cheeseburgers!
All in all, we hiked about 7 miles total across two peaks and saw some incredible views of the region’s forests, mountains, and lakes. I think the Moosehead Pinnacle Pursuit is a great way to expose visitors and locals alike to a variety of trails and landscapes in the area, and I’m excited to hike the rest! Stay tuned as we pursue the rest of the Moosehead Pinnacle Pursuit.