On April 8, 2017, we started our 100 Mile Wilderness Training with a relatively short (5.4 mi) and moderate 3 hour hike- the Megunticook Loop at Camden Hills State Park, via the Mt. Megunticook (10 on map), Ridge (3 on map), Slope (9 on map), and Multi-Use (11 on map) Trails. The idea for this hike (and many others) came from the indispensable 10th edition of the Maine Mountain Guide , which we have dog-eared and highlighted, as it is an incredible wealth of knowledge. Parking is easy, and a small fee is charged for entrance.
It was a good opportunity to test out some of our new equipment, in unexpectedly snowy conditions – the bulk of the hike was done through deep, crusty snow and sheets of ice.
In addition, we had our cousin, an experienced hiker, with us, as well as our wife/mom, a um, not-so-experienced hiker (her meal for the trail was a Ziploc bag of peapods, which she accidentally stepped on in the parking lot).
This loop had some great views along the way, particularly from Ocean Lookout, but not much to see at the top. It was a fairly easy climb, but we would recommend doing it in the late spring, summer, or fall. The trails were well-maintained and this loop had a gravel path for parts of the way. With an elevation of 1385 feet, it was a steady climb for most of the way up.
This was the first time we tried our packs. For dad, an Osprey Xenith 75L pack, with an Osprey UltraLight Raincover, XL. For daughter, an Osprey Ace 50 Night Youth 50L pack (it has a built-in raincover). We equipped each with an Osprey Hydraulics 3L reservoir, for hydration. Obviously, we didn’t need a hydration bladder of that size for this hike, but they are so well made, we chose to just fill them with less water.
We also got to try out our JetBoil stove- a freeze-dried meal of Chili Mac at the top required heating. Due to dad’s disdain for instruction manuals, the stove spewed gas noisily for several minutes before we figured it out (dad’s fault, not the stove, which we found to be excellent).
A brief cautionary tale- we have probably undersold the difficulty of hiking in the snow present on Megunticook. Wife/mom had issues with wet shoes/socks, and our mountaintop dining was cut short by a speedy descent. Dad/daughter agreed that the extra time heating/mixing made the Chili Mac better.
Either way, cheap food and good beer at Marshall Wharf Brewing Company made for a great after-hike stop on the Belfast waterfront.