Tumbledown Mountain (3,068 ft) in Weld, Maine, is a beloved hike to many Mainers, due to its accessibility and the unique nature of Tumbledown Pond near the summit (we learned that this pond is a geological feature called a “tarn”). Normally, taking a break to swim or fly fish at the top of a mountain is just a daydream. Of course, we hiked this on April 29, 2017, so neither of these warm weather activities was available.
We ascended via the Loop Trail, crossed the Tumbledown Ridge Trail, and descended on the Brook Trail, making a loop with Byron Road that was about 5.6 miles. Normally, this would be a moderate to difficult hike, but trail conditions pushed the meter toward strenuous. Trail maps and info are available via the Tumbledown Conservation Alliance and our go-to guide, the AMC Maine Mountain Guide, which has a detailed trail map inside.
The Loop Trail ascends through a lovely pine forest, then a steady uphill climb past some truly massive boulders. At the time of year we went, the beginning of the trail was very boggy. We started to see signs of winter’s staying power as we gained elevation, with large slabs of ice under rocks, and snow in shaded areas. The snow became deeper as we moved up, and the trail was difficult to follow.
We crossed and re-crossed a torrent of ice and water as we climbed, until we couldn’t find a way around it, and puzzled over the trail for a few minutes. Thankfully, daughter located the small opening in the boulders we needed to climb through, complete with iron rungs to hold on to. Daughter made it through with her pack, but dad had to remove his, as it was a tight fit through a frozen waterfall. The Maine Mountain Guide notes that this part of the trail makes it unsuitable for dogs, and we would definitely agree. The Brook Trail is an alternative ascent for those with canine companions. It was a short scramble from there to the west peak (see featured photo at top of this post), with breathtaking views of the surrounding area.
The Tumbledown Ridge trail, a pleasant downhill ridge hike with more views of the valley, brought us to Tumbledown Pond, which was frozen. We enjoyed a meal and a break next to the tarn, making sure to take care of our feet, given the wet conditions on the way up.
Ok, so it was more of a yard sale.
We descended down the Brook Trail to Byron Road, walking back west to the Loop trailhead. Humans and animals use the same trails, and there was a surprisingly high amount (read: tonnage) of moose droppings on the Brook Trail, but we did not see any moose on the way down. We agreed that we would have to come back to Tumbledown in the summer, as this was one of our favorite hikes.
Oh, and one bonus feature…
We saw this billboard on the way through Canton, Maine, and could not resist taking a picture.