(Note: as of March 26, 2020, there are limitations on visiting Mount Agamenticus due to COVID-19, and you can get updates here.)
Mount Agamenticus, overlooking the southern Maine coast, apparently derives its name from an Algonquin coastal place name also used in Gloucester and Charlestown, Massachusetts. It’s not a giant, only 691 feet tall, but is part of the Mount Agamenticus Conservation Region, which covers over 10,000 acres, including over 40 miles of trails, with a trail map here. Its location in York makes it readily accessible from the Maine Turnpike and Route One. I had never climbed Mount Agamenticus, and figured that a looping walk over rolling hills would be a perfect spring tune-up hike.
These trails allow for a variety of hikes by length and ability. On this spring day, I traversed the First, Second, and Third Hills, using the Ring, Fisher, Big A, Sweet Fern, Chestnut Oak, Ridge, Wheel, Third Hill, and Great Marsh Trails, along with Old Mountain Road, Porcupine, Rocky Road, and, again, Ring Trails to complete a loop of around 7 miles. Much shorter loops are available (the complete Ring Trail loop is only 1.9 miles), and the Ring (west) and Witch Hazel Trails contain a “Story Walk” that might keep younger hikers moving from storyboard to storyboard, up the hill.
It’s not a long hike from the Mountain Road trailhead to the top of First Hill via the Ring (west) and Fisher Trails – I covered it in fifteen to twenty minutes at a moderate pace. For those with mobility issues, there are also parking lots closer to the top. The open summit has observation decks to orient you to the sights in all directions, from the Atlantic to Mount Washington, and a Learning Lodge is open weekends from 11 am to 3 pm from Memorial Day to Columbus Day.
There are picnic tables with views of the ocean, and restroom facilities. Songbirds abound, and I spotted an American Goldfinch near the old ski lift structures. Descending toward Second Hill, the trail still held some ice in shaded places, the only sign of winter’s clutches. The low points around Second and Third Hills were dotted with vernal pools, which were already riotous with the sounds of peepers.
While First Hill is well-trafficked, with trail runners and dog walkers, the only other human being I saw on Second and Third Hills was a mountain biker. The trails here are not as well-marked as those on First Hill, and I had to double back several times to find the trail, particularly on the Ridge Trail, and Third Hill Trail. In addition, the summits are wooded, with less spectacular views than that of First Hill. But the hiking is not strenuous, and the scenery contains peaceful brooks and ample wildlife viewing opportunities. I saw turkeys, deer, and innumerable songbirds, as well as sizable ant mounds on the way down Third Hill.
Mount Agamenticus is an easily accessible, family-friendly trail network which allows the user to build his/her own itinerary based on activity, ability, and time, and provides boundless opportunities for observing fauna and flora.