At first, it seemed like it wasn’t the ideal day to climb Ragged Mountain (1,303 ft) in Rockport. The bank of fog covering the Midcoast in the early summer morning obscured any views. But hiking in a cloud has its advantages – on a day eventually headed above 90 degrees, a chill mist over the George’s Highland Path (GHP) operated like an air conditioner, keeping us cool on the trail.
We started and finished our moderately difficult hike from the Thorndike Brook trailhead at Hope Street in Rockport, using ME-17 to complete the return loop, about 6.5 miles in just under 3 hours. If we had it to do over (which we probably will – it’s a great hike), we agreed that a shorter out/back (about 4.8 mi) using the GHP would be better, as ME-17 is a fairly busy road. There are two other trailheads, at ME-17 and Barnestown Road, and it is good to keep all three in mind, due to summer crowding.
The Georges River Land Trust maintains the GHP, and has a great trail map here. The Coastal Mountains Land Trust has adjoining preservation responsibilities on Ragged Mountain, and is building the Around the Mountain trail system, which was under construction when we passed through on our descent.
Viewpoints along the GHP are prominently marked on the Ragged Mountain map, and the vista from each appeared to be outstanding, based upon a creative interpolation of elevation and dead reckoning. The cloud covering the mountain, however, only showed us the edges of a ghostly abyss.
As we climbed the trail, we heard the familiar chatter of red squirrels, and the call of jays and the hermit thrush. The higher, more open ledges were crowded with full, ripe blueberry bushes, and we frequently stopped to enjoy the cool, dewy treats. Other than to pick berries, we didn’t linger on the summit or its ledges, as the views were the same there through the fog as they were on the forest floor. There is a radio tower near the summit reached by the red diamond trail.
The descent to ME-17 was steep, but manageable, and we wound our way down to the trailhead, which appeared crowded with out-of-state license plates. A flat but noisy walk on the opposite shoulder of ME-17 took us back to Hope Street and the Thondike Brook trailhead. The invigorating hike and beautiful forest were enough for this trip, but we will return for views on a clear day.