This easy mountain hike, actually more of a road walk to a hilltop where is a cell tower, made for a simple First Day 2021 winter stroll. Black Cat Mountain (820 ft) in Poland, Maine (not to be confused with the larger Black Cat Mountain in Baxter State Park), is accessible from North Raymond Road, where a small gated road marked with yellow cell tower signs and the number 72 has limited parking (with overflow on the road’s shoulder).
From there up the wide, well-maintained road to the summit, it’s approximately 1.5 miles, for a three mile total out-and-back trip. The route is simple and direct (don’t get distracted by the snowmobile trails, just stay on the main road), which would allow kids to range ahead. No special gear was needed, although some better traction would have helped on the icy sections of the road.
The access road/trail, lined with white birch, winds through mixed woods, and I saw woodpeckers, squirrels, chipmunks, and the tracks of deer. Not far along, a low, marshy area overflows the road, but is easily navigated. It appears that the drainage plans of humans here may have been compromised by the ingenuity of beavers.
The top of Black Cat houses a cell tower and associated non-scenic structures, but if you turn right and walk up the trail through the woods, an overlook is available, facing to the east and Range Ponds. A prominent wooden sign marks this open area as “Beer Hill,” given this designation by a snowmobile club. With the easy downhill on the way back, this hike can be completed in less than an hour without too much effort.