Peary Mountain (958 ft) in Brownfield, Maine, is named for Arctic explorer Admiral Robert E. Peary, Sr., a resident of neighboring Fryeburg from 1878 to 1879. The trailhead for this easy to moderate hike is located in Brownfield, Maine, off Route 113. The Maine Mountain Guide has a full description of this hike – I used the AllTrails app to follow the path. Follow Farnsworth Road about 1.3 miles from Route 113 to a small dirt/grass parking area on the right side of the road, just before a one-lane bridge over the Little Saco River. In the summer, this can also be reached from the west (Fryeburg) side, but the road can be closed in winter months.
The signpost and trail through the woods at the parking area appear inviting, but these are for snowmobile trails (thanks, AllTrails), so cross Farnsworth Road and take a left into the woods just before the river (sign for Certified Family Forest). The quiet trail heads steadily uphill, turning from a woods road/snowmobile trail to a single track path (follow signs for summit) as it passes logging areas, and reaches the ledges facing the White Mountains. A well-placed stone slab bench surveys the panoramic view.
This is not, however, the summit (thanks again, AllTrails). Continue down the path, which winds east to the summit and a viewpoint facing Pleasant Mountain, distinctive for its mass (and its two cell towers). The whole out-and-back hike is about 2.7 miles total, and can be completed in about an hour or so, longer with smaller kids. We saw a couple small groups with kids and dogs on this hike, who did not seem to have a problem with the difficulty level. Blackberry bushes lined the open areas, and plenty of birds were out and about.
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Burnt Meadow Mountain in Brownfield, Maine, is a favorite hike of ours in all seasons, including when daughter was much younger. Brownfield is less than an hour from Portland, and during mid-late summer, the wild blueberries all the way to the summit make for a pleasant distraction and motivator for younger children. In winter, the moderate climb through vanished foliage yields great views of the White Mountains.
Our preferred route is via the Burnt Meadow Mountain Trail (blue blazes) and Twin Brook Trail (yellow blazes), an approximately 3.6 mile loop, which took us about 2.5 hours at a relaxed pace in summer, and 2 hrs, 10 mins in winter. The spur trail up to Stone Mountain (blue blazes) from the Twin Brook Trail adds about another 1.4 miles round-trip, which was about an hour added to the loop hike in the winter time. These trails are well-marked and maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) and the Friends of Burnt Meadow Mountain.
As usual, the best description of this hike is in the AMC Maine Mountain Guide. And in the new 11th edition of this guide, Burnt Meadow gets its own map. In winter, the parking lot is small and icy, and hikers may have to find a parking spot at the town boat launch down Route 160. For updated winter trail conditions, check the Burnt Meadow Mountain Trail page on All Trails. On winter days, the snow on the trail is usually packed, and micro-spikes help with some of the resulting ice on rocks. The only deeper snow lies on the lesser-used Stone Mountain trail.
The Burnt Meadow Trail passes through shaded woods and over exposed rock faces up a short, steep climb to the North Peak (1,575 ft). On clear days, you will see hawks wheeling below, and the green, serrated sharks’ teeth rows of the surrounding hills and ridges. In winter, the climb has the effect of being a pleasantly continuous ridge hike without the leaves to obscure views.
While the blueberries weren’t ready in June, we saw vultures, crows, many lady slippers in peak color, and also ran across a few toads. We used plenty of bug spray, but didn’t hit large clouds of black flies or mosquitoes, except in low-lying areas along the Twin Brook Trail (obviously, no bugs in the wintertime).
The broad, open summit of Burnt Meadow is a great place for a picnic. We didn’t linger too long in summer, though, just enjoyed some jerky and proceeded across to the Twin Brook Trail. A large cairn marked the point to start our descent. The Twin Brook Trail was a rolling course back to its junction with the Burnt Meadow Mountain Trail, and from there back to the parking lot. Along the way in June 2021, I saw two red-shouldered hawks patrolling the area recently harvested for lumber, looking for small mammals. These open cuts allow for the growth of fragrant sweet fern, and blossoms promised blackberries later in the season. Shortly before returning to the trail junction, I spooked a herd of small deer, who disappeared into the thick forest.
The Stone Mountain Trail is better in winter, as the surrounding area from the summit is easier to see without the leaves. This trail is substantially less traveled than the North Peak or Twin Brook Trails, and may require some travel through deeper snow, with snowshoes being possibly necessary.
One of the reasons we love this hike in the summertime is its proximity to the Brownfield Town Beach, which is a great place to cool off (Note: While dogs are plentiful on Burnt Meadow Mountain trails, they are not allowed at the beach after June 1st).