We first visited Camden Hills State Park in the spring of 2017, an unintentional winter hike of the Megunticook Loop. Better prepared, equipped, and with a full windy, cold March day to burn, I chose a longer, meandering route through the park. This ambitious path up Mount Battie (780 feet), over to the Maiden Cliff (800 feet), and up to the summit of Mount Megunticook (1385 feet) was close to 11 miles, and a little under five hours. You can find detailed descriptions of the trails in the AMC Maine Mountain Guide. As I arrived before the road to Mount Battie opened, I used the parking lot to the left of the main entrance, paid the $4 Maine resident fee, and walked the quarter mile or so from the gate to the parking lot for the trails (toilets are available in both places).
The blue-blazed trail Megunticook Trail headed up to the left, turning into the Nature Trail towards Mount Battie to begin the loop. I started to gain elevation at approximately a half-mile in, with views of the West Penobscot Bay through the bare winter trees. The Nature Trail parallels the road to Mount Battie before turning inland over ice-covered rocks. At a little over a mile, I turned left onto the Tablelands Trail, crossing the road towards Mount Battie. Near the summit, I saw a solo mourning dove and another small, puffy sparrow. The parking loop and area by the World War I memorial stone tower feature expansive views of the bay and Camden below.
Midcoast hiking means dramatic ocean views. We first explored Camden Hills State Park in April 2017, when we started our 100 Mile Wilderness Training with a relatively short (5.4 mi) and moderate 3 hour hike- the Megunticook Loop at Camden Hills State Park, via the Mt. Megunticook (10 on map), Ridge (3 on map), Slope (9 on map), and Multi-Use (11 on map) Trails. The idea for this hike (and many others) came from the indispensable 10th edition of the Maine Mountain Guide , which we have dog-eared and highlighted, as it is an incredible wealth of knowledge (Amazon link is to the new and improved 11th edition, and you can read about all the updates here). Parking is easy, and a small fee is charged for entrance.
It was a good opportunity to test out some of our new equipment, in unexpectedly snowy conditions – the bulk of the hike was done through deep, crusty snow and sheets of ice.
In addition, we had our cousin, an experienced hiker, with us, as well as our wife/mom, a um, not-so-experienced hiker (her meal for the trail was a Ziploc bag of peapods, which she accidentally stepped on in the parking lot).
This loop had some great views along the way, particularly from Ocean Lookout, but not much to see at the top. It was a fairly easy climb, but we would recommend doing it in the late spring, summer, or fall. The trails were well-maintained and this loop had a gravel path for parts of the way. With an elevation of 1385 feet, it was a steady climb for most of the way up.
We also got to try out our JetBoil stove- a freeze-dried meal of Chili Mac at the top required heating. Due to dad’s disdain for instruction manuals, the stove spewed gas noisily for several minutes before we figured it out (dad’s fault, not the stove, which we found to be excellent).
A brief cautionary tale- we have probably undersold the difficulty of hiking in the snow present on Megunticook. Wife/mom had issues with wet shoes/socks, and our mountaintop dining was cut short by a speedy descent. Dad/daughter agreed that the extra time heating/mixing made the Chili Mac better.