I’ve had this hike on my list for some time now. Every time Laura and I drive through the Belgrade Lakes region of Maine, we get excited and want to spend more time there. It’s such a cute little area and it appears to offer a lot in the way of outdoor activities. The last time we drove through, I claimed that I was going to research something to do in the area for this fall. I’m happy to report that I did, in fact, look some things up and I discovered that the lakes region is host to many a hike. There are low-lying trail hikes as well as hikes to mountain tops. The hike we enjoyed this past Saturday was to a mountain top – French’s Mountain Trail in Rome. And let me tell you – it was awesome.
It’s a loop hike at just under one mile. To be exact, they say it’s .8 miles long, which is just about perfect for me. I tend to get bored quickly and if a trail drags on for too long, I get antsy. I like them short and sweet and beautiful. This one was perfect. And since it was bright and sunny on Saturday and since the temperature was a perfect 55 degrees, it would be shameful to stay inside. Shameful indeed.
Let’s take a look at some photos. For this first one, I took the liberty of showing off my new beard. And my shaggy long hair. If you think both of those things look good, that’s great but I must reveal that both of them have been trimmed so I look much more groomed now. I try, but I just don’t think I’m a beard guy.
The nice thing about this hike is that there’s good parking. There only used to be an on-road-pull off, which wasn’t ideal. I guess someone got the idea of building a parking lot, which is great.
There’s also a nice information station that offered a trail map of the entire area. There are lots of trails to hike in the Kennebec Highlands.
This is the beginning of the hike, straight out of the parking lot.
The trail climbs a small mountain that offers stunning views of Great Pond and Long Pond in the Belgrade Lakes region. The hike is a loop and take it from me, it’s best to walk the loop clockwise. If you follow this advice, you’ll experience the views as they come, instead of the best one all at once and suddenly. The gradient up is also less severe this way and it’s overall a better hike.
As we hiked up the hill, we found lots of acorns.
We actually filled our pockets with these things to bring home to feed the squirrels. Perhaps if they have something to eat, they’ll stay out of our bird feeders.
We also saw very cool Hemlock trees.
And wide parts of the trail.
I even tried my hand at taking a sunburst photograph. I increased my camera’s aperture to F/13 for this one. Remember, to get a sunburst, your aperture has got to be higher than F/11.
As we walked, I got the brilliant idea that I would take some short video clips that would help me remember the experience. I think I’m going to start doing this and I’ll mix the videos in with the photographs. Of course, I’ll have to work on getting better video, but this is a start. These are simply some leaves rustling in the wind. I hope these clips help the post come more alive. If you’re reading this via email and don’t see any videos, you’ll need to click the post link above to read from the website itself.
This is the trail toward the top of the mountain. The lookout area is just ahead.
Just as we made it almost to the top of the mountain, we began seeing things. First is Whittier Pond down below and then is a view more southerly toward Long Pond.
Basically, once the incline has leveled out, the views of the lakes begin. There are all sorts of things to see, but the views are what really matters. I did, however, stop to smell the roses every so often. Here’s one shot of some pretty grass and ferns.
And here’s a photo of some nice oak leaves on top of the mountain.
Finally, here are some photos of the view of Long Pond from French’s Mountain. I dressed these up in Photoshop a bit. I also did my HDR merging trick to add some extra flavor to them, as if they needed any extra flavor. The photos do look good though. I’m happy with them.
I took about a hundred photos of the top of the mountain, so I’ll spare you all that. Those two above are the best ones. After we were finished marveling at the view, we continued walking to close the loop. While the incline up the mountain was fairly gentle, the decline wasn’t nearly as much. It was pretty steep and the trail traversed through a beautiful hemlock forest. It’s not too steep to walk, but it was slippery at times due to all the leaves and pine needles. Here are a few photos and my last video from the way down.
And that sums it up. I would totally do this hike again, especially in the fall. It was so nice up there. I actually expected to see more of a crowd, but there were only a few folks around. Generally couples and their dogs.
Okay, until next time. Thanks for reading!
Directions to French’s Mountain Trail in Rome, Maine
I’ll give these directions from the intersection of Route 2 and Route 27 in New Sharon, Maine. If you’re coming from Farmington, drive through New Sharon for .8 miles until you reach the new Dollar General on the right. Route 27 is the road to the right directly before the store.
- Travel south on Route 27 for 5.71 miles until you reach Watson Pond Road on the right.
- Make the right and then travel south .68 miles until you see the French’s Mountain Trail sign on the left, along with a parking lot. Make the left into the parking lot to park.
These are the directions if you’re coming from the south. I’ll start off at Day’s Country Store in Belgrade Lakes.
- Travel north for 4.2 miles until you see Watson Pond Road on your left.
- Make the left and then travel south .68 miles until you see the French’s Mountain Trail sign on the left, along with a parking lot. Make the left into the parking lot to park.