Burnt Meadow Mountain
GOOD FOR: Ages 5-8, Ages 9-12

Source:Outdoors with Kids Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont (AMC Books)
Address:ME 160/Spring Road, Brownfield
Hours:Sunrise to sunset
Fee: Free

Friends of Burnt Meadow Mountains, friendsofburntmeadowmountains.com

Bathrooms: None
Water/Snacks: None

Gain elevation and stunning views quickly on this relatively strenuous trail, great for kids who aren’t afraid to climb!

Watch your feet over loose rocks on the final pitch toward the summit of Burnt Meadow Mountain.

If your kids are bored with introductory hikes and up for a little adventure, including a rocky scramble near the summit, head to Burnt Meadow Mountain. The mountain’s name comes from its tragic history. In October 1947, small, localized fires from Mount Desert Island to Waterboro morphed into one statewide disaster, burning more than 200,000 acres over a short period becoming known collectively as “the week that Maine burned.” Here, a great forest fire incinerated an estimated 85 percent of the town of Brownfield and the surrounding area, including this mountain. Today it’s hard to see evidence of the fire (or the ski area that had a short-lived run here in the 1970s), as nature has taken back its own.

What you do see in the sweeping views from the summit is majestic forest that seems to go on and on, broken only by myriad ponds and distant mountains, including those of the Presidential Range. The North Peak summit is broad and grassy, offering plenty of room to spread out and relax. During the late summer, blueberries and red mountain cranberries dot the landscape. Autumn is an excellent time to visit as well: the summit views of fall foliage are out of this world.

From the parking area, North Peak Trail (Burnt Meadow Trail) begins on the right and takes the shortest and most rewarding—albeit steepest—trek to the summit. The blue-blazed trail is well marked as soon as you enter into the forest. Expansive views southeast greet you before you’ve hiked even 0.25 mile. The trail meanders up through the woodlands, occasionally bringing you to exposed ledges where you can catch glimpses of nearby mountains, including Pleasant Mountain (Trip 19) to the north and the two other peaks of Burnt Meadow Mountain to the southwest. The first 0.5 mile is the best terrain for younger hikers, as the pitch gets steeper after that; parents should be prepared to carry preschoolers.

At 0.7 mile, the trail opens onto an exposed ledge with an excellent view. Look for Burnt Meadow Pond below and the North Peak summit above. If the scramble that awaits you above seems too daunting for your party, this could be an excellent place to stop, have a picnic lunch, and turn around for home. However, if kids are feeling strong and ambitious, continue onward and upward. Just past 1.1 miles, the scramble begins in earnest; watch your feet over loose rocks and make sure your handholds are steady. Kids of any age will need help—and perhaps a hand now and then—as they make their way up the final pitches toward the summit.

Once at North Peak, take a moment to congratulate everyone for making it up 1,200 vertical feet in just 1.3 miles—that’s no easy feat! You will all take pride in the accomplishment, particularly when you’re treated with majestic 360-degree views.

To descend, retrace your steps down the mountain via North Peak Trail. If that seems too treacherous, opt for longer, more gradual Twin Brook Trail, which you’ll see marked with yellow blazes. This 2.0-mile trail follows the main brook and ravine before eventually meeting back up with North Peak Trail near the trailhead.

Plan B:

The White Mountain National Forest offers a plethora of swimming holes, hikes, and beaches, many of which are a half-hour drive from Burnt Meadow Mountain (see Trip 35 and Trip 36). For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/whitemountain.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Head to the quintessential New England village of North Conway, New Hampshire, 20 miles to the west, where historic buildings, bookstores, bakeries, and big-name outlet stores all coexist. North Conway is the gateway to the White Mountain National Forest and also home to Mount Washington Valley Children’s Museum.



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