Mountain Hikes

Burnt Meadow & Stone Mtn | 1624 ft | ME

Burnt Meadow Mountain Trail

Burnt Meadow Mtn North Peak 1575 ft & Stone Mtn 1624 ft

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Among my hiking friends, Burnt Meadow is often referred to as the tune up hike. It has a little bit of everything: woods walking, water crossings, steep rock scrambles, ledges, ridges, switchbacks, and fantastic views. If you take the spur trail to Stone Mountain, the whole trip is just over 5.5 miles and 1660 feet in elevation gain. With its lower elevation, southern exposure, and significant deciduous forests, the snow melts earlier than in the Whites and offers a great place to get your legs into spring hiking shape. It’s also just an hour from Portland, making it the closest ‘big mountain’ to the ‘big city.’

Burnt Meadow is located in Brownfield, Maine, and it has an interesting natural history. In 1947, The Great Fires burned 85% of the town. Sawmills were a major employer there, and the loss of many square miles of forest was devastating for the local economy. Two decades after the fire, Brownfield was still one of Maine’s most economically depressed towns. In an effort to replace lost commerce, the town opened a small ski resort on Burnt Mountain. It opened in 1971 with one T-bar and closed in 1982. According to Wikipedia, there are old T-bars hanging on the mountain, but I’m still looking for them. Another interesting (and exciting) fact: The Burnt Meadow Sno Club and Granite Backcountry Alliance are working together to open some of the trails again!

But… I wasn’t there to ski. Burnt Meadow and Pleasant Mountain have become my go-to weekly hiking spots when I don’t feel like driving all the way to the big BIG mountains in New Hampshire or northwestern Maine. The Burnt Meadow Mountain Trail starts at a dirt (mud, currently) parking lot on Rt 160. In the winter, this lot isn’t always plowed, but if you continue north on Rt 160, there is a plowed lot on the right for a Burnt Meadow Pond (public beach access for swimming in warmer months) and you can easily walk from there (easily but carefully, as there isn’t a shoulder).

The trail travels up the southern side of the east ridge for about a half mile, then drops slightly where the Twin Brook Trail branches off to the left. My advice is to stay on the blue-blazed Burnt Meadow Trail that heads right, otherwise you’ll be descending a very steep scramble versus climbing up it. From here, the trail climbs more steeply and the forest becomes more open. You can see clear delineations where the fire stopped; at one point the forest to your right is thick evergreen and to the left it is thin beech.

Near the top of the north peak, there is a sharp drop to the left (keep an eye on dogs and little kids) and two sections of rock scrambling. These are very manageable scrambles and good practice for more aggressive rock climbs on bigger mountains. If you don’t like heights or scrambles, be aware that there isn’t an easy way to get around this section. If you really want to avoid it, you would have to skip Burnt Meadow Trail and take Twin Brook Trail to the summit and back down. There are exposed ledges on both trails, so avoiding rocks altogether is impossible.

Once you get up the scramble, the summit of North Peak is flat, gravelly, and grassy, with fantastic views of the Saco River valley, western Maine mountains, and the White Mountains. Cross the summit and pick up the yellow-blazed Twin Brook Trail to make a loop back to the trailhead or to take the spur to Stone Mountain. Twin Brook Trail descends into the col between Burnt and Stone mountains, traveling over a steep, ledgy section on the west side of Burnt Meadow Mtn. This is a sunny spot with lovely views, a great place to take a break if the summit is busy.

The Stone Mountain Trail takes you south, ascending the north shoulder of Stone Mountain. This shady side of the woods was still snowy when I went in mid-March (all the other snow was gone). I didn’t wear spikes, but other hikers did. Switchbacks lead through more thin beech forests for .7 miles before reaching a short section of ledge and then the summit. If you continue to the terminus of the trail (side trails lead right and left) there are nice views at the ends of both.

After backtracking to the intersection of Twin Brook Trail and turning east, the trail follows a picturesque ravine stream with fast-moving water and lots of small cascades and pools. Looking up at the south side of Burnt Meadow Mountain from the wooded trail, there is a talus field of good sized rocks, but none have to be climbed on this relatively easy section of trail. It’s just over a mile back to the Burnt Meadow Trail and another half mile to the parking.

Women hiking in the woods at Burnt Meadow Mountain, Maine

On this sunny Saturday in March, we saw multiple groups of people and lots of dogs (mostly off-leash). I’ve also gone mid-week and seen no one else. It’s a great hike for kids because of the variety of terrain (rocks to climb and water to splash in), and there’s fairly reliable cell service. Some of the blazes on the trees are faded and it’s easy to lose the trail when the forest thins out, so keep an eye out for the path.

In the summer months, a stop at Burnt Meadow Pond for a swim and a picnic makes for a full day of adventure! And if you don’t want to pack a lunch, visit the resident fluffy Coon cat at The Back Burner restaurant on Main Street in Brownfield.

Burnt Meadow Mtn Trails

Total elevation: 1575 ft & 1624 ftElevation gain: 1660 ft
Mileage: 5.7 milesAlpine exposure: none
Terrain: woods walk, rock scramble, steady incline Challenges: steep scramble, open summit
View payoff: outstandingDogs: Yes, on leash

Recap: Burnt Meadow Mountain is a great hike and the closest big(ish) mountain to Portland (one hour drive). This loop and spur to Stone Mountain offers a bit of everything — woods walking, gradual ascent and descents, ledges, steep scrambles, and switchbacks. Skip the Stone Mountain Trail for a 4.3 mile trip. There are wonderful views at the summit and on the way down.

Remember to be safe!

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