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Living In Portland

Day Trip: Tumbledown Mountain


Spending the summer in Portland is pretty great, with our parks, hiking trails, and beaches within city limits or a short bike ride away.

But another wonderful thing about living here is our proximity to a lot of other great places in northern New England. From downtown Portland, you can drive (or ride a bus) for two hours to be in downtown Boston (to the south), in the White Mountain National Forest (to the west), in the northern Maine woods (to the north, natch), or in one of the quaint coastal communities of Penobscot Bay (downeast, as we say).

In this first of an occasional series here about day trips available within this convenient 2-hour radius of downtown Portland, I'm going to tell you about Tumbledown Mountain, one of the state's best day hikes.

Tumbledown is located on the edge of the north woods, a vast uninhabited area that stretches from central Maine to the Canadian border. In spite of this, you shouldn't go there expecting a wilderness experience: the mountain's trails attract dozens of hikers on a typical day, due to the fine views available from the bald ledges near its summit.

Also near the summit is the striking Tumbledown Pond, a glacial tarn nearly 3,000 feet high that's surrounded on three sides by the mountain's higher summits.

The mountain itself is on state-owned land. But below, the views of the surrounding terrain shows signs of Maine's legendary working forest, with patches of forestry operations in various stages of regrowth. On a ridge to the south, the graceful turbines of the new Record Hill wind farm spin in the near-constant mountain breezes. Purists may gripe about these signs of civilization, but to me, they're proud examples of Maine's close relationship to, and reliance on, our homegrown natural resources.

A network of several trails offers varied ways up Tumbledown and nearby Jackson Mountain, plus the opportunity to make loop hikes. You can visit Maine Trail Finder website (an excellent hiking resource in general) for detailed trail information. Here are the driving directions to the trailhead.

You can also make a weekend out of it by camping out at the nearby Mount Blue State Park, which is also a good place to take an after-hike dip at the beach on Webb Lake.

Photo: Jess and Peter being photogenic near the summit of Tumbledown Mountain. Photo by the author.


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