After hiking Bald Rock Mountain twice within three days, I decided to go for something a little easier and suggested the Carriage Trail, another trail within the Camden Hills State Park. The Carriage Trail is located on Route 52 about 1.5 miles from Route 1. The description I read somewhere (on an old map I had obtained years ago at the Chamber of Commerce) describes the trail as easy to moderate with great views at the top. If I had read this a little more closely, I would have recalled that the “easy to moderate” hike was towards Mount Battie, and not towards Ocean Overlook.
We parked our car on the shoulder of Route 52 near the trail head and began our hike on a nice, easy, fairly flat trail. Unlike the Multi-Use Trail for Bald Rock Mountain, the incline was so gradual we couldn’t tell we were ascending the hill. We crossed several bridges; some over streams, some just logs laid down to protect the hiker from tramping through a few very muddy sections.
Once we crossed the bridges we had a choice of continuing on the Carriage Trail or taking the Carriage Road Trail towards Mount Battie and this was probably our first mistake. The trail began to curve around and began a slightly steeper ascent, noticeably following the lines of the mountain. The terrain of the trail changed from smooth ground to a trail strewn with rocks. Still, the climb was not too bad at this point and it was worth a stop to admire the wooded scenery.
After a short time, the Carriage Trail intersected with the Tablelands Trail and that is where things began to get interesting. Now, I figured, since I was ten months out from my hip replacement and we had successfully maneuvered Bald Rock Mountain I would be up to this “easy” hike. It is ironic that I chose this hike because I thought there were some rough patches on the Maiden Cliff Trail that I would not be able to climb. So I was not expecting to find a point on the trail where the trail marker pointed straight up.
Somehow, I did make it up this portion of the trail but I was wondering how I was going to get down. I am not ashamed to say, that on the descent there were some sections that I used the “butt approach” to get down some of the more difficult sections that would have broken all hip precautions. One of my hiking experts has assured me that this is a perfectly legitimate approach to coming down a mountain. Once we climbed this rather rough patch, we cleared the woods and emerged on the “tablelands”, an area covered with flat, smooth boulders.
We continued across the Tablelands, accomplished a few more steep climbs and finally found ourselves on Ocean Lookout. My hiking partner continued up to the Megunticook Summit while I admired the view. From where I sat I could look down on both Camden Harbor and Mount Battie.
After resting a bit we made our descent. As mentioned above, I am standing by my expert consultant’s opinion of a legitimate approach to making a descent. It had taken us about 2 hours to make the ascent and 1.5 hours to come back down.