Although the weekend before Thanksgiving stayed grey, the rain from the night before was gone and the temperatures were mild. By this time one year ago (in November of 2014) we had already had one significant snow storm, so with the calmer start to this season we decided to head for the hills for a leisurely hike. Looking for something local, we made our way towards Spruce Mountain in Rockport.
For this hike, we headed towards the Ragged Mountain parking area on Route 17 and crossed the road to reach the Spruce Mountain trailhead. At the trailhead we found distance markers indicating that the Spruce Mountain summit was a little over ½ mile but one could continue on to the Mount Pleasant Summit 2.3 miles from Route 17. I suppose the aggressive hiker could begin their hike at the Mount Pleasant Road trailhead, bag these two summits and continue across Route 17 up Ragged Mountain. Since we had not done that much in the line of walking/hiking in recent history, we opted for the ½ mile hike up Spruce Mountain.
The trail itself was blanketed predominately with oak and beech leaves, a nice cushion over the rocks beneath. And that was the problem! With the rains from the night before, the stones were still very wet and slippery and hidden underneath the leaf cover. There were a few times when one of us skidded along the path, attempting to keep our balance. Aside from this one hazard, the path rose gently towards the summit.
According to the information from the Land Trust site, the Spruce Mountain trail provides great views in about 20 minutes. But of course, we had to stop along the way to admire an interesting fungus, the intersection of two stone walls, bushes devoid of leaves but filled with bright, red berries, and a small berry peeking through the leaf cover. Even with these distractions we soon reached the final leg of our journey up the summit.
The trail seemed to end at the rock wall in front of us. Looking upwards we found the next trail marker and realized we had to scramble up to the summit. I was able to find places to plant my poles, while I found flat areas for my next steps. I wasn’t really concerned with the climb up since there were enough areas for me to find sure-footing but I did wonder how I was going to get back down.
After a few minutes, we found ourselves on a granite ledge. Here the Oak and Beech trees, gave way to White Birches, the stark white trunks sharply contrasted against the grey surroundings. The description from the Land Trust about great views for a 20 to 30 minute walk was correct. In one direction we could see the Penobscot Bay in the distance, the tower on Ragged Mountain across the way, and a large pond in the opposite direction from the Bay.
We admired these views for a time before heading back towards the ledge. Using the sit and slide method, I was soon able to maneuver back to the trail below. The descent, as usual, seemed to be quicker than the climb and we were soon back at the trailhead. At least we had spent a great 1 ½ hours outdoors.