Hiking Wadleigh Mountain ~ Moosehead Lake Region
Mt Kineo, Moosehead Lake
Hiking Wadleigh Mountain
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The 1,863 foot summit of Wadleigh Mountain lies near Nahmakanta Lake, one of the most beautiful areas of the Moosehead Lake Region. Lying entirely on Maine Public Lands, it is also close to the 100 Mile Wilderness stretch of the Appalachian Trail. From the fire tower at its peak there are breathtaking views in every direction.

Getting there: From Greenville, drive through Kokadjo and once the tarred road ends bear left at the fork. Continue for 2 miles and turn right at the Medawisla sign. From here drive east 5 miles, then turn left at the signs for NLC (Nahmakanta Lake Camps) and Maine Public Lands. Turn left at 7.1 miles at the fork, then at 7.8 miles there is a "T" and many signs, turn left. 0.6 miles later you can glimpse Penobscot Pond on the right and 1.5 miles the road becomes wider and better as you enter Maine Public Lands, where there is a large sign and a visitors box. Continue on that road for another 1.6 miles where there is another fork, turn left. At about 2.6 miles turn left, the trail begins here. There is no parking area, though you can drive for about 0.5 mile until you come to a beaver bog and park off the road.

The Trail: From the beaver bog, which you can traverse, the road continues uphill at an easy grade, then becoming gradually steeper. It becomes quite obvious that the road doesn't see much use as chest-high cedar trees grow in the center. As the road levels out again, you can see some ledges on the southern side of Wadleigh Mountain. After a mile the road ends in a clearing and to the left the trail enters a forest of oak and maple and is marked with orange flagging tape.

As it rises slowly uphill you can see ledges through the woods to your left. Soon the trail becomes steep, rising through the ledge and mixed softwoods, then resumes a easy grade as it winds through the forested cap to the fire tower. The fire tower - in which lies a guest book to sign - is safe to ascend and enter (though a sign at the bottom of the trail announces that it has been closed). There are superb views all around: Farrar Mountain in the west, Potaywadio Ridge in the east and Jo-Mary Mountain in the southeast, in the south is White Cap and Big Shanty Mountain and in the northeast is the breathtaking sight of Katahdin, O-J-I, and Doubletop Mountains. There are countless lakes all around also: Chesuncook and Caribou Lake in the Northwest, Namakanta Lake in the East behind Nesuntabunt Mountain (over which crosses the Appalachian Trail) and in the North, at the foot of Wadleigh Mountian, is Wadleigh Pond, south of which is First and Second Musquash Pond. There are many campsites in this area.

A downside to this is the condition of Wadleigh's hiking trail: it has virtually vanished. The 48 foot fire tower was deactivated in 1947, so the trail has had little use since then and has been totally overrun by the forest. The orange flagging tape seems to have been placed throughout the trail as a means of finding one's way to and from the fire tower, and on the crest of Wadleigh Mountain I lost sight of the flagging tape several times. A good idea would be to bring a compass and a map (Waldeigh Mountain Quadrangle, 7.5 minute series).

One interesting note is the fire tower itself. In the middle of the steel frame of the present fire tower, erected in 1927, is what appears to be a bunch of old boards and a few dead trees, but its actually an archaic fire tower. In the early 1900's, tall trees were used as fire towers in the lower elevations, then progressed into wooden structures by the 1920's. A relic from the early days of forest fire protection, this dilapidated structure was once the first line of defense against forest fires, and each day from the platform the fire watchman would sweep his binoculars across the countryside, relentlessly searching for the rising sable signals of the forests' oldest foe.

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