An information station along the Ring Trail — Photo courtesy of Mark Pechenik
As a major landmark in the Southern Maine-New Hampshire Seacoast region, Mt. Agamenticus means different things to different people. For this reason, a trip to Mt. Agamenticus makes for a great one day trip itinerary for visitors and locals alike.
Before describing Mt. Agamenticus, or “Mt. A” as it is known to locals, please note that websites for this mountain only tell part of the story. Most of these sites do a great job describing the fun trails that lead to the summit of the mountain. However, they neglect to reveal the vast network of trails in and near the base of the mountain, most of which are situated within the Mt. Agamenticus Conservation Area, that add an even greater dimension to this destination.
View from the summit of Mt. Agamenticus — Photo courtesy of Mt. Agamenticus Conservation Group
The most direct route to Mt. Agamenticus is by way of Mountain Road in York, Maine. The road is easily accessible from U.S. Route 1. Mountain Road winds its way through several small neighborhoods and farms for approximately four miles. Then, quite abruptly, you come to the entrance of Mt. Agamenticus on your left.
For families with young children, Mount Agamenticus offers two popular options. First, it is possible to simply drive up the Summit Road to mountain’s peak. Here you can enjoy the views offered by the mountain’s 691 foot elevation (quite small compared to most New England mountains but nearly the tallest summit in the seacoast). On clear days, it is possible to see the Atlantic Ocean and commanding peaks of New Hampshire’s White Mountains to the north. Picnic tables are available and there is a snack bar (open during the summer season) for treats.
To make your trip into a day of fun, the Ring Trail offers many interesting options. Several smaller routes off this trail with creative names like Vultures View, Blueberry Bluff, and Sweet Fern (most are less than 2 miles in length) provide scenic overlook views, contact with blueberry bushes and other native greenery, and the opportunity to scramble up craggy, rocky paths. Along the way, families can enjoy 15 information stations that tell the story of Mt. A’s ecology – from vernal pools to efforts at eliminating non-native tree and flower species.
Mountain biking the Cedar Trail — Photo courtesy of Mark Pechenik
For those seeking a more extensive hiking or even mountain biking experience, be sure to check out the extensive trail network within the Mt. A conservation area. Trails such as the Cedar, Goosefoot, Porcupine, Notch and Great Marsh are quite long (most average 2 to 3 miles in length) – good news for hikers who want to ramble in the woods for awhile. These trails pass along pristine, unspoiled marsh, thick growth forest, and rushing brooks and streams for a true backwoods sojourn.
Also, most of these trails feature a minimum of exposed rocks and roots – excellent terrain for beginning to intermediate mountain bikers. For a more hearty outdoor experience, it is possible to take the Norman Mill Trail from nearby South Berwick (located on Bennett Lot Road) to the Cedar Trail or Notch Trail – these routes each average seven miles one-way. One note of caution: the Porcupine Trail is generally not suitable for mountain biking due to its significant elevation gain and boulders that crowd this path. However, Porcupine is a favorite with snowshoers in winter. Meanwhile, the conservation area trails (Cedar, Goosefoot, etc.) are very popular with Nordic skiers in winter.
Detailed trail maps – of both Mt. A and the adjoining conservation area – are available at the Summit Road parking area on Mountain Road. For hikers and mountain bikers, there are also trail maps at the start of the Cedar Trail off of Mountain Road (continue about two miles past the Summit Road entrance and look for a parking area on your right).