An easy hike and a formidable climb up a very tall fire tower.
Here's a hike for a range of abilities and anyone wanting to challenge their fear of heights on a 60-foot fire tower. Located in Winthrop, the Mount Pisgah Conservation Area Trails total 4.4 miles in network. The elevation gain is only 541 feet, but the fire tower offers 360 degree views, including Mt. Washington and Camden Hills on a good day.
Now let's talk about Winthrop. If you're wondering where this town is, it's right next to Wayne. Wayne, Maine. You'll be repeating that for the next few minutes...it's so satisfying to say. But where exactly is Wayne, Maine?
It's in the heart of the lakes region between Lewiston and Augusta. We ended up doing a hike in Winthrop, near Wayne, because we were spending a few days on Maranacook Lake in Readfield, which is a close neighbor. I probably wouldn't drive to this hike from Portland, but if you find yourself in this area, I'd definitely check it out - for the fire tower, and this gnarly tree we found on the Tower Trail.
The tower trail leads to the fire tower, then it connects with the Ledges Trail for a longer loop or the Blueberry Trail for a shorter loop. We chose the latter and our loop was a total of 2.4 miles.
Finn, Henry and I challenged ourselves to the tower climb...and my legs were jello the entire way up. Tim opted out, keeping his feet solidly on the ground. He may have missed out on the adventure, but had plenty of entertainment as he watched me crawl my way to the top, death grasp on the railing. Fire towers mostly terrify me, but I like to face that fear when I have the chance. If you share my fear of heights, trust me, the view from 60 feet up makes it all worthwhile.
All Trails rates this network as easy and Maine Trail Finder as moderate. I would have to side with All Trails on this one, although I can't rate the Ledges Trail since we never made it there.
These trails are managed by the Town of Winthrop and the Kennebec Land Trust. There is some interesting history on the KLT website: https://www.tklt.org/pisgah
Here are some highlights:
- The fire tower was in use from 1949 to 1991.
- In Hebrew, "Pisgah" means lookout place or place with a view.
- Nearby Wilson Pond and Androscoggin Lake were important pre-historic passageways for Abenakis crossing between the Androscoggin and Kennebec Rivers.
- Mt. Airy Farm, once located on Mt. Pisgah, was the historic farmstead owned by the father of Maine agriculture, Dr.Ezekiel Holmes. He brought innovative farming practices to Maine in the mid 1800s and is best known for his role in securing the Maine College of Agriculture. You will walk past plenty of old stone walls during your hike here, along with old sugar maples.
If you do this hike, try the Ledges Trail and let me know if there's any kind of view from up there. We would have taken the time to check it out, but the lake was calling.
Here's the All Trails link for the full loop:
And here's the proof that I braved the 60-foot tower - and I'm alive to tell the story. Remember this when you're halfway up and want to turn back. If I can do it, so can you!