For a full day of outdoor fun and extraordinary views along the coast of southern Maine, a trip to Mount Agamenticus should be on your travel list. Boasting a height of almost 700 feet above sea level, this ‘mountain’ offers a close-up exploration of its flora and fauna. Its distant panoramas stretch from the Atlantic Ocean to Plymouth Rock.
About Mount Agamenticus
This 692-foot tall hill that pops out of the flat lands of southern Maine (also known as a monadnock) was a landmark for sailors along the northeast coast. It was known initially as Snadoun Hill in the early 1600s. In fact, Captain John Smith of Jamestown fame charted the Gulf of Maine and referred to the hill in his drawings.
In 1682, thousands of Native Americans gathered at the top of the hill to commemorate and bury the famed Indian Chief, St. Aspinquid. So the mountain had significance to local tribes and was known to them as Sassanows.
Until the 1900s, the locals harvested the forests around Mount Agamenticus. But, by the 1940s, the peak was the location of the United States’ first radar tower. That was due to its proximity to the ocean and height.
In 1966, a small ski lodge opened up on the mountain’s north side, but “Big A” only lasted nine years due to the warm maritime breezes that came in off the ocean. Today those ski runs have become popular hiking and horse trails. The old ski lodge is now the Learning Lodge, a combination museum/learning center.
Where Is Mount Agamenticus?
Located in southern Maine near the town of York, Mount Agamenticus overlooks the towns of South Berwick, Wells, Ogunquit, and Eliot. The summit of this mountain is a 30,000-acre preserve and park for local wildlife, including the two-footed kind. This recreation area contains hiking, biking, equestrian trails, outdoor nature programs, and a Learning Lodge.
The Mount Agamenticus region also hosts the largest coastal forest between Acadia National Park and the New Jersey Pine Barrens in the south. The conservation area around “Mount A,” as the locals call it, also encompasses threatened wetlands. It has many protected species of animals and plants.
How Long of a Hike Is Mount Agamenticus?
A hike up Mount Agamenticus will take about 25 minutes, with a round trip on this loop trail is double that. The distance for the slightly moderate hike is 1.7 miles, with a nice park and expansive views at the top.
There are also several spurs off the main summit trail for further exploration. But if walking is not your first choice, there’s a road that will also take you to the summit.
Can You Drive up Mount Agamenticus?
The road up Mount A is a beautiful trip through deciduous trees and shrubs and pine trees on a paved street. There are only two hairpin curves on the trek, and the payoff for this trip is an outstanding view from Maine to Boston!
The road is open April through September from 6:00 a.m. to sunset and from October through March from 7:00 a.m. to sunset. There are no fees.
If you would rather experience Mount Agamenticus by foot, there are 17 different hiking trails, some of which are open to bicyclists and equestrians. This trail map will help you navigate.
Can You See the Ocean from the Top?
Mount A has historically been a landmark for sailors because of its height. So looking from the mountain, it is easy to view the surrounding regions. You see the Atlantic Ocean from Mount Agamenticus.
And, on a clear day, you might spy Mount Washington in New Hampshire, all the way to Boston, Mass. In fact, it’s not unusual to see the Isle of Shoals 10 miles off the coast and Casco Bay to the north.
Traveler’s Tip: Have you ever wondered if you can see Russia from Alaska?
Are Dogs Allowed on the Mountain?
Dogs are welcome on the trails up and around Mount Agamenticus, as long as they are leashed. However, they’re not allowed inside the Learning Lodge or restroom facilities at the summit unless they are licensed service animals.
What to Do at Mount Agamenticus
The mountain is a perfect location for many outdoor activities or as the final destination on a leisurely afternoon drive. Here’s a sampling of what you can do when visiting Mount A.
Hit the Trails
There are 17 hiking trails ranging from 1.7 to 8 miles long that wind up and around the mountain. Some are for hiking only, while others allow mountain biking and horseback riding.
There are even a few trails set aside for ATVs. You can bring leashed dogs on the hiking trails.
Visit the Learning Lodge
Take some time to explore the Learning Lodge at Mount Agamenticus. This space has exhibits, displays, and dioramas of the unique plants and animals of the region, along with environmental information. Guided walks, demonstrations, and educational instruction are all available here.
Do the StoryWalk
The Ring Trail on Mount A has 24 stations utilized for StoryWalks. Sections of children’s books are posted along the trail to encourage reading at an early age. There are new books every quarter, offering new stories for young hikers.
Attend the Nature Journal Club
Meeting the third Thursday of the month, July through October, the Nature Journal Club encourages the collection of nature through art. An opening workshop is available.
Walk the Mount a Tree ID Loop
A hiking trail with 15 stations where students can identify different species of trees is part of the trail system at Mount Agamenticus. You can find an identification chart and worksheet associated with the ID loop at the Learning Lodge or download it.
Is Mount Agamenticus Worth Visiting?
In a region that’s seeing tremendous growth, it’s encouraging to find a place like Mount Agamenticus, where conservation and educational efforts protect and preserve nature in its purest form. Mount A gives visitors a chance to explore forests and wetlands and their resident plants and animals.
Additionally, you’ll be able to enjoy outdoor activities that appeal to the whole family. The mountain’s amazing views are just icing on the cake of a day well spent in southern Maine.
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