A few miles off Rt. 9, stands the relatively diminutive 1,479 ft. Lead Mountain (Delorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 24, A-5). An enjoyable hike, Lead Mountain provides fantastic introductory hiking possibilities for young children and adults looking to get a little exercise. My family and I have made hiking Lead Mountain an annual tradition and every summer a group consisting of young and old alike climb the mountain together.
This past summer, my brother, our 3 children — ranging in age from 4 to 6 years old — and my 63-year-old Dad climbed it. Only the 4-year-old had to be carried a couple times on the ascent and descent . . . thankfully, we didn't have to carry Dad even once!
For those interested in exploring Lead Mountain, the directions are relatively simple. Driving from Bangor toward Calais you will pass the Airline snack bar on the left and Rt. 193 shortly after on the right. Drive approximately 1 mile and turn left onto the 3000 road at the Ranger Station. If you happen to cross the bridge over the Narraguagus River, turn around. Travel up the 3000 road about 150 yards, turn left and continue to follow this dirt road till it ends at a gate and small parking area. Upon exiting the parking area, walk around the gate with the large sign that reads “No Hunting” and continue following this dirt road until it splits. Take the path to the right, which leads all the way to the summit. This trail was heavily improved, in the last few years, and provides easy walking a majority of the way to the summit.
After about one hour of hiking at a steady pace, hikers will reach several small shacks and some old weather monitoring equipment. From this point forward, the path to the top quickly increases in difficulty, so plan another 30 minutes of slow hiking before reaching the summit. There is no mistaking the summit, marked by an enormous cell tower. Unfortunately, there are no sweeping views from this location and hikers will miss out if they do not walk along the left hand side of the gated area. Follow the somewhat hidden trail by squeezing through tightly growing spruce trees, entering an open area with a small metal tower. Climbing the tower allows visibility over the surrounding trees and the impressive views below.
Directly behind the tower, hanging on the backside of one of the thick spruce trees is ammo can size geocache (N 44° 51.839 W 068° 06.596). When we looked, the cache had only been checked a handful of times since it was originally created, so this is definitely a very cool cache to check off your list!
After exploring Lead Mountain, tired hikers can take a refreshing dip in nearby Beddington Lake (Map 25, B-1). This 404-acre body of water has a boat launch and sandy swimming area on its western shore accessible via Rt. 193 and a ¼ mile drive down a well-maintained dirt road. Intrepid anglers can fish from shore or explore the lake by boat for epic pickerel fishing opportunities. Pickerel up to 24 inches are not uncommon and provide plenty of action for young anglers or those wanting to hone their fly-fishing skills in a high yield environment. While pickerel will bite on almost anything, I prefer to use the classic red and white Dardevle or Blue Fox Vibrax. Yellow perch, small mouth and brook trout are also possibilities but less likely given the voracious appetites of the tremendous number of pickerel.
Individuals looking for a base of operations from which to conduct the adventure mentioned above would be well served to check out McClellan Park. One of the best-kept secrets in all of Downeast, McClellan Park (Map 17, A-3) provides a peaceful, quiet atmosphere and boasts impressive views of the ocean and offshore islands. Bring along a bag of charcoal and cook hamburgers and hotdogs while the kids enjoy exploring the dozens of tide pools that form at low tide. If wishing to try and fish for your lunch, mackerel and pollock can be fished right from shore, using lures, raw clams or bloodworms (bait may be purchased at the intersection of Wyman and Factory roads). Picnic tables, grills, showers and flush toilets ensure that a day spent in the park is comfortable. For those looking at a longer stay, 12 tent sites are available at the bargain price of $10 per night and limited space is available for small campers (no electrical hookup available). The town of Millbridge assists with the operation of the park and keeps it open Memorial Day through Columbus Day.