Nestled high in the Moosehead lake region, Big Moose Mountain rises 2000 feet over Maine's largest body of water. Surrounded by beauty, this mountain is no exception. Big Moose mountain provides views that span across the state of Maine, from the rugged Bigelow range, to the state’s highest peak, Mt. Katahdin. The mountain also has a rich history as well. It is the home of the nation’s first fire tower, erected in 1905. Since then much has changed. A major Ski resort has been built, though in the last few years has seen minimal use due to poor conditions and heavy competition from other destination resorts such as Sugarloaf and Saddleback. However the resort’s slogan, “Ski the view,” makes perfect sense because the vistas are truly breathtaking. From the top of the summit several mountains can be seen. Across Lily Bay, Baker Mountain rises 3,520 feet, with its neighbors Lily Bay Mountain and Number Four Mountain to the left. Further up the lake, the Spencer mountains emerge east of Kineo Mountain. To the west the four sharp peaks of the Bigelow range dominate the horizon, with Sugarloaf Mountain behind.
In order to find your way to the trail head you mush follow Rt. 15 into Greenville. You want to take a left in the center of the town towards Greenville Junction, and Rockwood, staying on Rt. 15. From here you will pass a series of local shops, as well as the area high school, following the road for about 5 miles. Look out for the sign that signifies the Squaw Brook campground on the left. When this is reached you want to take this left an follow the dirt road for 1.5 miles until you reach the trail head. There is a parking lot and sign to tell you where you are.
From the parking area, the trail warms you up with a pleasant 2.5 miles of easy hiking. After this first stretch you will find yourself at an old fire wardens cabin that can be used for an overnight stay. After you depart from the cabin the trail begins to get steep with a rock staircase that leads to the summit. Along the way there will be two lookout spots that offer fine vantage points if you choose to venture that way. After gaining about 2000 feet you reach the summit with views all around. The trail is a return hike, though there is possibly trail that leads across the ridgeline to the north. One can also make their way to mirror pond just below the summit. The Penobscot Ski Trail also lies just below the summit, and can be used to hike down in a loop circuit of the mountain if you decide to leave a car at the Squaw Mountain Resort at the base. The total milage of the hike is about 7.5 miles.
There is nothing that says camping is not permitted; however, there is really no place to do so unless you stealth it. Lily Bay State Park is located about 10 miles outside of Greenville and offers full camping accommodations, with views of Big Moose Mountain as well as the surrounding area.
You can climb this mountain anytime of year, however the most hazardous season would be in June when the Black Fly population can be a bit overwhelming.
Hitsory of the Mountain
Many might be unfamiliar with Big Moose mountain, because before the year 2000 the mountain was known as Big Squaw. The state felt the previous name was offensive to the Native American population, and decided to make the change. However the Ski resort which encompasses a portion of the mountain still bears the name Squaw. Legend has it, Squaw was the name of old Chief Kineo’s wife who left him because he was awful man; she supposedly died on the mountain that once bore her name. Today the mountain and area that surrounds it is in jeopardy, due to the Plum Creek timber company which has plans to develop much of the Moosehead Lake region. The area, which in past times was a wood harvesting capital, has seen much change. Currently the region enjoys tourism as its staple of income, but with plans to develop it further, the pristine wilderness as we know it today could vanish into a metropolis of weekend get away resorts. This land must be persevered, because the region is one of the few untouched places left for those who wish to enjoy nature without the burden of big city life knocking on the door. If you are interested in countering Plum Creek’s developmental plan you can contact the Natural Resources Council of Maine by visiting their website at http://www.nrcm.org/.
Plum Creek has created the largest conservation easement and conservation fee acquisition project ever for the Moosehead Lake Region and is working with the State of Maine Bureau of Parks & Lands to define new trail development. Plum Creek is not the devil - there are a lot of good things in the works for the region that won't, in my opinion, change the hiking experience of visitors to places like Big Moose Mountain: it will enhance it.
The hiking experience may improve - but with that will come increased development. While the outlook seems better than it did say 4 years ago, one can only hope that Moosehead does not become the next Winnipesaukee.