Big Spencer mountain, like many Maine mountains presents itself with a moderately strenuous hike offering rewards of great views at the top. Big Spencer and it's lesser twin Little Spencer rise northeast of Moosehead Lake, at the heart of Maine's wild north woods. At 3,230 feet above sea level and with 2,000 feet of vertical rise, Big Spencer's rectangular mass is a unique mountain. Millions of years ago the mountain was volcanic and is composed of volcanic rhyolite. Along the trail you will discover a piece of Maine's past as you pass an abandoned fire-rangers cabin. You can walk right through the door and examine fire reports of past years. A fire tower built in 1917 still stands on the open summit, however over the past few years has become unsafe to climb. From the top you are surrounded by Maine's largest lake and the it's most impressive mountain range. To the Northeast rise the mountains of Baxter State Park and the 30 mile length of Chesuncook lake, further east the mountains Number 4, Lily Bay, Baker, White Cap, and Elephant create a string of impressive peaks. Across Moosehead Lake, which can be seen in it's entirety, Big Moose Mountain provides a backdrop. Sugarloaf and Bigelow Mountain can be seen as well on a clear day behind Big Moose. Little Spencer and it's steep mass is the closest feature to the right. However the best view is that of the Katahdin Group to the Northeast. The range is only 30 miles away and it is clear why some call Katahdin and its subsidiaries the most impressive mountain range east of the Rockies.
From the trailhead you begin walking gradually through mixed hardwoods and spruce. After gaining about 900 feet in 1.3 miles you arrive at the abandoned fire wardens cabin. From here you can look up at the peak that waits .7 miles above you. The last section gains 1000 feet in the short distance. Old wooden ladders are placed in various places to help you avoid slick mud and headwalls. Unfortunately the ladders have deteriorated and their safety is questionable. In many places it was just as easy to climb along side them than use them. The fire tower at the top can be climbed, however the observation tower's flooring looked rotted and unsafe. When I first climbed the mountain 14 years ago I remember getting inside the structure, but time has now taken its toll on the 91 year old tower.
From Portland take 1-95 to the Newport exit 157, take a left onto ME-7, another left on to ME-23, left again onto ME-15/ ME-16/ ME-6, and follow through Monson to Greenville. Continue to follow the Lily Bay Road straight through all the way to Kokadjo. From here the directions get tricky. At the fork .2 miles from Kokadjo bare left and follow this road through the old Great Northern Paper Companies Siras Gate. Years ago you would check in here, however the gate is abandoned now. From the gate the road gets very rough, any vehicle that does not have all wheel drive or 4x4 could suffer. After following the road for 3.2 miles beyond the gate, and directly after passing Bear Brooke campsite, turn left onto an unmarked road. Follow this road for 6.3 miles and the trailhead is on the left. It is marked with a snowmobile sign, however there is no indication of a hiking trail. If you keep track of the milage the trail is easy to find, if you don't you could get lost in a maze of unmarked logging roads.
There are a few tent platforms on the trail, and plenty of room in the meadow outside the fire wardens cabin. There are also camping spots available at Bear Brook Campground 6 miles from the trailhead.
Getting lost on the dirt roads is far scarier than hiking the trail, so pay attention to where you are going, also be sure to yield to the big trucks, they own the road up there. Caution should be used when climbing on the ladders and the fire tower, they are very old.