North of Portland, along U.S. Route 1, is a slice of Maine often overlooked by vacationers on their way to Acadia National Park. Known as the Midcoast region, it is made up of four counties, of which we visited the youngest, Knox. Like the rest of the Frontier State, this 1,500 miles long stretch of rugged coastline has more than its fair share of serene harbors, fishing villages, pine-covered cliffs, lighthouses, artsy downtowns and lobsters. We stayed in Rockport and explored the nearby towns of Camden, Rockland and Owl’s Head.
From downtown Camden, if you go north, you will find 5,700 acres of cliffs, lowlands and rocky shores, making up the town’s popular state park. Between Mount Megunticook (the highest mainland mountain on the Atlantic coast) and Mount Battie, we chose the latter. Well, the view tipped the scales in Battie’s favor. We paid at the park entrance ($4.50 each for non-Maine residents) and soon after, turned left to see a parking lot for hikers. Well, there are two ways you can get to the peak of Mount Battie, the easy take-your-car-to-the-top way and its time-consuming, tiring yet feel-good alternative. Ignoring the voice of reason, we decided to hike up to the summit of Mount Battie, where they have the stone look-out tower and a surreal view of Penobscot Bay.
If you go by way of the Nature Trail, you will find lichen covered rocks, wooden planks and shaded slopes for most of the time, but as with any hike, the trail has its moments. Quite a few of them. But we opted for the tougher route, remember? Once you hit the top and get an eyeful of the Camden Harbor dotted with billowy white sails and some two-hundred-odd islands, you will realize it was every bit worth the effort. After you are done admiring the view, you may want to look below your feet and take notice of the rock. It is quartzite, a metamorphic rock which is what makes Mount Battie stick out from the south end of Camden Hills. Unlike the surrounding rocks, it stood its ground against erosion, quite literally.
We took our time at the summit, mostly because we were hiking with a nine-month-old. Not too impressed by the sweeping views around him, he seemed intent on nabbing an errant ant. Luckily for our tired backs and aching muscles, the drive back to the hotel didn’t take too long. We had put up at a lakefront property in Rockport, called Ledges by the Bay, and every morning, for three glorious days, we sat in its sunroom, sipping coffee and looking at windjammers. If I had to pick the best moment from the trip, the leisurely breakfasts would certainly have taken the top spot had it not been for a passing remark by a fellow hiker who smiled at our nine-month-old son and said “You must be the youngest hiker to have climbed Mount Battie.”