By: Berkeley Elias, Staff Writer
A fall semester comprised of calculus and physics courses requires that one find refuge. For me, that means packing the essentials and heading off campus. Although reception is likely too weak to access MyMathLab in the Maine woods, it’s probably a good idea to take a rest and allow the mind and laptop to relax for a bit.
Overnight trips can be intimidating, which is why included in this list are hikes that can be accomplished in as little as an afternoon. Also included are some challenging trails aimed at those willing to tackle the learning curve associated with backpacking and hiking, which is far easier than calculating integrals, and arguably more rewarding.
Grafton Notch extends from the White Mountains into Maine. The state park offers comparable levels of beauty, especially when the leaves are changing. After arriving at the lot on Route 26, marked “Trailhead Parking,” a map will offer many trail options, with red-colored alternatives indicating more challenging routes. Take these on the ascent if you’re feeling courageous. Leave the easier routes for the descent.
Clouds quickly pass over this range. With the wind comes weather that changes rapidly, so be prepared. The state park also offers great camping locations along the trail, so if you’re like me, you’ll pack a few extra McChickens for breakfast. In the rare instance that you’ve forgotten to pack McChickens, be sure to fuel up on some pulled pork at Smokin’ Good BBQ on your way down Route 2.
Just shy of Tumbledown’s summit sits appropriately named Tumbledown Pond, perfect for cooling off after the hike up. If you’re looking for a challenge, ascend the loop trail which navigates through PT Cruiser-sized boulders and requires a fair amount of climbing.
Because of the challenges, a light backpack will make this trip much more enjoyable. I decided, however, to bring all the camera equipment I own because inevitably I will use half of it. On the bright side, I’m now in good enough shape to lift the thirteenth edition of Thomas’ Calculus.
If you’ve made the two-hour trip north it’s worth the extra 45 minutes to visit Rangeley Lake State Park, where you’ll find great camping opportunities and cheap canoe rentals. There are also inns and resorts nearby if you’re looking for quicker ways to deplete your financial aid.
ACADIA NATIONAL PARK
The Beehive in Acadia National Park rises in elevation extremely fast. This is only possible because the trail ascends a cliffside. Several warning signs indicate the dangers associated with hiking up the side of a cliff, but we might as well enjoy our national parks before they’re gone, right?
After summiting the Beehive, a short trail to brings you to The Bowl, a small pond that offers great tadpole-watching. From there, a separate and more manageable trail will take you back to a Subaru advertisement that resembles a parking lot. Because of this trail’s popularity, I recommend arriving early in the morning. There’s more to see in Acadia, so give yourself plenty of time to get your $30 entry fee’s worth. If you plan on spending the night, a scenic drive down Park Loop Road to Seawall Campground has no shortage of incredible views and winding roads. Don’t forget to stop at Thunder Hole on the way, presumably named this after the booming voices of Maine’s leaf-peeping visitors.
HARPSWELL CLIFF TRAIL
Close your eyes and imagine Acadia without the traffic, tourists and entry-fee. That doesn’t exist. However, Harpswell comes close. The Harpswell cliff trail runs parallel with the coastline on an elevated ridge with beautiful views. Depending on what floor of the garage you’ve parked on, the trailhead is roughly forty minutes from the Portland campus. This trail is great for families and pets but is poorly marked making it easy to roam off-trail.
Pleasant mountain lives up to its name: it’s a mountain. Many know this area as the home of the ski-hill, Shawnee Peak. With a large network of trails, Pleasant also offers great fun during the other two months of the year. At roughly three miles, Ledges Trail is a great option offering scenic views in all directions. Upon reaching the summit, you’ll find a rusty fire tower. Climb this to impress friends. Highland Lake public beach is a 15-minute drive from the trailhead when you’re finished, so don’t forget your swim trunks.