Three kids bound up the trail toward the summit of John B. Mountain. The adults make their way behind as the day’s temperature climbs to 90 degrees. A canopy of pine trees shades the hikers as they ascend the steep incline.
“This is such a great hike especially for people with kids because it’s a quick hike up to the top,” said Blue Hill Heritage Trust Development and Outreach Director Chrissy Allen before embarking on the morning’s adventure in August.
Overlooking Eggemoggin Reach, John B. Mountain rises 250 feet along the shore in the town of Brooksville. The small peak is among Blue Hill Heritage Trust’s 16 holdings encompassing more than 7,000 acres on the Blue Hill Peninsula.
The John B. Mountain trailhead can be found next to a small cemetery where the peak’s namesake is buried. However, who John B. was remains a mystery.
“There’s not much information about him or if that’s even his real name,” said trail steward Aaron Glazer.
“That’s one of the interesting things about this property,” Allen added. At most trails, you don’t start in the cemetery where the person the property is named for is buried.”
In 2009, the mountain was donated by Joel and Ruth Davis to the trust. The trust manages and maintains the property’s trail system and public access.
Only one mile long, the John B. Loop trail is considered easy to moderate hiking. The climb starts in the woods and becomes rockier as the path ascends.
This, Allen’s mother, Jo Barrett, 8-year-old daughter Adie, 6-year-old son Corwin and 8-year-old family friend Charlie Sullivan are game to climb despite the hot temps.
White quartz flashes in the sunlight filtering through the pine branches. Allen, Barrett and Glazer point out and identify brocade moss, reindeer lichen and polypody ferns as they meander upward.
When the group passes by a small, gnarly-boughed tree, Barrett asks her grandchildren to identify the sapling. After counting the needles and examining the trunk’s color, the youngsters conclude it’s a Jack pine.
Reaching the mountain’s summit, the hikers are rewarded with a view of Penobscot Bay unfolding below. Little Deer Isle is off to the left. On a clear day, Vinalhaven’s wind turbines can be seen. To the right, the smoky Camden Hills rise in the distance.
“For not a lot of work, it’s a huge payoff,” Allen notes. “The views are spectacular.”
The kids explore the summit scrambling over granite and rhyolite boulders. Blueberry and huckleberry bushes grow wild among the rocks. Allen picks a few to taste.
It’s time for a mid-hike snack. Barrett pulls out a tin of homemade peach coffee cake made with homegrown peaches and fresh eggs from backyard chickens. Within minutes crumbs are all that remain.
As the kids continue to lead the way, they discover some of nature’s treasures. First, the explorers find an inchworm hanging from a leaf. Soon after, they scurry back to show Allen bird’s egg shells they discovered. The baby-blue pieces are quickly confirmed as robin eggs.
The expedition finishes with a jaunt down a recently new completed 0.2 mile-path to Horseshoe Cove. Great blue herons frequent the area, but today only a few seagulls can be seen on the flats at low tide.
“I really encourage families to go find John B. Mountain,” Allen says on the way back to the trailhead. She notes that the trail is relatively easy and leads to dramatic vistas. It’s also not well known.
“It’s a nice place for solitude,” she summed up.
To find the John B. Mountain trailhead, go to www.bluehillheritagetrust.org. For more info, call 374-5118.