Hiking in Maine: Caribou Mountain offers a wonderful day hike

Route 113 weaves back and forth along the Maine–New Hampshire border between Fryeburg and Gilead for 30 miles, threading a route through some of the prettiest mountain country in New England. Between Stow and Route 2, the road slices through the White Mountain National Forest, where a bounty of foot trails leads deep into the wild and rugged country that characterizes this region.

The Maine section of the WMNF includes 49,000 acres of the sprawling 728,000-acre forest managed by the U.S. Forest Service. East of Evans Notch is the Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness, a 14,000-acre gem encompassing Caribou, Red Rock, Butters, Durgin, Speckled, Ames and Blueberry mountains, Spruce Hill and a handful of trail-less summits.

Established in 1990, the Wilderness is home to a dozen trails and 25 miles of great hiking possibilities as well as a good measure of solitude. It’s one of my favorite hiking areas in Maine, especially come the cool weather and colorful foliage of autumn.

The top pick for a day hike in the Wilderness is Caribou Mountain. The mountain has all the elements of a perfect day hike: two clear and cold streams, a waterfall with a swimming hole, extensive open edges and incredible summit views, all reached via a loop hike of moderate mileage. The half-day’s walk allows plenty of other time for a leisurely drive to and from the trailhead, sightseeing in the Evans Notch area.

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