|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Tunk Mountain, ME|
||Tunk Mountain Trail, Hidden Ponds Trail, herd paths |
|Date of Hike:
||Sunday, April 23, 2023|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||Well the lot has melted since last I was here!! Mid-sized dirt lot with room for over a dozen cars. About a half dozen when I arrived at 9:45am and about a dozen when I returned at 3pm. |
||Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant, Leaves - Significant/Slippery |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||All trails were blazed in blue and I didn’t find them hard to follow. I don’t recall how frequently they were blazed. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||Tunk Mtn Trail and Hidden Ponds Trail were blazed in blue and I didn’t find them hard to follow. I don’t recall how frequently they were blazed. There was an old little stepover blowdown at the start of the northern end of the Hidden Ponds Trail. A large blowdown that you could walk around was located on Tunk Mtn Trail shortly before the first ledge I believe. The herd path to Tilden Pond was marked with surveyors tape (mostly orange but some pink further along as well) but it seemed the vast majority of it was on the ground and I picked a good deal of it up. It was also occasionally blazed in blue with slightly newer but still old red blaze atop…or was it the other way around? There were a number of blowdowns along it but for a herd path not too bad and nothing too cumbersome. The loop and ridge herd path was also mostly marked with surveyors tape but I think I got glimpse of some very old red blaze as well. Some cairns along the ledges too. A number of blowdowns, some of them a pain to get around, but also signs of trail maintenance and nothing too crazy or cumbersome. Trail signs were intact. |
||Could be a bit too steep for some dog. Trail kiosk asks you to carry a leash and leash upon request. |
|Lost and Found:
||What a terrific freaking hike!! I thought this one would be a fun one but it still kinda blew me out of the water… a nice way to spend my final day in Ellsworth before heading home. |
The trail was pretty dry and flat to its jct with Hidden Ponds Trail. I continued to the upper jct with Hidden Ponds Trail between which the trail was a little rougher. I then hiked the Hidden Ponds Trail clockwise. The spur to Salmon Pond was not hard to find. Note that as the trail comes to the western end of little Long Pond, a herd path contours along its edge whereas the true trail stays right. I’d hiked the herd path and hadn’t even noticed until the two merged. Important detail if you’re redlining! There was another spur, not mentioned in the guidebook, that leads to its southernmost point/inlet. Some scrambling was required to get down there and it looked like there was some sort of teepee/structure/tarp down there but I didn’t check it out just on the off chance that someone’s actually living in there.
Where the trail turns due west SE of Salmon Pond to complete the loop, there’s an obvious herd path that heads east. There’s a sign here that says “end of maintained trail” but you could easily miss it if hiking clockwise. Out of curiosity, I hiked this herd path, and it led me in about 2/3mi to Tilden Pond. This herd path should not be difficult to follow for the experienced hiker. There was a lot of surveyors tape on it, most of it on the ground, much of which I tried to pick up. From the pond, you can continue another 1/4mi or so to a road that may be an off shoot the the road in this vicinity shown on Gaia (or the road itself and Gaia shows it in the incorrect place; this was a few hundred feet west according to Gaia). Nice view up for the ridge and the ledgy eastern subpeaks from Tilden Pond.
I returned to Hidden Ponds Trail and quickly closed the loop. I then continued north along the main trail where the trail climbing began, soon passing by Mud Pond and a little water feature as the trail nears a drainage. The first hundred yard spur wasn’t hard to find. Watch for a crease in between the rocks/ledge that was maybe 10ft deep or so. About 10min later I hit the iron rungs, then the 200ft sour trail signed “monument vista” where I got to look E/NE along the ridge to the ledgy subpeaks I saw from Tilden Pond. Continue about 0.2mi west along the summit ridge from here to reach a sign that points right and says “North Face”. Lots of blue blaze leads you on what roughly could be described as a lollipop loop with many OABs to various views, high points, rocks, etc. The views here are spectacular and there’s some fun scrambling to be had as well if you’re into that. There’s spurs off this main loop that are blazed and then just end. I was honestly very surprised they’d blaze this but it was sort of helpful.
This was where the blazing and true trail stops but decided to get some redlining extra credit and follow the trail shown on Gaia beyond.. I then continued on to the true summit as shown on Gaia where there’s a small structure (radio repeater?). Not too hard to follow to this point but beyond here it’s more of a true herd path. That said, if you’ve got the experience as enjoy this sort of thing, it’s a blast. The path is not obvious from the radio repeater but falls steeply off a ledge (look for pink flagging). You’re then treated to a really spectacular ridge walk along ledge for a ways. A cairn at the base of the ledge as you descend back into the trees signals a split in the herd path. Left is what’s shown on Gaia and stays closer to the true ridge whereas right takes you through the woods just north of the true spine of the ridge. You’ll soon enter a beautiful forest and the herd path splits again. The right fork I followed for a short ways; I think it’ll bring you down to Myrick Pond Rd. I then headed back to the jct and took the left fork which is what’s shown on Gaia.
Eventually you do descend south of the ridge. The descend featured lots of leaves which were slippery at times. Overall, this herd path is harder to follow than the one to Tilden Pond and I briefly lost the path on my way down, mostly down lower in the hardwoods. The long contour parallel to Rt 182 at the end was painful as it was very wet, muddy, and water logged. Beyond that, this was a wonderful hike! Took much longer than expected due to all the exploring but that’s okay! Gaia had me at 8.25mi, 1350ft of gain, 5hr15min.
||Liam Cooney |
Disclaimer: Reports are not verified - conditions may vary. Use at own risk. Always be prepared when hiking. Observe all signs. Trail conditions reports are not substitutes for weather reports or common sense.