Forty-five years ago there was only one trail to the top of Ragged Mountain in the Camden Hills. The original Ragged Mountain Trail started on Gillette Road in Rockport and progressed southeast to the summit. Since the first part of the trail crossed private property, access was subject to the owner’s discretion and sometimes closed.
Much improved in the years that followed. About three decades ago, the Georges Highland Path was inaugurated. From Highway 17 in West Rockport, the road crosses Ragged Mountain to Barnstown Road in Camden.
Additionally, a side trail was constructed from the Thorndike Brook trailhead on Hope Road which joins the main road west of the highest point. The lower part of the original Ragged Mountain trail has been closed. Georges River Land Trust maintains the BPH.
More recently, a trail system from the Camden Snow Bowl downhill ski area has been added to the expanding Ragged Mountain system. Included are two trails on the north side of the mountain, the Hosmer Brook and Red Diamond trails. Both lead to the summit area.
Cross-country skiing and mountain biking trails are also located near the Snow Bowl. In 2020, the first section of the Sentier Rond de la Montagne, a cycle and pedestrian path, was built on the southern and eastern perimeters of the massif. In short, Ragged Mountain has become a multifaceted outdoor paradise.
Since the inception of GHP my friends and I have done our best to use the trails at Ragged Mountain. Now most of us are old and retired, but we still go back regularly.
Only about an hour’s drive from my home in Topsham, I find myself enjoying the spectacular views that the captivating prominence has to offer several times a year. When I wrote my mountain guide, “Mountains for Mortals – New England”, Ragged Mountain was a must-have inclusion.
After announcing a Penobscot Paddle & Chowder Society hike on Ragged Mountain in December, three retired Chowderheads immediately accepted the invitation. One participant, Dave Boyle, recommended a loop hike on the Hosmer Brook and Red Diamond trails. A new effort for the rest of the group, we enthusiastically embraced his suggestion.
It was cool and windy when the four of us met in the Camden Snow Bowl parking lot. Unsure of the trail conditions at higher elevations and expecting cold brisk winds, we packed micro crampons and parkas.
The start of the Hosmer Brook trail was not obvious. However, Dave guided us to the far right of the ski area where a blue diamond sign and symbols marked the start. Although the passage is wet in spots and a few creek crossings were necessary, we enjoyed the easy hike up a gradual incline through a predominantly deciduous forest.
After passing the junctions for an alternate loop hike, we climbed some steep switchbacks before arriving at the GHP on Ragged Mountain Ridge. The ridge area of the trail was part of the original Ragged Mountain trail.
Fishing to the left, we progressed quickly over partially exposed ledges before entering a confined corridor in a densely wooded area. After climbing abruptly on an icy rock formation, our group of elderly people, not acting their age, arrived on a continuum of cliffs and the fun began.
For me, the magnificent elongated escarpment on the west face of Ragged Mountain is a fascinating attraction. Rather than turning left on Red Diamond Trail, we extended our trip by continuing onto GHP along the cliffs.
Despite strong winds and patches of ice, we were not disappointed. Phenomenal views of Mirror Lake and the southern Camden Hills were our reward as we negotiated the steep cliff edge.
There are two peaks on Ragged Mountain. We stopped for lunch on the east side of the southeast summit, where stepped ledges provided shelter from the wind. From there a short hike over large boulders to the Red Diamond Trail took us to the scenic highest point of Ragged Mountain.
Leaving the summit, we began our descent on the winding, lightly wooded Red Diamond Trail. Soon the alpine ski slopes could be observed. Incongruous snow banks attest to snowmaking efforts. Near the parking lot, mountain bikers hurtling down a nearby trail caught our attention.
When we reached our vehicles, a member calculated the trip to be 4.1 miles on their GPS. The unanimous conclusion: Our new Ragged Mountain route was an exceptional route that would repeat itself.