Looking down upon the Kineo Hotel
Since we find ourselves around Moosehead Lake after visiting
Moxie Falls, there is another interesting hike
nearby. Mt. Kineo
is a small, but dramatic peak rising about 800 feet over the lake. Moosehead Lake is enormous, boasting over 400
miles of shoreline, and there is a tower at the summit of Mt.
Kineo that offers amazing views of this
beautiful lake and the pine forests of Central Maine.
In addition to stunning views, Mt. Kineo
has a fascinating history. The mountain
was renowned by Native Americans because it is basically a huge pile of flint, early
raw material for tools and starting fires.
A view of the peninsula where the Kineo Hotel is on the path back
Tribes would send people from over a thousand miles away to trade for
this valuable resource.
The peak is
named after a local chief who was so heartless and spiteful that he actually
got kicked out of his tribe and lived the rest of his life as an outcast on the
After Henry David Thoreau visited Mt. Kineo
and regaled its natural beauty, a small hotel was built along the shore and
eventually became a sizable resort, the Kineo Hotel (it had almost 300 rooms!). When I hiked Mt. Kineo
in 1993, the hotel was still there, abandoned but still in fairly decent shape
and gigantic (it has since been razed).
The only problem with Mt.
might be getting there. It sits on a peninsula
jutting into the lake and is encircled by privately held land (owned by paper
mills). The only way to get to the
trailhead is by boat and we contacted Rockwood Cottages to reserve a ride out
and back. Rockwood is the small village
just across the lake from the trailhead --- to get there just head twenty miles
north of Greenville
on Rt. 15. I’ve heard there is now a
shuttle boat service with regular hours for $8 round trip, though we found it very
easy to arrange things with Rockwood Cottages, including requesting our pick-up time. Asking for the boat to return in five hours
was just about perfect – we had plenty of time to make the summit, return and
even explore the Kineo Hotel a bit.
Mt. Kineo from Rockwood Cottages (where we caught our boat across the lake)
There are several trails to choose from, the one we picked
skirted the spectacular flint cliffs most of the way (I think this was called
the Indian Trail, and if I haven’t mentioned this earlier, I would rate this a
‘medium’ hike, requiring you to pack water and pay attention on the
trail!). At the top is a fire tower,
which was fairly new back in 1993. We
spent some time absorbing the views from this crow’s nest --- you could see all
of Moosehead Lake, which is quite a span! Our return was more wooded, with only
occasional cliff skipping.
Another off-the-beaten-path hike that comes highly
recommended, so long as you remember to bring some deet along. We hit this trail in May and the mosquito’s
and black flies would have been deadly without!!!