Hiking in Maine: Crocker Hill in Paris offers a panorama of the White Mountains
Crocker Hill rises 1,374 feet in the Paris Hill district of the city of Paris. It is the only one of the 17 Oxford Hills peaks described in the AMC Maine Mountain Guide that this hiker had not yet visited. But at last, one glorious fall morning, I shouldered my backpack, slid around the green forest gate, and headed out to take a look around.
Just a quarter mile along the grassy track, I met a man unloading an ATV from an official-looking truck, and we struck up a conversation. It turned out that Greg Seamans of New England Forestry Consultants was the forester for the property, some 900 acres that had been owned for many years by the Makowski family of Massachusetts and managed for timber and hay.
I was quick to sincerely thank the Makowskis for their generosity in allowing hikers like me to use the trail. And with permission, I would now add the name Makowski to the Crocker Hill trail description in the Maine Mountain Guide, which I compiled and edited for over a decade. Attaching a landowner name to a place is an important step in establishing a connection between the land and the recreational user.
Seamans also maintains the hiking trail on Crocker Hill, which follows an old carriage road to a high point on the western slope, then changes to a trail marked with red paint blazes and rock cairns to the summit. It was my first time here, I couldn’t wait to see more, so I said goodbye to Seamans, who had wood stand improvement work on his to-do list.
As I climbed up, I looked for the remains of the two mines which were marked on a map I had found online, but to no avail. According to a document posted on the Boston Mineral Club website, graphite and molybdenum were once mined from the Crocker Hill mines, along with quartz and pyrite. Maybe I needed to look deeper, but this was the view I was really looking for.
At the junction of the carriage road and the trail is an open lookout which affords a view west of the White Mountains, similar, I suppose, to that depicted in the 1868 sketch by George L. Vose, whose map drawn at hand presents a long line of mountains from Pleasant, Chocorua and Kearsarge to Carrigain and Washington. And there they were on full screen.
With an iPhone in hand, there was no way to really capture the scene, but I still took a bunch of photos to fix it in my memory (and post it on social media, of course). And with the ever-useful Peak Finder app, I was able to identify many more mountain peaks about 40 miles west of my vantage point.
The trail continues above the North Lookout and was established by the Makowskis years ago. As I sat on the rotting log bench, I was filled with gratitude for this place and the countless other natural gems preserved by private landowners throughout Maine and so graciously made available to hikers. With the increasing number of hikers on the trail these days, I was also reminded that practicing “leave no trace” and good trail etiquette has never been more important, regardless of the terrain on which you are.
About This Man by George L. Vose: He was a Maine native, railroad engineer, author of several books, and professor at Bowdoin College. He was also a member of the White Mountain Club of Portland, the second oldest mountaineering club in North America. Founded in 1873, the club predated the venerable Appalachian Mountain Club by three years. The first such club was the Alpine Club of Williamstown, Massachusetts.
The idea for the White Mountain Club of Portland was born by six men while climbing New Hampshire’s Mount Carrigain, a rather strenuous adventure that took two guides and four days to complete. The club lasted until 1884, but during this brief period its members extensively explored the White Mountains of New Hampshire and Maine, mapping and naming many mountains, including Carrigain’s Vose Spur in honor of none other than George L. Vose.
Mount Desert Island’s Carey Kish is an award-winning member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. His latest book, “Beer Hiking New England”, will be out in late winter. Follow Carey’s adventures on Facebook and Instagram @careykish
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