This is the hike that almost didn’t happen. So early Wednesday morning the Boss (also known as my awesome wife) asked my plans for the day. “Well might finally get a chance to mow the lawn or get the yard ready for winter” was my reply. “It is going to rain the rest of the week” was her riposte. Sigh don’t you love fall in Maine? So the internal struggle begins. To hike or not to hike. This is the only day the Sidekick and I could get out of the house and spend time in the woods but there is a stack of chores that need to be done, mow the lawn, chop and split wood for the winter, get the snowthrower ready for winter, and a myriad of small tasks that need to be completed before snowflakes fly. Well as you can see the hike won out.
We initially headed to hike the MT Meader Trail. When we arrived at the trailhead it looked more like a logging site then a trailhead, trash, spare chainsaws laying around, dog food dishes, and a bag of empty budlight cans. So on the spur of the moment I decided we would hike up to the Basin Rim via the Basin Trail. The Basin Trail connects the Basin Pond with Wild River Campground. I have hiked the Wild River Campground side many times but this was the first time we hiked the Basin Pond side. The trail starts in the parking lot for the Basin Pond picnic area. The picnic area has a few picnic tables, grill stands, and a boat ramp. There use to be a latrine in the area also but it seems that it has been taken out. Cold River Campground is close by and the Basin Campground is just a little farther up the road.
The trail begins winding through the woods up hill a little from the shoreline as it heads to the head of the pond. Shortly after entering the trail you will discover many small trails cutting across the trail. They are coming from the separate campsites of the Basin Campground, be careful that you don’t wander off the main path. As you pass through this section the sounds from the campground will follow you through the woods. The trail winds through the woods sometimes dipping close to the pond shoreline offering a teasing glimpse of the potential views of the mountains. After a little over a half mile the trail will dip down to the shoreline and meet up with the remnants of an old access road. As the path follows the shoreline the pond will start to turn into a bog with winding streams of open water cutting through the swamp growth. Enjoy this part of the trail because very shortly it will leave the remnants of the road and head back into the woods, (WP Leaves road) just prior to reaching the waypoint keep an eye out for the HUGE beaver dam in the area. I had a small glimpse of a wake in the pond which was most likely a beaver but it was gone in a flash.
Even though the trail leaves the old road it still doesn’t get that much more difficult. For a while the trail is actually quite easy and enjoyable. The trail winds through the woods above the pond. There are multiple stream crossings, many of them are dry during this part of the year, but many of them are not so dry (WP Brook Crossing) at this time all of the crossing were very easy but during the spring months I believe this could be quite difficult. A small bridge offers dry crossing when the trail actually crosses over the Basin Brook. Even after the dry summer we have there was many wet spots in the trail. The trail will start to slowly climb as it winds through the glades. Eventually the trail will offer a small bypass in the form of access to Hermit Falls Loop.
This intersection (WP Lower Hermit Falls Junc) provides access to Hermit Falls which is a small but energetic waterfall falling down a series of rock outcroppings reaching out from the forest floor. The intersection also marks the end of the leisure stroll through the forest and the beginning of the up hill climb. The trail remains dry through most of this section until you reach a small brook (WP Meet and Follow Brook) where the trail will parallel and then cross a small stream. This crossing is complicated a bit by a massive tree that has fallen across the trail and partially rotted, smaller kids might have a difficult time navigated the path in this area.
Once making the crossing the terrain will really start to climb. But the trail difficulty does not increase that much. The trail approaches the increasing elevation at a shallow angle thus making for a moderate assent. Because of this though there are spots along the trail where the slope of the hill falls away sharply from the edge of the trail. An excited sidekick or an unobservant parent could easily take a step that would have a long drop so keep an extra eye out. Eventually you will notice a steep rock face through the trees on your right. Don’t worry we are not going to have to scale that. The trail skirts along the bottom of the rock face when the trail passes the rock face it will turn sharply up towards the top of the ridge. The trail is going to pass through a cleft in the Basin Rim while this section is short it can be a little tricky because of the lose rocks and sand but not very difficult. After passing through this section congratulate yourself because now you are at the top of the Basin Rim. In about a hundred feet you will meet up with the Basin Rim Juntion (WP Rim Junction). From the this trail junction you can continue on down the Basin Trail which leads to Wild River Campground, Black Angel Trail and the Blue Brook Shelter, Mt Meader via the Basin Rim Trail, or West Royce Mtn via the other side of Basin Rim Trail.
The sidekick and I continued along the Basin Rim Trail towards Mt Meader for a couple of minutes until I got a good look at the sun. We had about twoish hours before the sun would slip behind the ridgeline so we turned around and spent some time on an outcropping relaxing. Well I tried to relax and he tried to eat everything that he could get his hands on. He enjoyed the maple leaves but decided that pine cones were not a delicacy that he enjoyed. After our rest we headed back down the Basin Trail back to our jeep.
This section of the Basin Trail is an excellent family hike, because its short distance and varied terrain layout it could act as a good trial run to see if your sidekicks are ready to tackle the more difficult rated trails in the area. Just make be aware that there are sections of the trail that are going to be very wet during the spring months.