I’m just going to put this out there up front. This hike pushed my limits. I struggle when a hike has a lot of elevation to it and this mountain trail rises about 800 feet although the saving grace is that it’s not exceptionally long.
We went to Ireland a few years back and I spent a lot of time in the months leading up to our vacation running up and down the stairs in our house in ten minute intervals in preparation for climbing Skellig Michael. The remote island off the coast of Ireland has the remains of a monastery at the top but you have to climb around 600 steps to reach it. The more current claim to fame for the island is that some of the new Star Wars movies were filmed there. I made it to the top but it was rough. I haven’t improved much with my vertically inclined hikes.
Why do I keep doing them? Because the payoff when you reach the top is always amazing and our hike at the Maiden Cliff Trail in Camden reinforced this point. When you reach the end of the trail it opens up onto gorgeous views of Megunticook Lake down below.
Maiden Cliff Trail, Camden, Maine
As a testament to how amazing the views were after reaching the top of the Maiden Cliff Trail we continued on a little further along the Scenic Trail which meant more climbing. Overall, the hike was just under 2 miles but it felt longer. The trail is rated moderate on most sites. You have to navigate a lot of rocks, boulders and roots on the climb so be sure to wear appropriate hiking shoes. We hiked up on a warm September day but there was lots of shade on the way up although the top is fairly open to the sun so I recommend a hat.
A few things stand out about this hike. The first is that it’s extremely well marked which came in handy once we got to the top and away from the trees. The granite outcroppings are everywhere and it’s easy to get turned around but the blue trail markers painted onto the rocks kept us on track.
One of the focal points at the top of the trail is an enormous white cross that was erected in memory of a young girl from the late 1800s who died after falling off the cliff. Here is a link to an article that goes into more detail about the history of the trail.
Finally, it’s a busy trail. We passed a lot of other hikers on our way up and again on our way down. It’s an extremely popular trail. The only tough part, at least for my ego, was seeing so many young kids maneuvering the trail with ease while I had to keep stopping to catch my breath.
After we returned from our trip to Ireland, my husband framed a picture of Skellig Michael for me. I get to look at it every day. Maybe I’ll have to start framing some pictures of my Maine hikes too to remind myself that sometimes the hikes that are the most challenging often lead to the best rewards.