Caribou Mountain (2840′) is the second highest peak in the Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness, in the portion of the White Mountain National Forest in the state of Maine. It has a bare summit with open ledges and excellent views.
The best way to hike Caribou Mountain is up the Mud Brook Trail and down the Caribou Trail. Both trails share the same parking lot off Rt. 113 making a loop hike very convenient. Seven miles in length. I’d classify this as a moderate hike with 1900 feet of elevation and an estimated hike time of 5 hours.
I recently led a loop hike up Caribou Mountain for the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Cold River Camp, a rustic volunteer managed hiking camp in nearby Evans Notch. Hikers and their families usually visit Cold River Camp for a week at a time and hike everyday or participate in the many daily activities offered by the camp.
The Mud Brook Trail continues over the summit and descents to the Caribou Trail passing the site of the old Caribou Shelter, now removed, before arriving at the trail junction for the Caribou Trail. To return to the trail head parking lot turn left (west).
There are numerous blowdowns (mostly branches, not trees) just past the trail junction, but these are easy to walk around. The trail goes “down” and is easy to acquire if you lose sight of it under the tree branches.
After a steep descent, you arrive at a section of trail that runs adjacent to many cascades and waterfalls. These are a delight after a rain when the water channels are full.
The trail widens as you descend, joining an old logging road before arriving at a final unbridged stream crossing. Judging by the bridge abutments on both sides of the trail, the bridge was washed out by past flooding. But do not fret, your car is in the nearby parking lot and perhaps a fresh pair of socks awaits.
Trail mileage breakdown:
- Mud Brook Trail: 3.4 miles w/ 1900′ elevation gain
- Caribou Trail: 3.0 miles w/ 0′ elevation gain
Total distance: 6.4 miles w/ 1900′ elevation gain
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