View Full Version : Tumbledown Mt, Maine 4/10/2004

04-11-2004, 05:40 PM
At 3068 feet, Tumbledown isn't on any lists, but its a great little mountain to hike with great views on clear day. This day, however was not very clear, with frequent snow squalls and temps of around 25 degrees. The cold was actually a blessing as it keep the trail mostly frozen with only few muddy spots.

The Byron Notch Road to the Brook Trail trailhead is in pretty good shape except for one section after the turnoff for the Parker Ridge Trail, where there were a few deep ruts and a small washout that may be difficult for low-clearance vehicle to cross.

The Brook Trail was mostly dry until about 1500 feet. However, this would have been a different story if the weather had been warmer. Above this, there were occasional wet and/or muddy spots which turned mostly icy after crossing Tumbledown Brook at about 2200 feet. The hiking became a bit tricky as we climbed the last steep section below Tumbledown Pond, since the light snow which was falling during most of the hike eventually began to accumulate enough to make it difficult to tell what was ice and what was snow underfoot.

Nellie and I reached the Pond just as a blustery snow squall arrived from the west, so instead of taking a break, we pushed on for the shelter of the trees at the foot of the climb to the East Peak. However, by the time we got there, the sun was starting to come out so we continued our climb. At the summit of the East Peak, another squall blew though, so we quickly headed down into the col between the East and West Peaks where the Loop Trail comes up from the south. Once again the sun began to peak through the clouds and we pushed on for the West Peak. At the top, we had a few moments respite from the snow and wind. However, we could see another squall approaching so after only a few moments rest we began our descent. We finally took a longer break in a sheltered nook on the flank of the East Peak.

On the hike down, the temps had warmed enough to make the trail a bit wetter, but not enough to thaw the mud. So overall, our timing was impeccable! Nice first spring hike (with winter-like conditions). Photos can be seen here. (http://www.turnorama.org/Trips/Tumbledown/index.htm)

04-11-2004, 06:36 PM
Nice report Turnbill.I have always wondered about that area ,reading many reports about it.The photos make it look like a little micro-climate region just waiting to be explored.Nice one!I gotta go there!!!:p

04-12-2004, 07:02 AM
Turnbill, I love hiking those mountains, including the Jacksons. North Tumbledown is actually on the 3000 footer list (as are Little Jackson, Big Jackson, and North Jackson). It's an easy bushwhack with several good approaches. What you get is a long open ridge devoid of people - they're all over on the other side gawking at you! It's a real zoo scene at the pond on a summer's day.

Interesting comment about the microclimate: Little Jackson, even on the warmest day, seems always to have a stiff cool breeze.

04-12-2004, 08:32 AM
Nice pictures - I've always wanted to climb Tumbledown Mt. Now I'll have to check out the Jacksons as well. Alas, so many mountains, so little time!

04-12-2004, 09:44 AM
Originally posted by audrey
North Tumbledown is actually on the 3000 footer list

Yeah, well I meant lists that any typical person might use, not someone like you Audrey! ;)

I agree, there are dozens of nice places and routes to explore in that little cluster of mountains. Best of all, they're only 40 miles from my house!

Jim lombard
04-12-2004, 10:42 AM
Great report-It's a beautiful area, we climbed Jackson then tried to bushwhack across the ridge to Tumbledown. It seemed there was (in 2001) the beginnings of a trail connecting peaks but it ended and we had to climb through some pretty rough terrain to get to the pond. That area around the pond reminds me allot of Glacier lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

04-12-2004, 10:42 AM
Great pictures as always. That looks like a great hike.

I'm going to have to take a day out sometime soon! Haven't hit the trails for three weekends in a row!!!!


04-13-2004, 06:02 AM
Looks like a great hike Bill! Great photo's as usual! Nell looks like she enjoyed the day!!

I hear ya Bob... I've been stuck hiking local the past few weeks also due to work etc... But this is a 4 day weekend for me up comming up!!!

04-13-2004, 08:14 AM
Turnbill -

Where is Maine is Tumbledown? I work at a summer camp on Long Lake in Harrison and am always looking for new hikes for the campers. Loved the sign "not for children or dogs"!

04-13-2004, 11:18 AM
Tumbledown's on Map 19 of the Maine Delorme Atlas. It's about 13 miles north of Rumford and 30 miles east of the ME/NH border in Township 6, North of Weld.

Despite the sign, Nell has been down or up the Loop Trail a couple of times. Of course she's no ordinary dog!

04-13-2004, 03:56 PM
Beautiful area. I hiked the loop trail last August and was a little surprised at how steep the trail was. Is there another way to the top from the ledges about halfway up? There seemed to be a trail but there weren't any signs.


04-14-2004, 07:43 AM

I've noticed some climbers' paths in the area - maybe that's what it was.

04-14-2004, 09:04 AM
Just curious, then why is it called the loop trail if there isn't a loop?
Is this also called the chimney trail?
Sounds like the brook trail would be better for kids!

04-14-2004, 09:56 AM
There used to be a trail to the west of the existing trail. It departed left from the existing trail at a scenic spot where the trail turns to the right. It scrambled over large boulders and then ascended a chimney of scree and loose rock, utilizing iron rungs in the headwall. Those rungs fell out in the 70's or early 80's and it was nearly impossible to get to the summit that way without rock-climbing skills. It was described as still passable in the Maine AMC guide that I used when I tried it in 1986. My husband called down, "Uh, I think we have to turn around!" I didn't believe him, but when I got there, it was very clear we weren't going any further. Regardless, it's a neat place to explore if you like that sort of scrambling.

I hope my memories are still accurate...

04-14-2004, 10:39 AM
That's correct Audrey. The Loop Trail also has a tricky spot that you need to ascend using a few rungs (long legs and arms help, too - which I don't have). I've heard that spot mistakenly called "the chimney" which has added to the confusion.

Yeah, the Brook Trail or the Parker Ridge Trail would be better for young kids.

04-14-2004, 11:09 AM
Thanks Audrey and Turnbill, that fills in the gaps in the info that I had. After doing most of my hiking in the Whites, I've gotten spoiled by well blazed and signed trails. So when I hiked this with my 12 yr old and found that we were ascending next to roped climbers near the top, I was starting to worry a little. It was also interesting to find the warning sign after reaching the top:rolleyes: On the way down we passed quite a few families that had no idea about the trail's degree of difficultly. A sign at the bottom would have helped.

All that said, a spectacular trail and mountain.

04-15-2004, 12:31 PM
Thanks for the report and the pics! I'm hoping to camp at the pond this weekend.

Brook trail or Little Jackson trail to Pond Link trail have my vote for kids.

I've seen adults turn back on the Parker Ridge trail. There are a bunch of places that require scrambling on the way up and dropping on the way down that make it interesting with a backpack.

It's my understanding that the Chimney trail (or whichever one is the treacherous one) is closed, but someone keeps putting the sign back up at the trailhead. I think it was last winter or the winter before someone had to be rescued on that trail.

beautiful area!

04-15-2004, 01:12 PM
Is camping restricted in this area at all. I understand the land was private but that it has now been acquired by the state. Anyone know what the state has in mind for managing the mountain?

04-15-2004, 01:30 PM
Last I knew the plan was Public Land although I don't see it listed on the website yet.
Camping has always been allowed, no fires allowed on top, although people have them. There's a huge camping area by the Parker Ridge/Little Jackson trails and an old lean-to.

04-21-2004, 07:38 AM
Great report, Turnbill! This is one of my favorite hikes. The difficult spot you talk about with the rungs is called "fat man's misery" -- aptly titled! It is a tight spot, no way to make it thru with a pack on, no matter what your size. On a lightly snowing day last November, I saw a huge group of kids going up thru it -- they were pretty miserable in their sneakers and wet jeans! I don't think the leaders knew what they were getting into....

Thanks again for the report and the pics!