Rumford Whitecap Mountain

Mountain:  Rumford Whitecap Mountain (2214')
Trails:  Trail #1, Trail #2, Connector Trail
Region:  ME - Central Northwest  
Location:  Rumford, ME
Rating:  Moderate  
Features:  Summit, views, slabs, slab cave, loop hike
Distance:  Approximately 6.1 miles  
Elevation Gain:  Approximately 1500 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Actual: 3:45     
Outing Duration:  Actual: 6:30     
Season:  Fall
Hike Date:  10/16/2007 (Tuesday)  
Last Updated:  07/04/2010  
Weather:  Sunny, 40 degrees, windy
Author:  Webmaster

Mountain cranberry and reindeer lichen on summit slabs (photo by Webmaster) Route Summary   

This is a loop hike up Rumford Whitecap Mountain. The summit area consists of about 130 acres of open ledges beautifully interspersed with blueberry bushes and various conifers. There are excellent views in all directions.

  • Follow Trail #1 all the way to Rumford Whitecap's summit.
  • For the descent retrace your steps to a little below the open ledges and turn right to follow Trail #2.
  • At the next junction, bypass Trail #3 and instead jog a little to the left before turning right to continue along Trail #2.
  • Follow Trail #2 almost to its end, and then take a left onto Connector Trail.
  • Walk along the short Connector Trail until reaching its end where it bumps into Trail #1.
  • Turn right on Trail #1 which will quickly return you to the parking area.

Place         Split
Miles*
     Total
Miles*
     Split
Time
     Total
Time
    
Trail #1 Trailhead on East Andover Road 0.0 0.0 0:00 0:00
Jct. Trail #1/Connector Trail 0.3 0.3 0:10 0:10
Jct. Trail #1/Trail #2 2.0 2.3 1:22 1:32
Rumford Whitecap summit (2197') 0.5 2.8 0:20 1:52
Jct. Trail #1/Trail #2 0.5 3.3 0:15 2:07
Jct. Trail #2/Trail #3 1.0 4.3 0:37 2:44
Jct. Trail #2/Connector Trail 1.4 5.7 0:49 3:33
Jct. Trail #1/Connector Trail 0.1 5.8 0:04 3:37
Trail #1 Trailhead on East Andover Road 0.3 6.1 0:08 3:45
* Mileage is approximate

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Red Maple on Trail #1 (photo by Webmaster)



Trail #1 (photo by Webmaster)

Rocks and slabs on upper section of Trail #1 (photo by Webmaster)

Slabs and conifers on upper section of Trail #1 (photo by Webmaster)


Bark of red pine tree on upper section of Trail #1 (photo by Webmaster)

Upper section of Trail #1 (photo by Webmaster)

White quartz on summit slabs (photo by Webmaster)

Blueberry bush leaves on summit slabs (photo by Webmaster)
 

Map of hike route on Rumford Whitecap Mountain (map by Webmaster)


Trail Guide   

This hike to Whitecap Mountain in Rumford, Maine (a.k.a. "Rumford Whitecap") provided exceptional fall foliage, fabulous open ledges, and 360-degree views. Surprisingly, even though it was a gorgeous day, I didn't encounter any other people on the trails.

Although the trail up was not blazed, it was pretty easy to follow.

I took a different route down which started out with blazes, then ended up in a confusing logging area, then continued on an easy-to-follow trail without blazes. If you're not very good at finding routes, it would be safer for you to simply retrace your steps and take the same route down as you followed for the ascent.

Since this is a long trip report, I've divided it into two sections:

Ascent of Rumford Whitecap    |    Descent of Rumford Whitecap


View from summit slabs.  That's the Androscoggin River running through the valley in the background. (photo by Webmaster)


Ascent of Rumford Whitecap   

Foliage on Trail #1 (photo by Webmaster) Trail #1 starts across from the street from the parking area. There is a red gate across the wide trail with a footpath leading around the gate (there is no trail sign). The path started gently uphill and I quickly reached a trail register on the right.

In the registration box are registration pages, a hand-drawn map and a reminder that the trails on Rumford Whitecap are private property and so it is very important not to go off the trails or litter or do other things that will discourage private landowners from allowing the public to access the mountain.

Just after the trail register, bear left at dirt-road fork, then immediately bear left/straight onto a wide woods trail. Basically you're going pretty much straight and ignoring a couple dirt roads that go the right.

About 10 minutes from the trailhead, you'll encounter a signed junction. Most of the signs throughout this hike are in the form of narrow red arrows with white writing on them. This junction is signed "To Trail #2", indicating the Connector Trail that links the two trails leading from East Andover Road. We will be coming this way on the return trip but for now go straight to stay on Trail #1. Once back in the woods, you will immediately pass a snowmobile trail on the left but you should keep going straight.

The trail's incline was mostly on the easy side of moderate. The woods started out as mostly hardwood and colorful leaves adorned the trees. Wintergreen plants provided a nice splash of green among the fading leaves on the ground. The beginning of the trail was stony underfoot but there were also nice grassy sections.

About 0.4 mile after passing by the Connector Trail, there will be a wide trail going left; ignore this path and keep going straight. And 0.1 mile after that, bear left at a fork. There is a small cairn and a bit of pink survey ribbon clueing you into the correct branch to take.

Slabs on Trail #1 (photo by Webmaster) About a mile from the start of the trail was an easy brook crossing, followed a few minutes later by a smaller brook crossing. And just a bit after the second stream crossing were several pink survey ribbons leading off to the left (possibly a boundary marker, an old overgrown trail, or a new yet-to-be-cleared trail) . You should ignore these ribbons and keep to the obvious path.

And just a couple minutes later the trail forks. I followed the right-hand fork which looked less steep and in a few minutes I saw that the left-hand fork rejoined the main trail.

About a quarter mile after that the trail becomes slabs and then the deciduous woods are soon overtaken by conifers. There was a thin stream of water running down the center of the slabs. At this point, we are still in the woods; underfoot is continuous ledge but trees lodged in soil border the footway.

The slabs continue for about a half-mile. I stepped carefully around the wet areas and had no problems with slippage but between these slabs and the extensive ledges up above, I certainly wouldn't want to do this hike in wet or icy conditions.

There was some mica embedded on the slabs. When the sun hit it just right it looked like mirrors or sparkling diamonds. But in the shade it was barely discernable. It appeared to be flaky and almost clear. A strange kind of rock.

The trail alternates between woods and open ledges a few times and then you will reach a signed junction for Trail #2 on the left. We'll follow this route on the way down but for now keep going straight. At this point you are only about a half-mile from the summit proper but you will soon break out into the expansive ledges and will be mesmerized for the rest of the trek.

Start of open slabs on Trail #1 (photo by Webmaster)


As I broke out of the woods for the final time, I was delighted by extensive ledges peppered with pines and other conifers as well as low-growing blueberry bushes with stunning scarlet foliage. At first the ledges were mostly to the right of the trail. I was so enthralled with the shrubs and trees and expanses of rock that I had forgotten that this mountain is also well known for its views. As I gained a little more elevation, the views started opening up to the east.

Before you get too carried away with the sights, take a moment to look around and take note of where the trail goes (both directions) so that it will be easy to find the route upon your return. It's easy to get disoriented when there's so much open space so a short, deliberate survey of the surroundings from a navigational standpoint is a good thing to do. Basically the trail goes almost entirely straight all the way up to the summit, but as you get closer to the top, more and more ledges will appear on both sides of the trail.

Ring lichen on boulder alongside Trail #1 (photo by Webmaster)


There were also boulders and golden grass artistically scattered about the landscape. One boulder appeared to have been sliced in half with the flat part of one half facing the trail and the other half no where in sight. One dark-colored boulder nestled between grass and blueberry shrubs was spotted with ring lichen.

Farther along the trail, on the left was a big boulder about six feet tall. There were some slabs to the left of the boulder with birds hanging out in the trees. It had been gently windy during most of the hike up, but upon reaching these open areas I felt the wind more intensely. I took advantage of this somewhat sheltered alcove to put on a couple more layers.

View from summit slabs (photo by Webmaster) View from summit slabs (photo by Webmaster)


The trail ascended gradually over the slabs with the knobby summit in view for most of the way. Then there was a short steep pitch up to the summit proper and all along the winds were increasing. Upon reaching the summit, marked by a cairn, my hands and face were freezing and it was difficult to stand steady under the onslaught of the winds.

But the views were incredible and the foliage cloaking the surrounding hills and mountains was colorful. To the northeast, the next hill over with a communication on its top, is Black Mountain. Turning a bit to the right, Rumford and its paper mill is visible down in the valley. Continuing my rotation, I saw mountains in every direction. I took a bunch of photos and by the time I was done, my hands were like icicles.

I descended just off the knob and put on gloves and a neck gaiter and was much more comfortable. Then I started walking all around the ledges going to the edges to get even better views of sights that had enticed me from the summit.

Summit slabs are in the foreground; lower slabs are in the center (the ones that I believe I crossed on Trail #2 during the descent); and mountain views in the background (photo by Webmaster)


The Androscoggin River was visible to the south/east and there was a large, deep-blue body of water towards the north which enclosed a little island. There was another whole "set" of ledges visible towards the southwest. I believe that these are slabs that I ended up traversing on my descent while following Trail #2. In Andover, visible somewhere between the lower ledges and the big body of water was an array of large satellite dishes.

Low to the ground, crowberry was growing in places and white quartz, both loose and embedded in the slabs, was visible. Whenever possible in these ledgy environments, try to always step on the rock rather than the fragile vegetation. I eventually wound my way down to a sunny spot sheltered from the worst of the wind, to enjoy my lunch while taking in the broad views.
 
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View from summit slabs (photo by Webmaster) View of lake from summit slabs (photo by Webmaster)
 
Junction of Trail #1 and Trail #2 (photo by Webmaster)

Cairn with paint blaze on Trail #2 (photo by Webmaster)

Double paint blaze on Trail #2 indicating a change from slabs to woods (photo by Webmaster)

Brown lichen on upright ledges (photo by Webmaster)
  Descent of Rumford Whitecap   

After lunch while working my way back to the woods, I came across some mountain cranberry intertwined with reindeer lichen. Mountain cranberry has tiny green leaves, and of course deep maroon, "cranberry" colored berries.

I re-entered the woods to start my descent, then came to an open area where about three dozen cedar waxwings were roosting. They were on the branches of a pine tree and were all facing the same direction.

Cedar waxwings roosting (photo by Webmaster)


Soon after this I reached the trail junction for Trails #1 and #2. This junction is marked by two signs. One indicates that "E. Andover Rd." is straight ahead, and the other indicates that "Coburn Brook Rd." is to the right. If you want to go back down the same way you came up, then go straight. If you want to follow my descent route, then go right. Later there will be another trail junction which will allow me to return via trail to East Andover Road where I left my car.

So turning right, I was treated to, wow, trail blazes. The upper part of this trail is blazed in yellow paint. Depending on the terrain, the paint may be on cairns, slabs, or trees, but it's there and is often accompanied by survey ribbon (usually yellow). As is the custom, there were often double paint blazes when the trail changed direction or when it switched from slabs to woods. I was descending at the same time as the sun so it was a bit of a challenge to spot the next trail marker with the sun shining directly in my eyes.

Views of blueberry bushes, conifers, and mountains from Trail #2 (photo by Webmaster) Views of blueberry bushes, conifers, and mountains from Trail #2 (photo by Webmaster)


I was delighted to discover that this trail traversed a lot more ledges before finally entering the woods. The views were mainly to the west. The colors, views, and landscape here were just as stunning as they were on the summit ledges. The trail was well marked and meandered across the ledges and in and out of short spurts of woods.

About 0.8 mile after embarking on Trail #2, the trail entered some woods for a bit and then came back out to some steeply sloped slabs. Much to my dismay, I saw that the "trail" crossed these steep slabs. It looked quite intimidating and I envisioned myself tumbling down the hard rock. Although it looked scary, the crossing was really quite easy. The rock was nice and rough and I didn't slip at all.

Scary ledge crossing/descent (photo by Webmaster)


At the far end of the slab was a trail sign. I was hoping the trail would continue smoothly straight ahead, but instead there was a short, steep descent to get off of the slab, and then a bit more steepness to tackle, but with better footing. From the point of this sign and above is the "new" trail replacing the former route up to the summit from this side of the mountain. In fact while passing through some of the wooded sections, I could tell it was a new trail because the ground was soft and uneven, unlike the hard packed footway of long-traveled routes.

View of slabs from Trail #2 (photo by Webmaster) Shortly after this, you will reach another trail junction. You'll break out of the woods into a somewhat open area. Just before this opening was a sign indicating that Coburn Brook Road is to the right. This is Trail #3 and seemed to be pretty open and flagged with survey ribbon. To the left, the wide trail seemed to continue but be in a disused state. To continue on Trail #2, turn to the left for just a few steps, and then turn to the right and follow that footpath. There is a sign indicating "E. Andover Rd.". This sign is set back a little from the actual junction. And when coming from the other direction, there is a natural wood sign (unlike the standard maroon colored signs for this trail) indicating "SUMMIT" for the trail I just descended.

So I followed the footpath signed for East Andover Road which is a continuation of Trail #2. The trail wandered through the woods and then came out to yet, still more ledges before dropping down steeply back into the woods. At this point there was a neat slab cave to the left of the trail. It was long yet shallow. The trail then skirted the foot of a ledge and soon broke out of the woods into a logging area. This is where the blazes seemed to end for this trail.

I scouted around looking for more blazes but didn't find any. There were several logging roads. I decided to head down the road to the right which quickly made a hairpin turn towards the direction that seemed right to me (ignoring the road that forked off of this one to the right). After the hairpin turn, I saw a red sign at the foot of a steep ledgy area on the left indicating "peak"; so I was glad I took the gentle logging road around rather than finding that little very steep section of trail.

View of foliage from Trail #2 (photo by Webmaster) But with logging roads often comes mud and it was very muddy at this spot. I continued down the logging road, hugging the edges of the untouched vegetation so that I wouldn't sink calf-deep in mud. Then at a fork I bore right and the muddy logging road quickly became a lovely, dry, woods road trail.

Very soon after finding the unblazed woods road trail and hoping I was on the right path, I came upon another obstacle. A downed tree across the trail. It seemed like the easiest route would be to crawl under the tree. I took my pack off and dragged it behind me. After wrestling the pack straps free from the branches and looking back uphill, it seemed like it would have been easier to go around rather than under it.

The trail continued a steep descent for a short while and then was followed by a more comfortable easy/moderate slope. It was bordered by hardwoods and colorful leaves carpeted the ground.

About a half mile from where the woods trail began, down to the left, a brook running through a ravine came into view. And about a quarter mile after spotting the water, I saw the sign for the Connector Trail (the sign indicated "To Trail #1").

Grass and blueberry bushes on slabs next to Trail #1 (photo by Webmaster)


Continuing straight down Trail #2 would bring you out to East Andover Road about 0.1 mile north of the parking area, in about 15 minutes.

I turned left to follow the Connector Trail. There is a stair-ladder helping the hiker to descend into the ravine, then a nice footbridge to cross the stream, and then a short but steep scramble up the other bank.

The Connector Trail is short and narrow and runs in a pretty straight line. Ignore all the other trails branching off this path until reaching the sign at the junction with Trail #1. Then turn right onto Trail #1 and you should be back at the parking area in less than 10 minutes.
 
 
Slab cave along Trail #2 (photo by Webmaster) Trail #2 running at the base of a ledge (photo by Webmaster)
 


ME - Central Northwest

  View from Trail #2 (photo by Webmaster) Driving Directions   

The trailhead is located in Rumford, Maine.

  • From where Routes 2 and 5 split in Rumford, follow Rt. 5 north for 2.9 miles.
  • Turn right onto Andover Road and follow it for 0.4 mile.
  • Turn left onto East Andover Road and follow it for 0.1 mile.
  • A small dirt parking area will be on the left.
  • The trail starts across the street from the parking area, beyond the red gate.
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