One of the wonderful parts about living in the Portland area is that it does not take long to escape the city and find yourself along the mountainous western border with New Hampshire. Pleasant Mountain sits about an hour and fifteen minutes to the Northwest in the town of Denmark.
Pleasant Mountain stands about 2,006 feet tall and is somewhat isolated from other mountains in the region. The peak provides wonderful views of Mt. Washington to the West on a clear day. A hotel once stood at the peak from 1873 to 1907. There is currently a fire tower at the top.
The Southwest Ridge Trail takes you to both the Southwest Summit (1.7 miles) and the Main Summit of Pleasant Mountain (2.9 miles). Follow the yellow blazes from the parking lot and hike along very the very quiet and secluded trail up the mountain. Find open ledge views after about a half mile of climbing, passing a wooden teepee at the Southwestern summit. Continue along the trail until it meets up with the Ledges trail at 2.7 miles, and follow it up to the Main Peak.
What Makes It Great
The forests along the peak are still relatively young after the entire mountain was burned in 1860. As a result, the trails are sprinkled with open ledges and beautiful views of the tree-covered Maine and New Hampshire wildernesses. As mentioned above, hikers will also be rewarded with views of Mt. Washington from the peak if the weather cooperates. If you know your plants, wild Maine blueberries are abundant in the summertime. But be sure you know it is a blueberry before eating any kind of berry.
Who is Going to Love It
Most people will enjoy the climb up Pleasant Mountain. It can be steep in parts, but the quiet woods and well-maintained trails make it a great escape from civilization. If time is limited, cutting the hike short at the Southwestern Summit still provides a great climb and gorgeous views of Beaver and Moose Ponds.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The trailhead for the Southwest Ridge Trail up Pleasant Mountain is located 3.4 miles down Denmark Road. No permit or parking fee are required. Other potential trails for Pleasant Mountain include the Firewarden’s Trail (2.5 miles) and the Ledges Trail (1.8 miles).
It is important to keep in mind that the Southwest Ridge trail climbs about 2,000 feet in just under 2 miles to the Southwestern Summit because of an almost sea level start. While you do not need to be in exceptional shape to complete the hike, be aware that the climb is fairly strenuous. The other two trails will also climb nearly 2,000 feet in a very short distance as well.
Be sure to carry plenty of water as there is not a good water source along the way. Dogs are permitted on the trails. A small storm shelter is located fairly close to the main peak of Pleasant. Weather changes quickly in the mountains, so be aware of the weather and carry rain gear with you.