Bursting the Colby bubble

Looking to go on a short hike with a beautiful view of mountains and lakes? Colby is lucky to be located a sheer 20 minutes away from the Belgrade Lakes region. This region—which consists of the area surrounding North and East Pond, Salmon Lake, McGrath Pond, Long Pond, Great Pond, and Messalonskee Lake— has three hikes that offer optimal views with minimum effort, thanks to the efforts of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance (BRCA); a land and lake trust that protects the watershed.

Mount Phillip, which was acquired by BRCA in 2004, offers a short 1.4-mile loop up the mountain. The trail itself is surrounded by a grove of tall mature pine trees, hardwoods, hemlocks and evergreens. Although the hike is short, the last section of the trail features a steep incline. The view of Great Pond to the south and the Kennebec Highlands to the west makes the climb worth it. The trailhead for Mount Phillip is located directly across from Starbird Lane in Rome.

In 1998, BRCA acquired a parcel of land known simply as “The Mountain.” This hike—which is located on Mountain Drive in Rome—is a 1.6-mile loop that offers beautiful views of Long Pond while walking on the steep cliffs of the mountain. In addition to the main loop, there are several shorter trails on each side which can be used to make your hike longer or shorter. One of these loops—the Great Pond Loop—winds through a glacial boulder field.

The shortest hike—yet also the one that offers the most rewarding views—is the French Mountain trail, a 0.8-mile loop that offers stunning views of Long Pond and Whittier Pond. From French Mountain, you can also view the aforementioned Mount Phillip to the northeast and The Mountain to the north. Turkey vultures typically roost at the peak of French Mountain and are often seen by visitors. French Mountain is located on Watson Pond Road in Rome.

If you want any more information, the BRCA website offers detailed maps of each of these trails, in addition to maps of their other trails at Round Top and Sanders Hill. Don’t be afraid to go out and explore beautiful central Maine. After all, it’s important to spend some time outside before it’s too cold to do so. And a mere 20 minute drive from campus, the lakes are almost impossible to miss on a fun, warm autumn afternoon.