An essential tool for hiking enthusiasts, the newest edition of the “AMC Maine Mountain Guide” features more trails than ever before. Compiled and edited by avid hiker Carey Kish of Mount Desert, the 11th edition of the guidebook describes more than 625 trails on 300 Maine mountains.
“The thing is just beefy,” Kish said. “It really surprises even me.”
Appalachian Mountain Club published its first edition of the guide in 1961, and the resource has been updated and expanded periodically ever since. The new edition will be released Aug. 7.
“Everyone’s going to ask, ‘What’s new? Why buy this one?’ At least, I would ask that,” Kish said.
For starters, the new edition features more than 175 “new” trails on 50 mountains that were not included in the previous edition of the guidebook, published in 2012 and also edited by Kish. Also, old trail descriptions have been improved, Kish said, and some sections of the book have been completely overhauled with new information.
The new edition also features updated fold-out trail maps for Baxter State Park, the Maine North Woods, the Bigelow Range, Camden Hills, Mount Desert Island and the Mahoosuc Range. And for the first time, the guidebook features 17 in-text trail maps of other areas that have a high density of trails.
Kish also rewrote the introductory section of the book, which includes informative, succinct essays on a wide variety of hiking-related topics, from fire towers and poison ivy to the state’s geology, climate and vegetation.
“Why have a guidebook if you can’t give people some perspective on where they’re going and why they’re doing it?” Kish said.
A registered Maine guide, Kish grew up exploring the Maine woods and has completed some two-dozen long-distance trails in the United States, Canada and Europe, including the 2,189-mile Appalachian Trail — twice. In addition to two editions of “AMC Maine Mountain Guide,” Kish is the author of “AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast,” and he’s a longtime columnist for the Portland Press Herald and writes the outdoor adventure blog “Maineiac Outdoors” at MaineToday.com.
“I’m a longtime detective — a trail detective,” Kish said. “Seriously. I just keep looking. I take notes. I follow Facebook and search the internet. I’m always looking to see if there’s something new, and this time around [in writing the 11th edition of the “AMC Maine Mountain Guide”], I just couldn’t believe it.”
When asked to give a few examples of the new content in the 590-page guide, Kish instantly thought of Deboullie Public Reserved Land in Aroostook County, where the Maine Conservation Corps has been hard at work creating trails in recent years.
“The Maine Conservation Corps got in there and now there’s 30 miles of trails, just like that,” Kish said. “I spent three days hiking all 30 miles of trail two Septembers ago, and I was the only person up there. It’s like a little Baxter State Park with no people. It’s out of this world. There’s backpacking and car camping and no people. It was kind of creepy actually.”
Another trail added to the new edition of the guide is the unofficial herd path (not marked or maintained) that runs from the summit of South Crocker Mountain to the top of Mount Reddington. Though it’s not an official trail, Kish felt it was important to include in the guide because so many hikers use the path each year to bag Redington, which is one of Maine’s 4,000-footers (mountains that reach 4,000 feet above sea level or higher) and top 100 tallest mountains.
The new Rainbow Loop Trail, which officially opened last July in Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area, is another addition to the guide, as are the trails in the new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and the little-known Number Five Mountain in Somerset County.
“It’s an extraordinary hike,” Kish said of Number Five Mountain. “It has an old fire tower trail, and it was on private land before so it was never in the book.”
The mountain and trail are now located on The Nature Conservancy’s 16,934-acre Leuthold Forest Preserve, where public recreation is free.
In addition to exploring dozens of new trails for the guidebook, Kish revisited trails described in past editions of the guide to update and improve descriptions. For example, he spent three days documenting the extensive trail network on Mount Agamenticus in southern Maine, and he spent another two days wandering Bradbury Mountain State Park, which features a small but popular mountain, surrounded by a network of trails that see heavy use year round.
“God I love my wife because pretty much any time we’re going out anywhere I have a notebook, camera and GPS,” Kish said.
In the acknowledgments section of the book, Kish thanked his wife and frequent hiking companion, Fran Leyman, and more than 200 others who directly contributed to the guidebook. And he dedicated the book to Alan Hutchinson (1947-2017), who helped conserve more than 1 million acres of working forestland in Maine’s North Woods during his 20 years as the executive director of the Forest Society of Maine.
“It’s really important to get information from sources all over the state because I can’t be everywhere,” Kish said. “There are a lot of folks who did a lot of good work to make this possible.”
In celebration of the new guide, Kish will be giving slideshow presentations throughout the state for months to come. Upcoming book events include a presentation aboard the steamboat Katahdin, starting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 15, at the Moosehead Marine Museum in Greenville; a 6:30 p.m. presentation on Tuesday, Aug. 28, at the Belfast Public Library; and a 6:30 p.m. presentation on Thursday, Aug. 30, at Epic Sports in Bangor. To stay up to date about upcoming events, follow Kish’s Facebook page, Facebook.com/careykish.
The book, which retails at $23.95, will be sold at many bookstores and outfitters throughout Maine, and it’s already available for purchase through the AMC online store at https://amcstore.outdoors.org.
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