Difficulty: Moderate. The 0.8-mile trail climbs up a steep slope to an open ledge that’s about 1,290 feet above sea level. During the hike, your total elevation gain will be a little more than 500 feet. Expect uneven terrain, including exposed tree roots and a few rocky areas. The hike is out and back, making for a total distance of 1.6 miles.
Information: With a steep, rocky face facing the Androscoggin River, Glass Face Mountain is a distinctive landmark in Rumford Center, rearing up behind the village’s historic steepled church and cemetery. Navigating up this mountain’s steep slopes, a 0.6-mile hiking trail leads to an open ledge on its south side that offers a view of the Androscoggin River valley.
Marked with bright yellow blazes, the trail is known as the Glassface Ledges Trail. It’s owned and maintained by the Mahoosuc Land Trust, a nonprofit that has worked to conserve more than 8,000 acres in western Maine.
Starting at the edge of a cemetery, the trail enters a mixed forest and starts by climbing up a gentle slope on the mountain’s south side. In this section of the hike, you’ll cross small brooks and pass through an open area (perhaps from a recent harvest) where a variety of plants grow.
As the trail climbs, the terrain becomes more uneven. Rock steps will help you climb some of the steep areas. In addition, the trail switchbacks, or zig-zags back and forth. This is a common design that trailbuilders use to make a trail more gradual on a steep grade.
The last section of the hike includes plenty of interesting boulders and rock formations in a mostly hardwood forest. Notice how many of the rocks sparkle with mica, a glass-like mineral that is common in the region.
The trail ends at an open ledge that’s about 1,290 feet above sea level. In comparison, the mountain itself tops off at 1,882 feet above sea level, according to Delmore’s Maine Atlas and Gazetteer. From the ledge, the summit lies to the north and is not reachable by trail.
From the ledge, you’ll be rewarded with an open view of the Androscoggin River and layers of mountains to the south and west, including the ski slopes of Mt. Abram Ski Area.
Use of the trail is free. Dogs are permitted but must be under voice command or on leash. For more information, visit mahoosuc.org or call Mahoosuc Land Trust at 207-824-3806.
[A nearby hike: Rumford Whitecap Mountain in Rumford]
How to get there: Parking for Glassface Ledges Trail is located at Hastings’ Landing boat launch on Route 2 in Rumford Center, which is approximately 6 miles west of downtown Rumford. To find the trail, cross Route 2 and walk through the cemetery. A sign for the trailhead is located at the back of the cemetery on the right. Yellow blazes mark the trail, which veers to the right. Do not park in the cemetery.
During the winter, the boat launch may not be plowed. Also, it could be dangerous to park along the side of Route 2 due to heavy traffic and large snowbanks. In this case, it may interest you to know that Munchy’s, an eatery just down the road, is open year-round and will permit you to park in their plowed parking lot during the winter. Munchy’s is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and serves a wide range of food, from seafood to pizza. Grab a bite there before or after your hike. The establishment is located about 0.1 mile west of the trailhead.
Personal note: It was a little strange to start a hike in a snowy cemetery. Wearing snowshoes, I waded through the knee-deep powder on Jan. 9, navigating around half-buried headstones that dated back for generations. Glass Face Mountain rose in front of me, its rock cliffs and ledges bathed in late afternoon sun.
The temperature hovered in the low teens, and a stiff breeze added an extra bite to the cold. In an effort to stay warm, I stuffed chemical hand warmers in my mittens. I also added one to my jacket pocket with my cellphone to prevent the battery from dying. But I really didn’t need to worry. As I climbed the steep slope, my body temperature quickly rose. I actually started to overheat, so I unzipped my jacket and removed my mittens. Snowshoeing is hard work.
The trail was packed down, which told me that I wasn’t the only one to enjoy Glass Face Mountain in the winter. Throughout the hike, I stopped to inspect giant icicles hanging from boulders and animal prints trailing through the snow. Chickadees joined me for part of the way, singing their recognizable song: chicka-dee-dee-dee.
At the open ledge, I watched orange seep into the sky and the mountains turn deep blue as the sun sunk closer to the horizon. Eventually, I headed back down, descending the mountain quickly. Back in the cemetery, I paused to read headstones. I found a name I recognized, took a photo and sent it to a friend. It’s her ancestor, she told me. That’s one reason I love Maine. You don’t have to live here long to form connections all across the state, even in the smallest of villages. It just so happens that I’ve lived here my whole life. The connections seem endless.
For more of Aislinn Sarnacki’s adventures, visit bangordailynews.com/act-out. Follow Aislinn Sarnacki on Twitter: @1minhikegirl, and Instagram: @actoutdoors. Her guidebooks “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine,” “Maine Hikes Off the Beaten Path” and “Dog-Friendly Hikes in Maine” are available at local bookstores and wherever books are sold.