The trail along Reed Brook near Kingfield offers splendid views. Credit: Courtesy of Sarah Sindo

Due to the seasonality of my work, I always have some time off during the second half of April. Usually I have something penciled in my calendar for the much welcomed time off. However, this vacation my calendar remained blank.

During March, I thought about all the places I’d like to visit and people I’d like to see. I haven’t hopped on a plane since before the pandemic, so I thought now might be the time to finally visit my brother out in Oregon. Or maybe I’d take a solo trip and soak up the southwestern Utah sunshine. My grandfather lives in upstate New York, I could visit him. So many options! I couldn’t make up my mind.

Ultimately, I decided to save the money and be homebound. The short, and boring, answer is I saved the trip money to put toward house projects. I thought, “This is OK. I’ll hang around, get yard work done, and explore new hikes and mountains.”

Upon returning home from a short, two-night stay with family in Boothbay, I relished in the slow-paced days at home with my dog, made lots of home-cooked meals, and sat outside on the deck. It was as if my body and mind could finally feel at ease and relax after a busy winter season. I had no idea how much I needed that time to do nothing and rest.

After feeling like I finally got somewhere with the yard raking, I decided to take advantage of a beautiful sunny morning and explore two local hiking trails: West Mountain Falls near Sugarloaf Mountain and Reed Brook located near Kingfield.

Caption: Left to right, West Mountain Falls near Sugarloaf Mountain was raging after recent rain and spring melt. Reed Brook Falls near Kingfield is a must-see in the springtime. Credit: Courtesy of Sarah Sindo.

Leaving Kingfield, I headed north on Route 27 toward Sugarloaf Mountain in search of West Mountain Falls. Just before arriving at the golf course, I parked in a small lot on the right side of the road. I crossed the road and found the start of the trail. It was a short distance to the falls, about a half-mile. So it’s a handy option if you only have time for a quick stroll.

There was still snow present on the shaded trail but it was easy to navigate. Due to recent rain and spring melt, I could hear the raging river well before it came into view. I imagined river access would be easier in the summer when the flow is calmer and the rock hopping isn’t as slippery. Still, I managed my way to the river’s outline to grab a couple photos and watch the rushing waters of the south branch of the Carrabassett River.

I walked back to my car and retraced my way south on Route 27. I pulled into Carrabassett Veterinary Services and, off to the left, found the parking lot for the Reed Brook hike. By now it was late morning and the sun was high in the sky. The first 100 yards or so, the trail meandered through a clearcut area, which allowed the sun to warm my face.

Soon, I was in the thicker woods and alongside Reed Brook. My favorite time to walk through any woods is in the morning or late afternoon. This particular late morning, the sun spilled through the forest in such a mystical way. The light illuminated one tree while the tree next door remained shaded in the dark. Each moss-covered rock shined the most vivid green thanks to the sun rays and each one caught my attention.

Caption: Left to right, Rocks carpeted with brilliant green moss were around every corner during a hike to Reed Brook Falls near Kingfield. These are the signs that will greet visitors at the trailhead for the hike to Reed Brook near Kingfield. Credit: Courtesy of Sarah Sindo

The swollen brook was so full of life that I, too, quickly felt the same way. The rush of water over each section of rocks morphed into a mini waterfall that lured me slightly off trail and to the water’s edge. I became so mesmerized watching and listening to the brook. But I remembered the waterfall I had yet to see. Back to the trail!

I caught a glimpse of the falls up ahead and the sound of rushing water became intense. Again, due to recent rains and snow melt, the waterfall was impressive. A torrent of water came cascading over the wide rock ledge and plunged numerous feet to a pool before flowing downward into the brook. The mist from the spraying water hit my face and was quite refreshing.

I enjoyed a snack, snapped a couple photos and backtracked my way along the brook back to the parking lot.

The hikes I went on that morning were a reminder to me. Hiking doesn’t always translate into scaling mountainsides and reaching summit signs. Heading into this vacation time, that’s what my mind was telling me to go for. But my physical self led me to something more subdued.

To be honest, I felt just as much fulfillment as if I found myself on a summit that morning.

Exploring and hiking can take many shapes and forms. You can travel a dirt road to a trailhead or you can walk out your front door and take a stroll around your neighborhood. Seek out a local hiking trail book from your library or spark up a conversation with a local. You might be surprised at what’s waiting for you just around the corner.

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Sarah Sindo, Outdoors contributor

Sarah Sindo was locally grown in Millinocket. Her love and appreciation for the outdoors took off after college when she hiked numerous mountains with her brother, Nick, including her first ascent of Katahdin....