Horse Mountain is the first trail head you’ll find after entering Baxter State Park through its quieter north entrance. After several years of going to Baxter State Park, this was my first time entering through the north entrance, so I figured I would do the first trail on the map. The trail head for Horse Mountain is easy to miss, as its just a few spaces for vehicles on your left about a half mile from the entrance. If there aren’t any spaces, there are plenty of other trails a short distance down the road.
The hike is pretty easy and gradually ascends for 1.2 miles to a junction where you can can take a left and hike 0.3 miles to the East Spur Overlook. The park ranger told us that the views are much better at the overlook so we took that left and never bothered going to the peak after enjoying the great views at the overlook of Traveler Mountain, Grand Lake Matagamon below us, and the distant mountains in Aroostook county. It was extremely quiet at the overlook, and my wife and I stayed for a while, taking pictures and watching a hawk glide gracefully in the air above us. At the junction for the East Spur Overlook, it looks like another junction is just ahead where you could take a right for the summit of Horse Mountain, and/or continue straight to go down the other side of the mountain and connect to Five Ponds Trail for a much longer hike.
We also drove farther down the road to check out South Branch Campground and scope out the tent sites. We plan on staying there for a weekend next summer. Other trails in the area that are on my list are Trout Brook Mountain, Middle Fowler Pond and South Branch Falls. And some day I would also like to conquer Traveler Mountain, which some say is even more difficult than Katahdin. For descriptions of 40 great hikes in Baxter State Park, pick up “Hiking Maine’s Baxter State Park” by Greg Westrich, and for information on camping, hiking and exploring Baxter State Park, check out Baxter State Park’s official website.