People come from near and far to see the tower at Mount Battie summit. This is actually a memorial tower for World War I that was built by Camden residents in 1921. Every year, locals who are part of the "Friends of the Mount Battie Tower", mount a large star on the face of the tower located at the summit of Mount Battie. The star is lit up from Thanksgiving to New Years every year. There is some conflicting information about the star online, but I think that is just because this is a complete volunteer effort so there isn't a set schedule per say.
Originally, I was going to plan a sunrise hike to see the star, however, it is run by a small generator. From what I have been told by some of the locals, the generator only runs for around 10-12 hours. This time of year, sunrise is around 7am so that wasn't going to work for what I was trying to do. I then decided to try for a Sunset hike. I loaded Brock up and we were on our way to Camden! It takes about an hour to get there from where we live. We did some shopping around town and headed for the trailhead. There are a few ways to get to Mount Battie and I chose one of the easier ways to head up while still feeling like you were doing a very light hike.
The Old Carriage Road is located off of Route 52 in Camden and is somewhat easy to find if you are looking for it. You park on the side of Route 52 and there are probably enough "spaces" for about 6 cars depending on length and after that you are truly going to be lined up on the side of the road and only true access to the road side part of your vehicle. If you have a dog and there is space, I reccommed parking in the section closest to the Old Carriage Road sign with the dog friendly plaque. There is a little more room to get out on both sides of the vehicle and it is fairly flat and you don't have to deal with possibly going down into the ditch.
The Old Carriage Road Trail is a great beginner friendly trail! It is well marked, not a huge amount of elevation gain but still leaves you feeling like you are on a "hike" instead of a roadway. There are roots and rocks and you do come to a section where you head right to stay on the trail towards Mount Battie instead of the tablelands trail. However, if you wanted to do a loop, you could certainly go down the tablelands trail and then cross back over and head towards the tower. You would then head back down the roadway and use the trail that is marked on your left. There are so many great trails in the Camden Hills Park!
There are currently a few trees down on the trail but nothing that makes navigation any harder. We have had quite a bit of rain lately so this trail did have quite a few water and mud sections but fairly avoidable. It is just about a mile of trail and then you hit the roadway where you can see a small glimpse of the tower which is somewhat hidden by trees. You head that way and enjoy the view. Brock and I were at the trailhead and started walking around 2:45pm and we were at the tower by 3:15pm. The weather wasn't too bad so it was nice to have the whole area to ourselves for a little while! This is very rare, but also one of the reasons I love visiting places like Camden, or even Acadia National Park in the Winter!
You can climb the Mount Battie tower using a really nice spiral staircase. However, with the star up there this time of year, pictures will probably have parts of the star in them. There are overlook sections along the roadway and at the summit so you can see out over Penobscot Bay and look over the town of Camden. Lights start to come on in the town around 3pm and once the sun begins to set, most of the town is fairly lit up. The generator for the star on the tower was started just before 4pm and there were a few young children there who were allowed to hit the switch to turn the lights on which was really nice.
Once the star was lit, we had our photo taken by an incredibly nice stranger and we headed for the car. Always remember to bring your headlamp, especially if you are planning a sunset hike. You can get some nice, yet inexpensive ones for $10 or less at Walmart if you're looking to carry one for just in case or short trip scenarios. The way back to the vehicle could get dangerous if you don't have a way to see the trail. (The flashlight app on your phone is not an ideal option.)
It was a full moon the night I was hiking this trail so it was fairly well lit. There was one spot that could have used a marker as it look like a split that had foot traffic on both sides. When you get to this section, keep to the left. You will see a trail marker not long after. We made it back to the trailhead in about 23 minutes. (We did do a little jogging once we got to the straight stetch at the end).
If you have visited the Mount Battie tower in the summer, surrounded by tourists, I highly recommend taking the time to visit in the winter. You can actually enjoy the space and when the star is lit, it feels like such a magical place! So far, there has been minimal snow accumulations in the region so the gate will be open until January 1st to drive up to see the lighting of the star. Quite a few of the locals had parked at the end of the roadway and just walked up the length of the road to the tower. Walking up from the road is great alternative to the Old Carriage Road Trail if you would like to walk up but don't want to deal with the possible dangers of rocks and roots on a trail.
If you are looking for a magical, festive experience, I highly recommed visiting the Mount Battie tower at dusk during the holiday season!
Happy Hiking and Holidays,
-Amanda and Brock
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