Harris Mountain Hide-Away
In Maine, United States
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A 15-45 minute hike (depending on your hiking speed and physical ability) of 4/10 of a mile (as the crow flies) up Harris Mountain to where the Dixmont Fire Tower used to stand guard.
There are a couple of different ways to get to the top of Harris Mountain. Perhaps the easiest way is to take the Fire Tower Road off Rt. 7 at N 44.39.419, W 069.10.048 and then head up the gravel road (most vehicles should not have a problem with this road) until you reach N44.39.582, W 069.09.150 (just past the camp/house.) From there you need to head up the hill to where the Fire Tower used to be located.
While it is possible to do this cache by sled or ATV (I have done both) and the die-hard 4WD fanatic can get most of the way up the old Jeep trail I would personally recommend parking your vehicle at the bottom of the hill and hiking the rest of the way as there are some steep places on the trail (see Hiram357's log).
There isn't much of a view from the top . . . there was the remains of the Fire Tower, but it is now gone. However, there are some limited views on the walk back down the mountain to your vehicle. In the Winter, late-Fall and early-Spring the views should be even better when there is no foliage on the trees to block the view.
The Harris Fire Tower was a 50-foot wood beam Fire Tower that had a 15 x 15 foot "cab" on top. Originally located in Pennsylvania in the Allegheny National Forest it was taken down and moved to Dixmont in the 1940s. The Tower was staffed by Fire Tower "Watchmen" and Forest Rangers until sometime in the 1980s when the Forest Service began using airplanes to patrol Maine as they were cheaper and could cover more territory.
The Harris Mountain Fire Tower was known for being one of the few remaining all-wood Fire Towers in the eastern U.S. and Maine. Sadly, time, neglect and vandalism were not kind to this Tower as the cab was either forcibly removed or blew off the top of the fire tower and wood steps and platform boards were missing or rotten when I last visited this Tower in the Summer of 2006. Maine demolished the Tower in July 2006. A Fire Tower's Watchman cabin located nearby was removed several years ago.
One of my favorite memories of this Fire Tower was when my brother, a friend of ours and I decided to camp out on the 4th of July in the then-abandoned Fire Tower several years ago. We walked up the Jeep trail in the pitch black of late-evening and had just made our way into the cab when we started seeing the fireworks go off in Unity, Brooks and Belfast. Later that evening we were woken up when Mother Nature decided to have her own "fireworks" show with a spectacular thunder and lightning storm. There is nothing like being in a Fire Tower in a lightning storm and realizing you are the highest object for miles around. My kid brother wanted to go back down the mountain, but fortunately we convinced him that it would be much more dangerous to attempt to climb down the rain-slicked, wind-blown, steep stairs in the dark. We weathered that storm and all three of us were left with some great memories of that night.
There is a well at the top of the mountain. It is covered by a wooden cover which appears to be in good shape. However, I didn't really put the strength of this cover to the test by jumping up and down on top of it . . . so be careful. The well is located 30 or so feet past the cache.
As always please re-hide the cache as you have found it. This is especially important since this area is known for destructive muggles.
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- Harris Mountain Fire TowerHarris Mountain Fire Tower
Last Updated: on 9/4/2013 1:27:07 AM Pacific Daylight Time (8:27 AM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum