Pass under the gate and follow the gravel road. The trail ascends gradually, staying on the main gravel road. At approximately 1.5 miles on the left is the former spring house for the once-famous Moontide Spring – take an opportunity to sample the water from the overflow pipe that empties on the right side of the road. Continue for another 0.5 mile to where the trail leaves the gravel road on the left (sign) and continues steeply for another 0.5 mile to a nearly treeless summit.
From the summit, the long views of Rumford and the surrounding foothills make it an obvious place for the fire tower that was once here.
Long regarded as one of the Northeast's most unusual natural landmarks because of the cyclic fluctuations in its flow, the Mount Zircon Spring was officially opened to the public in the 1850s by a branch of the same marketing-savvy family who started the Poland Spring resort. Before long, there was a 50-room hotel on the spot, accessed by a county road. Now all that remains is a springhouse, and of course, the spring, whose medicinal properties may help get you up the steep section of trail to the summit. Although the gravel road passes through land owned by the Mount Zircon Water Company (now part of Poland Spring Water company, whose corporate parent is Nestle), the current landowner of the spring and much of the surrounding land is the Rumford Water District. The RWD started 100 years ago by building a large dam to create the Mount Zircon Reservoir, which included the outflow from the famous spring.
The 60-foot steel fire tower on the summit was built in 1922, along with a watchman's camp down near the gravel road. The camp was burned and the tower cut down and left in place in 1975.
There are three history-oriented geocaches on this hike.
For more information contact:Rumford Water District
The trailhead is at a gated gravel road on South Rumford Road. From the west, the trailhead is 6.2 miles from ME Route 232. From the east, the trailhead is 3.2 miles from US Route 2 in Rumford. Turn on to the dirt road and park on the shoulder before the gate. Don't block the road. The trail follows the gravel road beyond the gate.
From the Rumford Information Center parking lot, turn left and proceed to the top of the hill. Turn left on to the South Rumford Road, crossing the river on the high bridge and proceed 0.9 mile to a fork. Bear right at the fork and continue for 2.2 miles to where Hall Hill Road comes in from the left. The trailhead is approximately 100 yards beyond this point at a gravel road between two houses. It is marked by a pipe gate and a Rumford Water District sign. An alternative parking spot is the pull-out at the former site of the Mount Zircon Spring Water Company 100 yards east along the South Rumford Road.
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