Tumbledown Mountain and Little Jackson

This trail network accesses some of the most interesting features and most spectacular views of the Western Mountains Region of Maine.
Trail Activity
Length
10.6 miles, Network
Difficulty
Moderate, Advanced
Town
Township 6 North of Weld
Surface
Dirt/Forest Floor, Rock/Ledge
Pets
Permitted
Fees
No

Description

The Tumbledown Mountain and Little Jackson Mountain trail network is composed of six trails and two official trailheads and provides advanced hiking to some of the most unique features in Western Maine. Tumbledown Mountain is not the highest mountain in this area, but with three peaks, 700-foot cliffs and a pond (or mountain tarn) near the summit, Tumbledown stands out among its taller rivals.

Little Jackson Mountain is part of the same range as Tumbledown Mountain, but it is higher elevation and ledges offer a different perspective. From the 360-degree view on the summit one can see Saddleback and Sugarloaf to the north, Mount Blue and Webb Lake to the East and to the south, some 600 feet directly below the peak, Tumbledown Pond. Each trail may be explored separately as a day hike, although many experienced hikers prefer to string several trails together into a larger loop.

Each Trail section is described below including mileage, difficulty, points of interest along the way and its connecting trails. PLEASE NOTE: no fires are permitted here and pets must be on leash, to protect the fragile habitat along these trails. 

Brook Trail (1.9 miles, Moderate): This trail is the most direct trail to the pond and one of the easier trails in the network. Starting at the Brook Trailhead, the trail follows an old logging road for about a mile. After the road crosses Tumbledown Brook, turn right and follow the trail as it begins to closely parallel the brook. Just before the summit, the Brook Trail is joined from the right by the Parker Ridge Trail and shortly afterwards ends at Tumbledown Pond and the Tumbledown Ridge Trail.

Parker Ridge Trail (2.9 miles, Advanced): According to the Appalachian Mountain Club, this is the oldest trail to ascend Tumbledown Mountain. To gain access to this trail, leave from the Brook Trailhead and follow the Little Jackson Connector for 1.1 miles. At this point, the Little Jackson Mountain Trail will bear right; follow the Parker Ridge Trail towards the left. The Parker Ridge Trail gently climbs through second-growth forest for about a mile before rising steeply over three ledges and continuing on a steady ascent of Parker Ridge. Parker Ridge is a bare summit, allowing for views of Tumbledown Pond, Tumbledown Mountain, and Little Jackson Mountain, as well as views of Webb Lake and Mount Blue to the south and east. The trail continues along the ridge and rejoins the Brook Trail just short of Tumbledown Pond.

Loop Trail (1.5 miles, Advanced): This is the most difficult trail on Tumbledown Mountain. Because rock scrambling is an integral part of this trail, this is not an appropriate trail for novices, for less agile hikers, or for dogs. It is also easier to ascend this trail than to climb down. Its popularity, however, isdrawn from its unique features.

This trail begins at the Loop Trailhead and is the only trail leaving from this location. Rising gradually for the first mile, the Loop Trail has two stream crossings until it reaches a large boulder (Tumbledown Boulder). Above Tumbledown Boulder, the trail begins to rise steeply until it reaches the Great Ledges, a beautiful point with views of Tumbledown’s 700-foot southern cliffs.

Climbing further into a steep gully, the trail reaches Fat Man’s Misery, a narrow, chimney-like fissure in the mountain. Just above Fat Man’s Misery is a particularly steep climb; iron rungs assist the climber in some sections of this boulder scramble. At the end of this climb, The Loop Trail ends at the Tumbledown Ridge Trail.

Tumbledown Ridge Trail (0.7 miles, Connector): Starting at the outlet of Tumbledown Pond, this trail connects the ends of the Brook and Parker Ridge Trails with the end of the Loop Trail and, further on, the West Peak of Tumbledown Mountain. Along the way, the trail ascends the East Peak and then drops into a saddle where it intersects with the Loop Trail before a short quarter-mile final ascent to the West Peak.

Pond Link Trail (1.1 miles, Connector): Starting at the outlet of Tumbledown Pond, the Pond Link Trail follows the eastern shore of Tumbledown Pond before turning east along the ridge between Parker Ridge and Little Jackson Mountain. The Pond Link Trail ends at the Little Jackson Mountain Trail, just shy of that mountain’s summit.

Little Jackson Mountain Trail (3.7 miles, Advanced): The first 1.1 miles of this trail is called the “Little Jackson Connector” because it connects the Brook Trailhead with both the Parker Ridge Trail and the Little Jackson Mountain Trail. At the junction of the Little Jackson Connector and the Little Jackson Mt. trails, a blue sign indicates the start of the Little Jackson Mountain Trail. The trail rises steadily from this point. At the intersection with the Pond Link Trail, Little Jackson Mountain trail takes a sharp right (going straight will take you on to the Pond Link Trail). Approaching the summit, the trail traverses a series of ledges with great scenic overlooks towards the east. The bare summit facilitates a full 360-degree view of the Mahoosuc Range.

Other Information

Please keep your pets on leash to prevent further harm to the trail and the fragile ecosystem through which it passes. Fires are also prohibited here. 

For more information about the interesting geological features of Tumbledown Mountain and features visible form the trail, check out A Geological Tour of Tumbledown Mountain on the Maine Geological Survey's website. The dirt road between Byron and Weld is un-plowed during the winter and serves as a snowmobile trail.

Natural Heritage HikesNatural Heritage Hikes is a project of the Maine Natural Areas Program in partnership with Maine Trail Finder. View the "Tumbledown Mountain - Loop Trail, Tumbledown Ridge Trail, Brook Trail, Byron Road" or "Little Jackson - Little Jackson Trail" guides online here

LMF Logo

This trail passes through a property that was acquired in part with funds from the Land for Maine’s Future program. For more information about the LMF program and the places it has helped to protect, please visit the LMF webpage.

Trail Manager

Visit Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands online for more information or contact:

Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, Western Public Lands Office

Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, Western Public Lands Office
PO Box 327
Farmington, Maine 04938
Phone: (207) 778-8231
Tim.Post@maine.gov

Nearby Events

VIEW EVENTS CALENDAR

Trail Tips

Respect Wildlife
Avoid unwanted animal guests: store your food and trash securely and keep your camp clean of crumbs and spills.
Legend
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Trailhead Information

Loop Trailhead

From West: Starting on ME Route 17 in Byron (22 miles south of Oquossuc or 13 miles north of Mexico), take Dingle Hill Road over Coos Canyon and the Swift River and drive approximately 4.5 miles until you see a pullout and signs for the trail on the left. (Dingle Hill Road changes name and becomes first Weld Road and then Weld to Byron Road.)

From East: From the intersection of ME Routes 156 and 142 in Weld, follow ME Route 142 north 2.3 miles and turn left onto Byron Road. Shortly after the turn, Byron Road is unpaved; continue to follow Byron Road approximately 5.6 miles (past the Brook Trailhead) to the Loop Trailhead pullout which will be on the right. (Byron Road changes its name to Weld to Byron Road.)

Brook Trailhead

From West: Starting on ME Route 17 in Byron (22 miles south of Oquossuc or 13 miles north of Mexico), take Dingle Hill Road over Coos Canyon and the Swift River and drive approximately 5.8  miles (past the Loop Trailhead) until you see a pullout and signs for the trail on the left. (Dingle Hill Road changes name and becomes first Weld Road and then Weld to Byron Road.)

From East: From the intersection of ME Routes 156 and 142 in Weld, follow ME Route 142 north 2.3 miles and turn left onto Byron Road. Shortly after the turn, Byron Road is unpaved; continue to follow Byron Road approximately 4.3 miles to the Brook Trailhead pullout which will be on the right. (Byron Road changes its name to Weld to Byron Road.)

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Maine Trail Finder
May 30, 2019
Joanne,

We are glad you enjoyed Little Jackson. It is truly a wonderful hike! GPS distances can vary quite a bit. We checked in with the State Bureau of Public Lands maps and they list 3.7 miles, so we changed our posting to reflect that.

Happy Trails!

The Maine Trail Finder Team
Joanne Cole
May 29, 2019
On a fine Memorial Day, the Brook Trail parking area was full by 10 am and dogs were on the loose. Apparently everyone was hiking Tumbledown; we headed for Little Jackson instead via the connector trail and saw maybe six people in all.

The Little Jackson trail is interestingly varied--lots of early-season stream and brook crossings, some woods road, fir forest, rocky stretches--but not trivial. A tiring rough steep last pitch opens onto ledges at about 3 miles, according to my watch, with wonderful views toward Webb Lake. From there it's open ledges for less than a mile to the summit of Little Jackson - or so we hear. With lunch done, we continued up just far enough to get views to the west, then declared victory and headed back down.

Can somebody confirm the distance given here on Maine Trailfinder as 3.6 miles for Little Jackson summit, including the connector from Brook Trail parking (if I'm reading correctly)? We had almost 3.4 miles just to the ledges, with the summit still a good distance off. The Maine Mountain Guide has Little Jackson summit at 4.4 miles; that seems more accurate. :/
Maine Trail Finder
May 02, 2019
Steve Perry,

The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands does not maintain a designated trail between Little Jackson’s peak and Tumbledown Pond.

Happy Trails!

The Maine Trail Finder Team
Steve Perry
April 30, 2019
Several years ago, at the top of Little Jackson, I noticed something like “NORTH PEAK TRAIL” painted on rocks on the west side of the peak, pointing toward a rough trail. I followed that rough trail, and ended up near the back (north) side of Tumbledown Pond.

Is there an official trail from Little Jackson to North Peak of Tumbledown, passing by the north side of the pond???
Matt Frank
December 17, 2018
Hiked this mountain on 09-15-2018 and didn't see one piece of trash on the trail or in the pond. We've hiked it off and on for last 20 yrs and doesn't seem like the trail has changed much either. We went up brook trail and down loop trail, I recommend doing it in the opposite direction.
Great hike! Our favorite!
June Lewis
October 22, 2018
I am a hiker and a 4-wheeler. I disagree that the trash problem on the trails is due to snowmobilers and wheelers. While there are always a few jerks in any sport that will not act responsibly, I believe the majority of damage to the Tumbledown trails is from the high number of hikers. Easy access to just about anyone creates very heavy foot traffic from people, many of which do not see themselves as stewards of the land, but rather as consumers of the natural beauty which is there to serve their temporary needs (sight-seeing, picnic ground, swimming hole and potty). If you see people trashing the trail, say something.
Stephen Fernald
September 01, 2018
Wow. Soooo many people. Granted it is labor day weekend but in the decade I've been hiking these trails I've never seen as many people. I counted around 100. For an area this size it's a lot. I've noticed that the trails are "widening" due to folks straying. Trash on trailsides. Dogs off leash. Forest managers notice and it's not going to bode well if popularity rises and trends continue. Folks don't realize how delicate the ecosystem is. I could see debris at the bottom of the pond from the little Jackson trail. This sucks.
Valentine Isgro-Desplat
May 27, 2018
Hiked on May 20th 2018.
My husband and I went up on the Brook Trail, then on the Pond Link Trail and finally down the Loop Trail. The Brook Trail was very nice going up, not too hard at the beginning and the last 15min ask for more strength but like everybody said, it is more than worth it! Going down though the Loop trail was challenging, yet nice too. I agree that it might be difficult for short people, especially through the rocks with the metal ladder. By doing that loop we needed to walk back to the parking spot and that took us about 25min.
Scott Yonts
October 14, 2017
This has been our favorite Maine trail(s) for years. It has definitely become a lot more popular in recent years. The parking areas are usually full pretty early in the morning, but it's not a problem to park along the road. Most people visiting seem to go up and down the Brook Trail, with more adventurous visitors going up the Loop Trail and down the Brook Trail. I'd recommend going up the Parker Ridge Trail. Not only are there far fewer hikers here, but this trail rises above the lake before it gets there, and opens up to a stunning vista of the lake, Tumbledown Mountain, and the surrounding valleys. It's tough to beat that view. Also, for those looking for something less intense, while the Brook Trail and Parker Ridge Trail both involve some rock scrambling near the top, the Pond Link Trail is more mellow, the tradeoff being that it's a longer route.
Henry Blau
September 24, 2017
There's a comment about the damage and utter disrespect for the trails, access and future of this mountain being a result of atv or snowmobilers. As a local resident I can assure you that the graffiti on the rocks, the damaged outhouse and other trail damage occurs from our "wonderful" hiking visitors, not the motorized recreationalists. They are causing other issues. Folks who have zero respect for the places they use. The ones whose burn pits and camping trash or used toilet paper is left for others to experience or deal with. Carry in, carry out and tread lightly apply here. Respectful use of property. Tumbledown is not your trash can. I have hiked here for nearly 50 years and over the past few have seen things go from trail wear to trash, damage, trail locations that look and smell like an outhouse and this year more graffiti. It's appalling. Smarten up folks! And this venting really doesn't apply to the folks who past here, I'm confident that you enjoy and respect this privilege as much as I.
terry ionta
September 14, 2017
Recently hiked Little Jackson Trail to Pond Link Trail and down Parker Ridge-which we do often. This is a really, really nice and fairly easy route with big payoff in scenery and small crowds I hesitate to say that we started at Morgan Rd because it seems to be still fairly undiscovered. I fear the day we can't find a spot to park here but I'm sure its coming. The crowds, trash and general carnival atmosphere in and around the pond is getting worse. Trees being torn down, bark stripped off birch trees for kindling, trash and noise. I expect this sort of behavior from the snowmobile/4 wheeler crowd-but not from hikers.
William Van Twisk
September 06, 2017
After rains the day before, Loop Trail on Sept. 4 was prob more challenging than usual, esp for shorter adults less able to span and scramble. We saw couple parties w dogs, and think these should be prohibited from this trail, as well as a strong discouragement to descending on this trail--crazy! Descending via Brook Trail was also v. tricky on upper section, trail v worn w lots sharp rocks n slippery roots. Saw a dozen dogs, maybe 1 on a leash. These are real climbing trails, wear proper shoes/boots. The walk on road back to Loop Trailhead (1.3 mi, 250' higher) is a real drag, get a ride if you can. Overall, a worthwhile hike! Want to explore Parker next.
Daniel M
August 15, 2017
The Brook Trail is an excellent hike for a family. The upper portion of the trail provides a good challenge, but our 6-year-old managed it with ease and our 4 year old was able make it without too much difficulty, just needing a hand in a few spots. Coming down the Brook trail can be a bit treacherous if the rocks are wet, but it wasn't too bad for a young family.

The views and Tumbledown Pond on top are absolutely amazing! Such a great reward at the top.
Laura Casey
July 18, 2017
While I love this mountain range, I hate to hike it as the crowds have become ridiculous as well as the disrespect for Leave No Trace (LNT) principles on this trail.

If you are visiting (from Maine, from away, tourist, etc) PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL OF THESE TRAILS!!!

We are at the point where the entire range is going to be CLOSED because people can't respect BASIC common sense rules.

There are no fires authorized on Tumbledown, but there are fire rings and social media pictures everywhere of campers with fires. Dogs are now required to be on leash, yet we see pictures of dogs running loose on the peaks. Trails are destroyed, disgusting things like excrement on the floor in the privy that the public land PROVIDES FOR EASE.

Rangers now patrol the trails and peaks on a daily basis with talk of overnight camping (to start) ending and the peaks quickly following behind.

Read the signs people, show up prepared, be respectful and follow the rules...or this range WILL go away for hiking.
Andrea Libby
June 16, 2016
There's a very protective hawk that's nesting about 3/4 mile to a mile into the Little Jackson trail that dive-bombed me for about 20 minutes yesterday. Please be cautious.
Todd Zukowski
December 09, 2015
My daughter and I took the day off to do some hiking. So we decided to go back to Tumbledown Mountain. We took our dog, so we decided to go up and down Brook Trail. It was a beautiful day and we only saw one person- oddly enough it was someone I knew from Portland- small world. On our way up we were joined by two dogs - local dogs according to their tags- they were great hiking companions. Has anyone run into these dogs up there? One was named Dixie "Trail Dog" and the other was nambed Badger. They stayed with us the entire way up and down. This is a great hike, It is just fantastic up top.
Joanne Cole
September 02, 2015
We hiked the Brook Trail to Tumbledown Pond and back on a late-summer Sunday afternoon. Lovely, refreshing swim as a reward - maybe a dozen folks scattered around the pond perimeter, all cheerful and respectful of others. We do suggest water shoes for the swim if you have them: better for negotiating slippery subsurface rocks and the odd bits of broken glass. :(

As others have said, the Brook Trail is much easier than the Loop Trail but still not trivial: longish rocky stretch where you must take care about your footing, followed by a root-filled stretch, and finally a steeper, clambering stretch. We hiked Old Speck a couple of days later and were struck by how much easier the trails were underfoot - very different experiences just across the notch from each other.
JessicaMcGreevy
July 03, 2015
I agree with the previous comments that this might be on the advanced side of a moderate hike. This hike felt like an extremely long 1.9 miles, but the reward at the top was definitely worth it. I hiked to the top with a 3-year old strapped to my back (my husband walked down with her) and there was one moment when I had to take her out of her pack to scramble up a rock and then pass her up the steep part. The views at the top are gorgeous. We hiked on the Friday before the 4th of July and the trail was packed with hikers. I'd estimate that we saw more than 50 hikers and a dozen (all well behaved) dogs.
ChrisNason
September 18, 2014
Though described as a "moderate"-level hike, the Brook Trail is an example of one word meaning different thing to different people. The first half of the trail is over an old rock-strewn logging road. The trail here is wide and pretty easy to negotiate. You cross a few small drainage runoffs, but nothing of any consequence. Once you're past the half-way point, things get a bit more serious. Get ready to scramble over rocks as the ascent gets steeper and narrower. We're not talking serious rock climbing here, but you will have to negotiate clusters of rocks and small boulders as you make your way to the top. You'll need your hands free to grab a rock or tree or root to pull yourself up or around. This is where a decent pair of hiking shoes is useful. To casual hikers this may seem daunting, but the payoff is worth it. At the top of Tumbledown is Tumbledown Pond and a fantastic view of the surrounding valley and nearby peaks.
ElizabethMacMaster
August 05, 2014
Tumbledown Mountain is my favorite hike to date! I always hike up the Loop Trail, which is steep and challenging and features Fat Man's Misery, and then back down the Brook Trail. Wouldn't recommend going down the Loop Trail or taking pets or small children. 360 degree view at the top!

Trail Alerts

Ecology
Fragile Alpine Vegetation
This trail passes an area containing rare and fragile alpine plants, some of which grow on exposed rocks or in rock crevices. Please stay on trails and avoid stepping on plants or disturbing shallow soils. Please keep your pets on leash.
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