Island Falls dedicates new hiking trail

4 years ago

ISLAND FALLS, Maine — With the fall colors in full autumn splendor, the town of Island Falls celebrated the grand re-opening of its historic Robinson Mountain Hiking Trail Saturday, Oct. 5.

“We did a lot of maintenance during the summer,” Town Manager Jutta Beyer explained. “We had a number of volunteers, as well as the ATV Club (Island Falls Free Wheelers) who helped out.”

Trailwork included widening the path to allow utility terrain vehicles to have greater access, installing signage and clearing some of the more difficult tree roots and branches that could prove hazardous.

Staff Photos/Joseph Cyr

The 4.5-mile trail is categorized as being “intermediate” on the difficulty scale. Although there are not any steep cliffs to scale, there are a few spots that could prove tricky for some individuals. The trail technically ends with a picnic area and views of Upper Mattawamkeag and Pleasant lakes.

The true gem of the trail, however, has hikers going an additional half-mile past the picnic area to the peak of Robinson Mountain. From there, hikers can get a breathtaking panoramic view of Mount Katahdin and Mount Chase.

On a clear day, hikers can see all the way to Danforth from one side of the mountain, and to Millinocket on the opposite side.

According to Beyer, the trail (and the mountain) is named after Maj. George Robinson, a former resident in Island Falls in the 1800s. 

Becky Drew, one of Island Falls’ local historians and the town’s librarian, said Robinson was a member of the 8th Maine Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. He is perhaps best remembered for his role in stopping a co-conspirator of John Wilkes Booth from assassinating Secretary of State William Steward on April 14, 1865. For his heroic efforts, Maj. Robinson became a clerk in the War Department and in 1871 he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

In the past, the mountain was known as “May Mountain” and even included a ski area with rope tows. According to the website, May Mountain ski area operated as a surface lift facility for about a quarter of a century from the 1960s to 1990s.  At its peak in the 1970s, the mountain had seven trails and two slopes with a clubhouse.