By Kim Nilsen
The Deer Mountain Firetower Trail has been fully restored now for a few years. In far-flung country about four miles from the Canadian border and reaching the old fire lookout tower infrastructure on the north summit, the reworked trail is a very pleasant two-mile climb in mixed and boreal forest to the tower. But, alas, it’s a one way trip. The Cohos Trail Association would like to change that, and create an extension that would create a loop hike and a thru-trek for all Cohos Trail trampers.
This past summer, new board member Kevin Lacasse spent some time on the northeast flank of the mountain trying to locate the abandoned Jeep lane that once climbed to the long decayed watchman’s cabin on the mountain. In scrambling around on the peak, he located the wreck of long-lost Piper Cub plane that crashed in the 60s and found portions of the Jeep route. That old way reaches Sophie’s Lane several miles up the valley from where the Firetower Trail gets its start.
Because there is considerable interest in the tower and in finding an easy route from the northeast, the association would like to develop a comprehensive plan this coming spring, including GPS track, map, photos, solid copy, and a budget to try to obtain permission from the State and the timberland owner in the area so that a trail extension might be cleared and opened to the public.
If permission were to be forthcoming, the Deer Mountain Firetower Trail would become a thru-hike and a loop hike. For southbounders on the Cohos Trail, the new path would greatly improve their experience on the first day out by eliminating several miles of old logging route walking on Sophie’s Lane, providing access to a fine summit and the tower, and doing away with an out and back hike. For people staying at Deer Mountain Campground not too far away, the extension would create a loop hike out of the existing trail, as trekkers could return to the campground via Sophie’s Lane.
In the future, should an effort come to pass to restore the tower or at least install stairs, railings and a viewing platform at the top, the old Jeep lane might afford the chance to haul lots of materials to the very summit via snowmobile or ATV.
Deer Mt. Firetower, circa 1913. Photo courtesy of Jack Kelley
Deer Mt. Firetower in 1989. Photo courtesy Chris Haartz
Deer Mt. Firetower in 2019. Photo courtesy “Save Deer Mountain Firetower” on Facebook
When might this project be built if permission were in hand? 2020 might be possible, but 2021 would be more likely.