October 28th, 2020
Hikes & Brews: Tumbledown Mountain and Tumbledown Brewing
Hemmed in by the craggy alpine-like summits of Tumbledown Mountain and Little Jackson Mountain, Tumbledown Pond is easily one of the prettiest—and most popular—hiking destinations in Maine’s western mountains. Just west of the windswept tarn, Tumbledown’ s 700-foot south-facing cliffs fall away in dramatic fashion, adding to the beauty of allure of this high and wild place.
Some 22,000 acres known as the Tumbledown Public Lands sprawl across the unorganized Township 6 North, a few miles northwest of the tiny village of Weld. The adjacent Mt. Blue State Park adds another 8,000 acres, making for a veritable bonanza of hiking possibilities on more than 15 miles of trails.
Head for the Brook Trail trailhead on Byron Notch Road. Take the Little Jackson Connector, then climb via Parker Ridge Trail over open ledges yielding fabulous views of Webb Lake and Mt. Blue. From Tumbledown Pond, make an airy scramble over to the west peak of Tumbledown (3,068 feet) for views ranging from Old Blue to Saddleback and Abraham. Double back to the pond and return to the car by way of Brook Trail for a six and-a half-mile loop hike.
A few miles east of Farmington on U.S. Route 2 is the Eastside Mall shopping plaza, where Tumbledown Brewing has occupied a storefront since Matt Swan, and his wife, Meaghan, opened the place six summers ago. “We brew a little something for everybody,” said Swan, a homebrewer from way back, who, along with his assistant brewer, Dane Kaiser, produces a wide range of high-quality brews, eight of which can always be found on draught.
The flagship Tumbledown Red is a smooth, malty, easy-to-drink beer. Devil’s Hopyard, a well-balanced West Coast IPA, is a close second in popularity. Enjoy those brews and more in the cozy taproom, furnished with a few barrels and stools and a TV. In the summer, relax outside at the picnic tables.
A large print of Tumbledown Mountain, the brewery’s namesake, adorns one wall of the taproom. “Everyone around here knows Tumbledown, has hiked it or camped below it on Webb Lake. It’s a beautiful mountain.” Agreed.
Hike: Tumbledown Mountain and Little Jackson Weld, Maine
Brew: Tumbledown Brewing 207-491-9882
— Text & Photos: Carey Kish of Mt. Desert Island. Carey is an avid beer drinker, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide, and author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast.