At the north end of the Donnell Pond Public Lands and nestled alongside the Blackwoods Scenic Byway Route 182 sits the trailhead for Tunk Mountain. This hike to the summit is a there-and-back trail with the option to add a small loop mid-way up. The initial hike is of moderate difficulty, but it leans to a harder difficulty level toward the summit where climbing on your hands and feet or using iron rungs to scale boulders may be necessary. The hike offers scenic vistas with Frenchman's Bay and Acadia National Park to the southwest and the Downeast Maine Interior to the north and east. Moose can be seen from time to time in this region as well as beaver and birds of prey. Driving Route 182 at night, be watchful for the ghost of Catherine Hill, a female apparition said to wander roadside.
The trailhead and parking lot for Tunk Mountain is just off the north side of the road. The trail takes an immediate descent into a ravine to folllow a stream from higher up the mountain and then begins to meander back up. About half a mile into the trail, the loop for Hidden Ponds can be found. This small trail runs 1 mile rejoining the Tunk Mountain summit trail a little further up ahead. The loop winds through several bogs and offers views of Salmon Pond and Little Long Pond with the chance to spot a moosen as well as eagles overhead or perched in the tall pines above. Continuing along the main trail to the summit, the path begins to climb a little more steeply and eventually makes a hard left hand turn, after which the hiker will find a tunnel of pine and evergreens with the welcoming aroma of balsam for which Maine is so well known. The tunnel then opens up to a striking view of Mud Pond and sheer rock walls at the opposite end. Looking up the cliffs, the summit of Tunk Mountain begins to take shape. Finding a rock outcropping along Mud Pond affords an excellent spot to stop and eat or just enjoy the scenery.
To continue on the trail, follow the pond around to the west and as it turns right to climb up. A small waterfall will need to be crossed, so take care and watch for loose rocks. The path again climbs more steeply as the last half- to three-quarters of a mile is climbed to the summit. There are a couple of small switchbacks toward the top as well as rungs for climbing over boulders on the trail. Above the treeline wild blueberry bushes await interspersed between rocks and boulders sitting atop the mountain. Turning to look back down the trail will offer views of Acadia National Park and Frenchman's Bay as well as Tunk Lake, Spring River Lake, Donnell Pond and the snaking Route 182 below. Continuing along these boulders will eventually yield the summit of Tunk Mountain with more vistas to the south as well as views north and east to the interior Maine countryside and the many wild blueberry barrens of the Downeast regions.
On the return trip back down the mountain, take care to mind loose rocks and slick areas around the bogs because the moss and lichen can be quite slippery when wet. Please stay on the path to avoid crushing the blueberry bushes and disturbing the natural habitat of the region.