Damage and litter lead to camping prohibition on Tumbledown Mountain

June 25, 2021

For more information contact: Jim Britt at: Jim.Britt@maine.gov

Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands reminds hikers and campers to follow rules and regulations to protect our open spaces

AUGUSTA - The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's Bureau of Parks and Lands (BPL) reminds campers to buy local firewood, and perhaps most importantly, set up their camp and build campfires in designated areas. Maine is seeing increasing numbers of campers damaging and leaving litter behind in sites around the state. Maine's iconic Tumbledown Mountain, well known for its accessibility to many hiking skill levels, western mountain views, and alpine pond located just below the summit, is one location that has been impacted by such misuse.

Dispersed campers are heavily impacting the mountain with discarded equipment, fire damage, cutting down trees, trampling vegetation, and leaving behind human and dog feces. As a result, all camping areas on Tumbledown Mountain are now closed. Park Rangers and Maine Forest Service Rangers will be on patrol and on the lookout for illegal camping and illegal fire activity on the mountain.

"While the recent increase in outdoor recreation is good for everyone, ongoing disregard for Tumbledown Mountain's rules is damaging fragile habitat and creating an unwelcoming environment for visitors," commented BPL Deputy Director Bill Patterson. "Our role is to care for Maine's treasured outdoor spaces so that the thousands of hikers who love and respect the mountain will find a more enjoyable environment today and for generations to come."

Hikers are invited to help.

Be familiar with the seven Leave No Trace principles, and educate others, especially children, about protecting the outdoors. Report camping, campfires, or other illegal use of the mountain by contacting BPL's Western Public Lands Office, 129 Main Street in Farmington, at (207) 778-8231.

Nearby camping alternatives.

Tumbledown Mountain is located nearby Mount Blue State Park and Rangeley Lakes State Park. People interested in camping are encouraged to make advanced reservations online (campwithme.com) or call 800-332-1501 from within Maine or 207-624-9950 from outside of Maine. Hikers can find additional camping options on the Maine Campground Owners Association website.

Tumbledown Public Lands Camping Prohibition Q&A

Q: Why is the BPL prohibiting camping at Tumbledown?

A: The BPL has decided to prohibit camping on Tumbledown Mountain to improve the day-use hiking experience for the thousands of individuals, families, and groups who visit the mountain annually.

Tumbledown lands are not designated or managed for camping, and the summit area has become a busy informal campsite with dozens of campers crowding in, especially on summer weekends. The summit's fragile ecosystem, which provides habitat for native plants and wildlife, is especially susceptible to damage due to the harsh climate and thin soils.

In addition to the impact on the environment, a notable minority of campers often create a disturbance with music, litter, and unauthorized fires. Beyond the difficulty and expense of staff removing the trash and human waste, the general disregard for the mountain and other visitors is not sustainable.

Q: What is the BPL policy and process to regulate camping?

A: The BPL makes land management decisions based on our Integrated Resource Policy, unit management plans, and professional judgment to protect natural resources and provide for public recreation. After careful consideration, including public input during the 2020-21 management planning process for Tumbledown, the BPL determined it is in the best interest of the environment and public enjoyment to eliminate camping at Tumbledown altogether. As part of management planning, the Bureau works to carefully locate and design primitive campsites on the Public Lands, over 200 of which have been designated. While some will be disappointed, others will find a greatly improved atmosphere and environment as they enjoy the summit. As with some of Maine's other most notable peaks, such as Katahdin and Cadillac Mountain, overnight camping is not compatible in such busy, fragile locations.

Q: What alternatives exist to camping at Tumbledown?

A: For those seeking the enjoyment of an overnight camping trip coupled with climbing Tumbledown, the nearby Mt. Blue State Park and Rangeley Lakes campgrounds provide excellent camping locations near the Tumbledown hike. Private campgrounds may also be found in the surrounding area within a 45-minute drive of the trailhead. For those looking to replicate a remote backcountry camping experience, several trail systems are designed to accommodate overnight hikers, including sections of the Appalachian Trail at the nearby Four Ponds, Mahoosuc, and Bigelow Public Lands. MaineTrailFinder.com is a good resource for finding and planning hiking trips, including extended overnight hikes.

For more information, please call the BPL Western Region office in Farmington at 207-778-8231, or BPL Deputy Director Bill Patterson at 207-441-6140, or email BPL Outdoor Recreation Planner Rex Turner.

Supporting documents

Campers at this illegal campsite on Tumbledown Mountain used nearby live trees as firewood (Courtesy Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands)

A fire-scarred rock area on Tumbledown Mountain resulting from illegal camping (Courtesy Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands)