Sunrise and Sunset: White Cap Mountain

The 100-Mile Wilderness is one of the most notorious sections of the Appalachian Trail. Many lakes and ponds are passed along the way, and a few mountains are scaled, including the tallest peak in the area, White Cap Mountain. The broad, open summit area offers outstanding views all over the mountainous terrain of northern Maine.

Sunset over Baker Mountain from White Cap.

There are a few different routes to access the summit of White Cap Mountain. We were going to take White Brook Trail, but it turned out to be closed due to logging, so we headed for the northern trailhead on the Appalachian Trail. After having some difficulty following the roads (as it was our first time in the region) we found the trail and began up the northern side of the mountain.

Appalachian Trail sign.
The trail heading up White Cap Mountain.

The trail was relatively flat the whole way, never getting steep. The hike was surprisingly easy for such an infamously grueling sector of the Appalachian Trail. About half way up we stumbled upon Logan Brook Lean-To. After the camp, the trail followed the "Stairway To Heaven" an extremely well put together set of stone stairs that are seemingly never ending.

A portion of the stairway.

Eventually, we were lead to the first viewpoint, which looked toward Katahdin. The trail flatten then lead further and further up the staircase easily until it emerged out into an alpine meadow, and curved up the side of the mountain until it reached a craggy meadow with views toward Katahdin, Jo-Mary Mountain, and the many lakes of Millinocket.

The first viewpoint toward Katahdin.
Climbing higher and higher.
One of the best portions of it can be seen here.
Katahdin in the distance with Jo-Mary Mountain to the right.

The trail wrapped around the small cluster of trees atop the mountain until it reached a large scree field and the summit sign. From the scree field there were excellent views looking toward West Peak, Hay Mountain, Baker Mountain, Elephant Mountain, and Big Moose Mountain visible in the distance. Coburn Mountain can be seen all the way out.

The view west toward West Peak and Hay Mountain.
Baker Mountain is tallest to the right.

Looking south can be seen the Chairback Range, with peaks such as Barren Mountain, Fourth Mountain, Third Mountain, Columbus Mountain, and Chairback Mountain. Saddleback Mountain can be seen to the southeast, with Moxie Bald Mountain and the Bigelow Range visible to the southwest.

The Bigelow Range (tallest) with Mosquito Mountain in front of it.
Saddleback Mountain with Little Spruce Mountain to the right.
The Chairback Range can be seen in the distance.

From the summit sign the Appalachian Trail continues into the trees past the summit, but we stopped here to find a spot among the trees to pitch the tent. There was a side trail that wound through the trees to a large meadow looking north to Katahdin and the Debsconeag Lakes region. The Spencers and First Roach Pond can also be seen.

The summit sign.
The large body of water is First Roach Pond. The two peaks behind it are the Spencers.
Mt.Shaw can be seen to the right.

Throughout the trees and scree fields can be found several remnants of the former fire tower. From wooden planks to broken glass, and even large rusted bolts, it's impossible to miss the towers remains. After rummaging through the trees we found a small building with solar panels and even more remnants of the tower.

The structure atop White Cap Mountain.

It didn't take long for us to set up camp. From the northern outlook we could see large clouds of rain moving east, and we were worried we would be hit with rain. Luckily, it held up just long enough for us to witness a beautiful sunset over the many peaks visible from the scree fields. Once the sunset was over, the wind picked up, and we entered the tent.

The mountains before sunset.
The mountains during sunset.
The sun beneath the horizon.

We awoke the next morning to see the sunrise, which rose beside Jo-Mary Mountain. Large clouds of mist were flying past us through the sky at fast speeds. We could see rain coming, and it slowly moved it's way right over us. The sunrise was beautiful, but we had to get out of the rain and wind, so we hurried off the summit.

The Spencers before sunrise.
The colors of the sunrise are visible.

While both the sunrise and the sunset were absolutely gorgeous, the weather was a big negative. The first day was good, aside from cloudy northern skies over Katahdin. The only view we were able to get the second day was the sunrise. After that, clouds rolled in and the rain came down harder. The mountain was very beautiful, but I wish I could've enjoyed it more. Either way, it was worth it, and the views were great.


  1. Although it's difficult to see in the sunrise photo's, it was definitely one of my favorite's. The higher clouds and colors from the sun reminded me of an oil painting. And the fast moving lower clouds added another element to the uniqueness of it all.

    1. It sure was unique. Thank you for commenting!

  2. As much as I really enjoy each and every blog you post, and as awesome as all the pics are, it's always exciting to wonder, and see what pic really pops above the rest. I think the Stairway is the popper for this entry. But the sub-alpine/alpine pics are always enjoyable.

    I'll have to categorize them - nothing beats your sub-alpine/alpine pics, the rest are my secondary favorites.

    1. Thank you for commenting, and thank you for commenting so nicely about my photos!