Length – 3.1 miles
Trail Blaze Color – White
Intermediate, Elevation gain 344 feet up , 346 feet down
Moose Odyssey is the grand loop for Libby Hill Trails. This trail provides two open views, access to all trails in the Libby Hill Forest, access to the Libby Family memorial, views of the old Libby homestead foundation, and is the trail you should use first to acquaint yourself with the trail system. If you aren’t up to the whole three miles, a number of cut off trails allow you to make loop hikes of practically any length.
Trail Description (trail highlighted in purple below)
The Trail begins and ends behind the Middle School, you can reach the trailhead by walking either behind or in front of the Gray-NG Middle School from the dirt parking lot at the left end of Libby Hill road. You will see a chain link fence, use the gate or go around the fence near the woods. The Trailhead 1 has a Kiosk with a small roof where the hike begins. You will end the hike at Trailhead 2 which is about 300 feet left of the kiosk. You can hike the trail in either direction, I will start this description from the trail head closest to the Middle School.
The trail climbs steadily over 100 feet in elevation for the first mile, you will soon cross the first ATV/Snowmobile trail (see our descriptions of ATV trails) and proceed through a very open pine forest owned by Hancock Lumber. This section has lots of blueberries in mid July due to the large amount of light created by the sustainable forest management of Hancock lumber. Keep in mind that this first 1/2 mile of the trail is not owned by the Town of Gray and is at risk for possible future development. You are also very likely to see deer or even moose in this area since you have a long view through the woods and they often don’t hear you coming, so keep a long view for wildlife!
As you near the top of the ridge you will see a large cell tower on your right, this is a good landmark should you become disorientated on the trails. Just beyond the cell tower, the woods become much thicker with old growth pine and oak trees. You officially cross onto the Libby Hill property when you go through a break in a stone wall. This stone wall runs almost the whole north border of the property and is a reminder of the farming that occurred here over 150 years ago. The elevation levels off since you are near the top of Libby Hill now, at 3/4 of a mile you cross the Old Libby Hill road. This road runs over 2.5 miles between the Middle School to Birch Road near the narrows on Little Sebago Lake. The road is a good orientation point since it divides the Libby Hill Forest (LHF) and is a quick way to return back to the school. Some maps may also refer to the Old Libby Hill road as “Dow’s Divide”, named after the Dow family (descendants of Daniel Libby) who donated this land
Immediately after crossing the Old Libby Hill road you will see on your right the cellar hole for the house of James Libby who built the first house on Libby Hill. If you look around this area you will see some of the old maple and apple trees used by the Libby family in the mid 1800’s. Keep in mind that Libby Hill was completely cleared of trees when people lived here. In George Hill’s, History of Gray, one woman reported going up Libby Hill to see the glow of the Portland fire of 1866. As you proceed over the next 0.5 mile you will see what looks to be recent logging with many open spaces in the tree canopy. This actually was the result of a microburst (mini-tornado) that cut a 200 foot swath through Libby Hill in 2003. Dozens of large pines trees were snapped and uprooted by this storm and had to be removed and used for lumber. You will also cross an SA (Snowmobile/ATV) trail here, so watch for trail signs. As the forest closes in, you approach the first viewpoint (0.9 miles). If you look beyond the stone wall you will see a good section of the valley that makes up the town of Gray. Small trees on the adjoining property are growing larger and this view will gradually disappear within 10 years.
Just beyond the view, the Deer Run trail intersects on the left. This trail connects at two other areas of Moose Odyssey and can be used to make a variety of loops. As you continue on Moose Odyssey you wind through the tall pine woods with minimal elevation changes. You approach a second viewpoint at 1.1 miles from the trailhead. This viewpoint gives you some extra views toward Auburn and New Gloucester. Shortly after the second view, Deer Run trail (1.2 miles) joins the trail again. Stay right to keep on Moose Odyssey, the trail now starts to have a few up and down elevation changes and the forest begins to change to more hardwood and less pine. Holmquist Hollow trail intersects at 1.4 miles on the right. This trail is named after trail founder, Carl Holmquist, who loves a challenge. This trail quickly descends nearly 80 feet in a quarter mile and will get your heart beating if you are on skiies. The trail descends into the northwest corner of the forest and at 1.6 miles the Holmquist Hollow trail rejoins the trail on the right.
You are now about half way around the loop and at 1.7 miles you intersect and share an SA trail before bending right into the woods. This next 1/2 mile of trail serpentines through the pine forest again. Some trail users get disoriented in this section since the trail comes very close together giving users the illusion they have been on this part of the trail before. At mile 2.0 you hit the last intersection of Deer Run on your left. The section of Moose Odyssey from here until the Old Libby Hill Road is known as McPike’s Hike, named after this author who was also a founding trail member. I got to choose what part of the trail I would like to be honored by; I took this section since I spent a fair amount of time alone cutting this section and it has a very special mini canyon, which I particularly enjoyed.
You hit Old Libby Hill Road at mile 2.3, remember if you are tired, you can take a left and quickly return to the Middle School(0.6 miles) . At mile 2.4 you will see the newest trail, Harold Libbey, on your right. This trail makes a 2 mile loop and is designed for backcountry skiing, mountain biking, or hiking. It will rejoin Moose Odyssey at mile 2.6 where a memorial to Harold Libbey is on a granite rock just to right. Also a small connector trail goes left here and returns you to the first section of Moose Odyssey, stay right to complete the loop. You then break through the impressive stone wall again and begin descending toward the middle school. You will see the cell tower on your left and will pass the second connector trail at 2.9 miles, the SA trail at 3.0 miles and finally return to the Middle School at 3.1 miles. You have finished Moose Odyssey and once you have, I’m sure it won’t be long before you return to discover the other trails at Libby Hill Forest! Should you decide you want to continue on, the Turkey Trot trail begins at this point.
Maps produced with Delorme’s Topo USA 6.0 visit their site at www.Delorme.com to learn more!