The United States Congress designated the Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness (map
) in 1990 and it now has a total of 11,236 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Maine
and is managed by the Forest Service.
New Hampshire is home to most of the White Mountain National Forest but many of its acres cross into Maine. Within this expanse lies the Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness. Encompassing both Caribou Mountain and Speckled Mountain, it is the state's largest Wilderness. It is an area of rugged terrain with deep notches, open ledges and numerous ridges covered by northern hardwoods. White pine, the official state tree of Maine, grows lower down on the slopes while spruce and fir dominate the forest higher up. Many cold mountain streams run out of this area headed for the Androscoggin River to the north and the Saco River to the south.
Dots or "specks" of hardwoods that color brilliantly in fall cover the flanks of Speckled Mountain (2906') giving the mountain its name. It is often confused with a number of other mountains in Maine that share similar names such as Old Speck (4170'), which is only twenty miles distant. The Wilderness' other namesake, Caribou Mountain, lies four miles north of Speckled Mountain. Slightly lower at 2840', its name reminds us of the giant relative of the reindeer that existed in the state until the first part of the twentieth century.
Speckled Mountain rises near the center of a network of trails that provide access to its many superb vistas. Open ledges abound and a number of interesting geologic features such as slides, notches, and glacial potholes can explored. The Bickford Brook Trail climbs from the west to the open summit of Speckled Mountain. It begins outside the Wilderness boundary at the Brickett Place Wilderness Information Center. The center is staffed seasonally and can provide information about trails and local history. Farther north, Caribou Mountain provides some of the most attractive ledges in the Wilderness on its open summit.
Moose, bear, coyote and other animals inhabit the forest of the Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness. Trails avoiding the summits and the areas off trails are the best bets if viewing wildlife is a primary goal of your visit. Trout can also be found in the many streams that carve their way through the hills. Bushwhacking may be difficult due to thick understory but it allows visitors to explore some of the wild trailless portions of the Wilderness. Winter access to the Wilderness is much reduced by the seasonal closing of Rt 113. This road provides the main access to Wilderness trailheads from the west and is usually closed from mid November through mid May though exact dates will depend on local conditions.