Elevation: 3434 (OJI), 2502 (West Peak)
Posted Distance: 8.4 Miles
Suggested Time: ???
Our Time: 6 Hours
Here's the fun thing with OJI. In 2016 they closed the main trail an re-opened the old trail. So most of the literature available on the mountain documents the old ascent and not the one that is currently operational.
The new climb brings you up the back end of the mountain and gives you an opportunity to visit West Peak which is marked but without a trail in a lot of maps (although the 2016 edition of the Baxter Park map does have it)
You park at, or near, foster field campground and begin a muddy walk in. The Park helps you for most of it by putting down platforms to cross on but there are certainly some spots where you need to either have good shoes or a creative mind. It's a fairly gradual climb up to the West Peak junction and we were not feeling too challenged yet. We veered off to West peak which was a .2 mile, somewhat steep climb to a good view and break spot. The biggest down play for West Peak is that you can easily see how much of OJI you have remaining. And it's a lot!
.2 Miles back down and we are only 1.3 away from the Summit. The climb steepens significantly from this point on. About .6 miles in you climb above tree cover. There is a tricky spot right before Old Jay Eye rock (.8 M from West Peak Junction) where you have to either climb through a narrow hole (pictured below) or take a narrow ledge around. We accidentally did both and they are both manageable but intimidating to size up.
Old Jay Eye Rock is a gorgeous area with great view (Doubletop towers to the west). A truly phenomenal spot in the park. From there you can see the true Peak .5 miles away. It is not a difficult .5 miles, however the peak is tree covered with no sights to be seen. Now we've set out to do every peak in the park, so we kind of had to go. But I don't think anyone would blame you if you cut off a mile out and back once you got to Old Jay Eye Rock.
I actually really enjoyed OJI. It's certainly a challenging hike but it's within reason. I don't think the views are as good as others we've done so far, actually come to think of it these were probably the worst views (but in a very competitive list). It;s a hike that leaves you exhausted afterwards, but you don't hate everything about it while you're climbing.