Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust’s latest Next Century Hike was a trip to the Berry Picker’s Trail – partially over land owned by the Land Trust – up to The Horn. This traditional trail up the ridge to the A.T. was recently re-opened and is now a blue-blazed official A.T. side trail. The normal route to The Horn (4,023 feet) via the A.T. from Route 4 is 14.6 miles round trip. Taking the Saddleback ski trail will shave off a few miles at the expense of some ugly terrain. But if you take the Berry Picker’s Trail, the route is significantly shorter – 7.8 miles round trip – and follows a steady but not too steep open ridge with excellent views all the way up.
However – to access the Berry Picker’s Trail, you need to first drive over a rough logging road for a little over three miles and then park at an ATV gate. This road has deteriorated significantly since the fall so if you are heading in please use caution and have, at a minimum, a high clearance vehicle with all-wheel drive. From the ATV gate, you walk up the ATV trail for one mile before you reach the true trailhead of the Berry Picker’s Trail.
We had a small group of just three for this hike, but the weather was spectacular. Once we reached the A.T., we saw several southbound and northbound thru-hikers, including one from Spain. We reached our destination – The Horn – at 12:30pm, and had a leisurely hike down. Even at this pace, we were back at the car at 4pm. It’s not often you can get into terrain as remote as it is on this side of Saddleback, ascend a 4000-foot peak, and then be home in time for dinner two hours later!