We are pleased to announce that our Appalachian Trail Landscape Partnership projects have been awarded a grant from the Davis Conservation Foundation! The Davis Conservation Foundation is a public charitable foundation established in 1989 by Phyllis C. Davis and H. Halsey Davis of Falmouth, Maine, to support protection of the environment and conservation of our natural resources. The foundation was established following Mr. Davis’ retirement as President and Chairman of Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc. and has provided over $15.8 million in grants to conservation organizations since its founding in 1989.
The A.T. projects include two in Maine’s High Peaks and and two in the fabled 100-Mile Wilderness region just south of Katahdin. These funds will aid the Land Trust’s effort to complete projects that are of national significance to the Appalachian Trail and will be critical for Maine’s recreational, economic and ecological future.
Thanks again to the Davis Foundations! They have done incredible work in Maine over the years.
We are pleased to announce that the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust has received a grant from the Belayer Fund of the Maine Community Foundation!
The Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust is currently working on four conservation projects for the Appalachian Trail Landscape Partnership, which aims to bring together public and private partners to connect and conserve the natural, ecological, cultural, historic, scenic, recreational, and community values of the exceptional landscape associated with the Appalachian Trail and the Appalachian Mountain Range. Maine has two A.T. Priority Landscapes designated by the Partnership (High Peaks and 100-Mile Wilderness) and the Land Trust is spearheading two projects in each of those regions.
We are grateful to MCF for their support of our conservation work, but more importantly all the work MCF helps fund in Maine. In 2016, the Maine Community Foundation distributed $33.5 million in grants and scholarships from its charitable funds!
The Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust had our final visit on the ground, rather than in the air, to the soon-to-be completed Redington Forest conservation easement area. As a co-holder of the easement with the U.S. Navy via the REPI program, it is our responsibility to ensure that the baseline documentation is completed prior to the closing of the deal. This effectively means that we are taking a snapshot – through photos but also data and analysis – of what the property looks like when it is conserved. This will ensure that we, as stewards of the land in perpetuity, have an accurate picture of the conservation values we are aiming to protect. In fifty years, people should be able to look to the baseline as a document by which stewardship standards can continue to be measured.
It’s also fun and exciting to get out on a new project area and do some exploring! Just make sure that your truck has good tires when you head out on remote logging roads. Thanks to board member Claire Polfus and board vice president Pete McKinley for coming along!
By Louise Jensen
It felt like a late summer day when four early morning risers and one spunky black lab named Shyla arrived at our meeting place in New Portland. From there we consolidated cars and drove another 30 minutes to the Appalachian Trail trailhead located on East Flagstaff Road. We had a beautiful day ahead of us to hike Little Bigelow Mountain.
Little Bigelow is part of the Bigelow Range in Maine’s Bigelow Preserve. The Preserve is made up of over 36,000 acres of publicly-managed land near Stratton in Western Maine. This beautiful mountain range encompasses 7 summits including the 3,040 foot peak of Little Bigelow. The first section of the hike rises gradually through a dense forest of hardwood alongside a brook that, under normal conditions, would be gushing along but in near-drought conditions showed many sections of the brook to be dry or at a trickle. This was not welcome for some very late-season northbound through-hikers in search of a decent water supply whom we met later in the day.
We continued along the trail in a shimmering canopy of gold leaves overhead and then across some beautiful ledges where we had gorgeous views of Flagstaff Lake, eventually arriving at the East peak. From the East Peak we had amazing views of Sugarloaf and the rest of the Bigelow range. The warm temps, blue bird skies and the autumn fall colors all contributed to an idyllic setting for a long lazy lunch break on the ledges.
Before venturing out to the “true” and viewless summit, 2 southbound hikers stopped and chatted with us for a few minutes telling us that they did not start in Baxter park but just outside it which was rather curious. We soon learned why: a cat was traveling with them in a backpack! Pets are not allowed in Baxter State Park, hence the outside-the-park start. The A.T. is filled with all sorts of wonders.
The hike along the trail to the summit was still quite lush and green for this time of year. We ventured a little further in search of another view of the Lake but instead found another ledge with yet another fabulous view of the range. As this supposed lake view was nowhere in sight, we opted to turn back before this hike turned into a 10 mile affair instead of a 6 or 7 mile one!
Tired but happy we headed back to the trailhead. Everyone agreed that we had one of the most perfect days to be in the Maine mountains.
The Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust was fortunate to once again receive a donated conservation flight from LightHawk, an organization whose mission is to accelerate conservation success through the powerful perspective of flight. Practically speaking, they get really awesome pilots to fly over some amazing landscapes and take conservation people with them so they can gather data, take photos, inspect properties and get a new and comprehensive view of the landscape. We were fortunate to have pilot Scott Cianchette take us on a flight over Redington Forest and Maine’s High Peaks. As part of our acquisition of a conservation easement, we are required to complete a baseline documentation report outlining the conservation values and features of the property. Seeing all 10,000 acres from the air goes a long way towards doing that.
Thanks to Jonathan, Audrey, Scott and everybody at LightHawk for helping to get us up in the air.
The latest in our fall edition of the Next Century Hikes was up Cranberry Peak, the western-most of the five mountains comprising the Bigelow Range. While not a difficult hike, the last trip up in March was in difficult conditions and we did not reach the summit. This time, with much better weather, more daylight and repainted blazes, we were able to reach the summit in about two and a half hours.
We headed up through the foliage, which was at peak or just past at the lower elevations, and then up on the ridge. Arnold’s Well, a crevasse on the ridge in some boulders which is named for the man and his ill-fated expedition to Quebec, was empty of water and dry, as was the trail for most of the distance. Once we entered the higher-elevation spruce/fir area, things were a little slippery and there are a few scrambles up some large boulders. The March expedition had to turn back in these areas due to cold, ice and not much guidance on the route of to the summit. The blue blazes denoting an official A.T. side trail have since been repainted.
The summit was cool and windy, with temperatures in the high 40’s. The group sheltered behind some rocks and had a nice lunch in view of Flagstaff Lake. On the descent, things warmed up a little once we reached the south side of the ridge, and it was a pleasant trip down.
Stay tuned for our next hike on Saturday – Little Bigelow, at the other end of the Bigelow Range.
Every year, the Maine Appalachian Trail Club hosts a hike for partner organizations who do work along Maine’s A.T. This year, there were attendees representing MATC, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the National Park Service. The purpose of the hike is to get partners out on the A.T. for a day of catching up, seeing the trail, and mostly unwinding from a busy season in the field. This year the hike was up Little Boardman Mountain in the 100-Mile Wilderness, right in the KI-Jo Mary Forest. A spectacular area for outdoor recreation, there are several ponds near Little Boardman and the views from the top are pretty good. It was a great day in the field and a nice chance to reconnect with some good folks.
Saturday was a fine day for our next A.T. Next Century hike, and the destination didn’t disappoint. Old Blue Mountain is right on the A.T. between Grafton Notch and Maine’s High Peaks, in a stretch of 3600-foot peaks that also includes Elephant Mountain (3,772 feet, trail-less, not the one near Moosehead Lake) and Bemis Mountain, a long ridge with a high point of 3,592 feet. This is not a section of the A.T. that sees many day hikers, as they tend to favor the areas above. Nonetheless, the terrain is as rugged and the scenery as spectacular as it is elsewhere.
We started out right at 10am – another factor in favor of this part of the A.T. in Maine is the accessibility. No logging roads to drive on and exactly 2 hours each way from Portland. We didn’t see anybody else on the trail except for three sets of thru-hikers. One group was just being picked up by a shuttle service in Andover, another was just being dropped off, and the last was a guy from Tennessee section hiking to Dalton, Massachusetts. The weather was warm for this time of year and there were plenty of vehicles headed up to South Arm Campground just up the road.
Since the hike is only 2.8 miles each way, we took it slow, enjoyed the scenery and each other’s company. There are several steep sections sandwiched around a nearly-flat climb, so we were on the summit by 1pm. We spent about 45 minutes on top eating lunch and talking. The weather by this time of day was actually hot, despite the summit breezes.
The trip down is easier, but the terrain is so steep that it’s more of a challenge than it is on the ascent. More than any other hike, it almost feels like you are on a different trail due to the differing views (it’s an up and back hike). Even the view of the Black Brook valley down to Andover and Ellis Pond seemed to be different. We somehow missed seeing the Andover Earth Station on the way up, but it was prominent on the way down!
It was another great hike to round out the summer season. Check back on our website for additional hikes for the fall!
We had a great hike up Puzzle Mountain for Labor Day weekend! As you can see we had a large group hit the trail and the weather was perfect. Normally we’d have trip leader Mike Morrone do the write up but he’s getting married in a week. So instead, we posted lots more picture than we normally do. Enjoy! See you out there on the trail!
The High Peaks region recently celebrated two A.T. communities with all-day celebrations featuring games, giveaways, food, music, entertainment and more. A.T. towns are considered assets by all that use the A.T., and many of these towns act as good friends and neighbors to the Trail. Rangeley was designated an A.T. community in 2012 and Kingfield just last year. The two other Maine A.T. communities are Monson and Millinocket. Millinocket will be holding their annual Trails End Festival from September 15 to 17th.
Here are some highlights from the Rangeley Trail Town Festival on September 2nd:
And some from the Kingfield’s A.T. Community Celebration: