Caribou Mountain with Ladies Adventure Club of Maine

By Stacy Alvarez, LAC Member

Saturday, August 25th proved to be the perfect day for hiking Caribou Mountain.  Nine LAC adventurers with their knowledgeable guide Simon Rucker (Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust), and trail dog Callie, hiked the Caribou Trail to the summit.  The trail crossed several brooks and streams that tested our balance while we traversed over the rocks, like we were playing nature’s version hopscotch. The soundscape of the forest was alive with rush of water flowing over the rocks.  The trail climbed steadily to the summit affording us many rest stops (thankfully!) to enjoy the tranquility of the Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness.

At the summit (2850 ft.), we ate our lunches and were treated to the gorgeous sweeping views of the surrounding mountains.  Simon pointed out each by name, including Mt. Washington. We took the Mud Brook Trail back down the mountain that was indeed, at times, muddy, much to Callie’s delight!   We were awed by the many varieties and colors of mushrooms we saw along the trail, never tiring of the diversity. Every step confirmed that this was a wonderful day to be in the forest, and every laugh confirmed we were in excellent company!  We all agreed that hiking Caribou Mountain was the ideal way to end the summer.

To find out more about the Ladies Adventure Club of Maine and join up for some other adventures, visit https://ladiesadventureclubmaine.com/

Old Blue Mountain Trip Report

Steep trail up from Black Brook Notch.
Snow Valley down to Telstar.
Flat spruce woods on the top of the notch.
Blue hazy mountains to the west.
The viewing rock.
Woo!
Trail magic???

The latest Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust community hike was up Old Blue Mountain in the vicinity of Andover, Maine.  After exiting Grafton Notch the A.T. heads through a series of lower mountains and notches before reaching Black Brook Notch.  This valley features a dramatic down one side of the notch (Moody and Sawyer Mountains) and an equally dramatic ascent up the other side – Old Blue Mountain.

Our small group started from South Arm Road, where the A.T. very steeply ascends the notch wall for about half a mile before flattening out.  The views down Black Brook Notch into the Ellis River and Snow valleys show the sparsely populated Andover region.  Many A.T. hikers stop in Andover and stay over at a local hostel and get some delicious food at The Little Red Hen (where this group stopped as well!).

We continued up the trail towards Old Blue, sometimes heading up, sometimes down but mostly staying flat.  After another 1.5 miles the trail again ascends up the steep-ish side of Old Blue, finally reaching the flat summit area at about 2.8 miles from South Arm Road.  The summit is dominated by low spruce forest of about 3-6 foot trees, so your view will depend on how much you can look over their tops!  To the north, the A.T. continues on, skirting Elephant Mountain’s flank and then proceeding up Bemis Mountain (location of the next A.T. shelter).  Well to the north, taller hikers can see Mount Abraham, Saddleback Mountain and others in Maine’s High Peaks region.  To the west are the most dramatic views of Grafton Notch, the Mahoosucs and beyond to the White Mountains.

Our descent was relatively quick, as the steep parts of the trail have been masterfully constructed with stone steps by the Maine Appalachian Trail Club.  At the base, a well-known trail magic purveyor had set up and had several A.T. hikers with him for the evening!

Join us for our next hike up the Crockers on September 9th!  All of our community hikes are free and open to all.

Bigelows Trip Report

Made it!
Tick Me Off!!!

By Louise Jensen

A postponed hike from a rainy Saturday to a hot and humid Sunday left only 2 hikers to travel up to the Bigelow Preserve in Western Maine. The State of Maine website describes the Preserve: Located in western Maine just east of the village of Stratton about 40 miles north of Farmington, Bigelow Preserve includes over 36,000 acres of public land. The preserve encompasses the entire Bigelow Range, which includes seven summits. The highest of these at 4,150 feet is West Peak, one of only 10* Maine summits over 4,000 feet in elevation. Bounded on the north by 20,000-acre Flagstaff Lake, the preserve offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation.

The hike was a loop featuring 2 peaks this day, West Avery and South Horn, with a side visit to Horns Pond. We hit the trail just after 9 am and already the heat and humidity were rising steadily. Despite the conditions, we made it to Avery Col by noon, traveling via the Fire Warden’s Trail, the shortest route to reach Avery and West Peak. The last mile up to the col is a steep one, but we took our time and once there, we ate and relaxed on one of the tent platforms at the Avery Col campsite.

Sufficiently fueled and rested, we soon set out on the AT for West Peak, only .4 miles away. Hikers descending from the summit promised us that we would finally find the cool breezes and lower temps that eluded us all morning and we were not disappointed. A refreshing breeze (we even layered up a bit!) and hazy but oh so spectacular 360 views greeted us upon our ascent: Flagstaff Lake, Rangeley Lake, the Horns peaks, Avery Peak, Little Bigelow Ridge, Sugarloaf Mountain. The Bigelow Traverse along the AT is considered by some to be one of the most scenic hikes in Maine, and this hiker is in total agreement. We spent a considerable amount of time soaking in the magnificent views, taking pictures and chatting with hikers (not many through hikers this day). We even admired the rather unusual piece of hiking attire sported by a young woman hiking with a nice group of Canadian backpackers: a life vest!  “Safety first”, she said. I guess no one was going to drown in Horns Pond today!

We still had a long way to go so we headed over to South Horn. We descended below tree line along a quiet and beautiful section of the trail. It was lush and green, with some easy footing, a relief from the rocky and bony pathways we hike so often in Maine. We ascended to the small conical summit of South Horn where we met the Canadian group again and took in a splendid view of Horns Pond, our next destination. We did not linger long and began our steep descent toward the Pond, passing up a trip on the spur to the North Horn as we still had a few hours of trekking ahead of us. In about a half mile or so we made it to the Pond where we took a short break, soaked feet, and admired this peaceful and lovely body of water nestled high up in the mountains. The peaceful part soon ended as our Canadian friends arrived and proceeded to strip to their undies for a refreshing dip. We contemplated doing the same as it was still hot and humid but we were heading out and they were staying the night. Note to self: next time pack a bathing suit (or at least an extra set of undies!).

We completed our loop hike by turning left off the AT and descending gradually on the Horns Pond trail, passing by a beaver pond and through a stand of spruce, and then continuing down among the hardwood trees to Stratton Pond Rd. Along the way we met one of the MATC Ridge Runners who was on his way to the Horns Pond Campsite to check in on our Canadian friends and another group camping for the night.  We finally arrived at the parking area just after 6 pm, tired but happy after 12 plus miles of hot, humid, beautiful and amazing hiking.

* There are 14 peaks in Maine listed as 4,000 footers.

Caribou Mountain Trip Report

White Mountains
Heading up through lower-elevation deciduous forest
Bright sun low and high.
Wooo
Mahoosucs

The Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust had our latest community hike up Caribou Mountain in Evans Notch on a beautiful Saturday.  Our community hikes are designed to get people of all abilities out on the A.T. landscape and Caribou is a great one, winter or summer, due to its accessibility – it’s not too steep and not too far from most people.  At the same time it’s a great hike!

We started off on a beautiful day – sunny, 0% chance of rain, low humidity.  The trail up Caribou from Bog Road starts on old logging roads administered by the US Forest Service since the land is in the White Mountain National Forest.  The mature forest canopy is mostly comprised of hemlock, maple, and birch, and the trail is open and inviting.  For the first half of the approximately three miles of trail, the ascent is gradual up to a ravine between Caribou and Gammon Mountain, just to the north.  After crossing into the Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness area, the trail intersects with the Mud Brook Trail and both merge and head south to the summit of Caribou Mountain.

The forest abruptly transitions from hardwoods to spruce and fir, and suddenly we were in the boreal forest of mountaintops in the great north woods.  We came out on the summit area – complete with fragile alpine vegetation – and had views in all directions of some of the most spectacular mountain terrain in both New Hampshire and Maine.  Directly to the west we could see the Carter-Moriah Range, with the Presidential Range looming directly behind them.  The Mount Washington Observatory was clearly visible.  To the south we saw the Baldfaces, scarred and rocky in the sunlight, and the triangular pyramid of Kearsarge North.  To the south, crossing the border into Maine, we saw Speckled Mountain nearby and the lakes ringing Pleasant Mountain and the ski slopes.  To the north lay the Mahoosucs, Old Speck, the Baldpates and then just to the east, trailing away to the horizon, the High Peaks area of the Crockers and Sugarloaf – next week’s community hike – could barely be seen.

All of our community hikes are free and open to the public.  Our trip leaders will make sure you have a good time and get out on the A.T. landscape.  If you’d like to come along, please sign up here or contact us with any questions!

Old Speck Trip Report

Gloomy.
Sunday River Whitecap
The group!

The latest Maine A.T. Land Trust community hike was up Old Speak in the Western side of Grafton Notch.  According to the Maine Mountain Guide, Old Speck, at 4,170 feet, was named for its speckled appearance formed by its large areas of exposed rock and tree cover and to distinguish it from other speckled mountains in Maine.  For a long time it was thought to be the second highest peak after Hamlin on Katahdin but now it is known as the fourth highest following Hamlin, Sugarloaf and the north peak of the Crockers.

Despite the prediction of a cloud-covered summit and the possibility of rain, four of us headed up the AT in damp, cool and humid conditions. Soon after starting out we came to the trail junction for the Eyebrow, an eyebrow-shaped cliff  below Old Speck where the trail loops around to rejoin further up the AT.  This was not part of the day’s plan, not to mention it would be slippery and have no views. Another day perhaps. As we traveled along and starting ascending the stone steps heading to the falls on Cascade Brook, we encountered a most awful stench and soon saw a sign indicating that there was a dead moose carcass just off the trail. The maggots lining the footpath and the truly overwhelming odor was not enough to stop two curious members of the group from taking a look. Rest in peace my moose friend.

As we continued on we met quite a few through hikers both north and south bound. One pair, heading northbound (also known as NOBO) who had joined up along the way, were known as “Fish Out of Water” and “Prof”.  “Fish” is a marine biologist from California so the lack of ocean views on this journey made him feel like, well, a fish out of water! “Prof” is a young man who started smoking a pipe and was told he looked professorial (he ditched the pipe soon after). They were happy to answer the usual annoying questions from day hikers and even posed with us for pictures.  Good sports!

Summiting found a quite few other day hikers either enjoying lunch or climbing the fire tower where they could only imagine the view they were missing.  It is truly spectacular on a clear day.  We took our customary group photos, hunted for the “geo” survey marker (short for geodetic) hidden in the bushes on a rock by a cairn – and then headed back down.

Descent was uneventful – there were a few more through hikers and day hikers along the way. Although rain was predicated for the late afternoon, the sky actually started to clear a bit and we were able to get a few glimpses of the mountains from the ridges – Sunday River Whitecap stood out quite nicely. All in all, we were quite happy with our hike. It’s not always about the view – just wandering companionably through the Maine woods with fellow hikers is just as meaningful.

Baldpates Trip Report

Photo courtesy of Phil Coyne.

By Louise Jensen

The Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust hosted its second community hike of the season to Baldpate Mountain in Grafton Notch. There are two summits: the somewhat wooded West Peak at 3,662 feet and the wide open and beautiful East peak at 3,812 feet.  According to the AMC Maine Mountain Guide, these peaks were also known as Saddleback and Bear River Whitecap. This rugged hike, complete with bog planks, ladders and open bald ledges leads up the AT and starts on the east side of ME Route 26.

The morning was cool, crisp, clear and breezy when four guys and a gal met up in the parking lot in Grafton Notch State Park. Two of five had not hiked the Baldpates before and were promised that it would be more than worth the effort. In fact, we stopped at the trail junction for Table Rock, a short rugged side trail with a sign indicating fantastic views, and the question was raised whether we should spend the time to go see them.  Although the views from Table Rock are pretty impressive, the views to come would clearly outshine those from Table Rock so we continued on and left Table Rock for another day.

It took well over three hours to reach the summit. Along the way we took a .2 mile detour to visit the lean-to and have a quick snack. We took time to photograph the one lone (and more uncommon) white lady slipper next to the trail and the alpine flowers along the boggy areas. Continuing along, the wind picked up dramatically as we ascended over the open ledges to summit the East peak. As promised, the views did not disappoint. To the southwest you could see as far as Mount Washington and looking northeast you could see as far as Sugarloaf.

Lunch was spent enjoying the views (and in a few cases napping) on the eastern end of the summit where it was warmer and less windy.  Soon it was time to leave, and reluctantly we headed back down the ledges where the wind had picked up even more and buffeted us around!  Fortunately, no one flew off the mountain and upon our return to the parking lot we decided to meet at the Sunday River Brewing Company. We enjoyed a nosh and a beer and reflected on our awesome hike to the Baldpates.

 

Puzzle Mountain Trip Report

Old Speck and the Baldpates in the clouds.
Any minute now…
View towards the Presidential Range.
Lunch!
Grafton Notch.
Beer afterwards at Norway Brewing Company!

The Maine A.T. Land Trust’s latest community hike was up Puzzle Mountain on a beautiful Saturday in Grafton Notch!  This mountain (which has three summits) is one of the true hidden gems in Maine’s Appalachian Trail landscape.  The peak is 3,133 feet high but due to the location there are large areas above treeline and the final 3/4 mile or so is on rock ledges that give the mountain a true alpine feel.

We stopped at Rising Sun Bakery, picked up a few stragglers and headed out! Temperatures were in the low 70’s and the weather, a bit cloudy and humid at the start, only got better as a front passed through and dried things out.  We had a group of seven and we reached the summit in just about two and a half hours, where we enjoyed a great lunch from Rosemont Market and spectacular view of the surrounding mountains.  We could see the higher peaks of the Mahoosuc Range (including the Baldpates, destination of next week’s hike), the string of peaks among the Rangeley Lakes (Old Blue, Bemis Mountain), and all the way up to Saddleback Mountain and Mount Abraham).

After descending, we all agreed it was a great day and celebrated with a drink at one of the finest breweries in the A.T. region, Norway Brewing Company.

Join us for our next hike on Saturday, June 9th up the Baldpates!  Sign up here and you can reserve a spot and a free lunch!

John Sage Foundation Provides Support for Land Conservation

Bald Mountain Pond.

The Maine A.T. Land Trust has just received a grant from the John Sage Foundation for upcoming work on the Bald Mountain Pond project!  The work to protect this unique area, which combines water recreation and access with mountainous terrain, will begin this summer.  Conservation of this property will also secure an important buffer for five miles of the nearby Appalachian National Scenic Trail at Moxie Bald Peak and new public access to Bald Mountain Pond via 19 miles of private logging roads for hikers, paddlers, and anglers.   The area supports a variety of regionally and nationally significant wildlife such as the landlocked Arctic char and Canada lynx, a federally threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

Thank you to the John Sage Foundation for helping the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust to on this project!

Maine A.T. Land Trust Receives Grant from Onion Foundation

The Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust is pleased to announce that it has received a grant of $5,000 from the Onion Foundation in support of the SCALE UP program.  The Onion Foundation is a private philanthropic foundation based in Maine. The Onion Foundation’s mission is to encourage conservation and stewardship of the natural environment and to promote music and the arts in the state of Maine.  They are locally-based and fund local non-profits only in Maine, and have contributed to some excellent organizations doing great work for the past several years.

You can read more about the SCALE UP program below!  Thanks again to the Onion Foundation.

Summer Hikes List Posted!

The Maine A.T. Land Trust has posted our 2018 warm-weather season roster of hikes here!

Just to give you a quick rundown – we’ve selected some of our favorites on the A.T. or on official A.T. side trails throughout Maine.  Some of the spots are well-known, but we like to get people out in places they might not be familiar with or wouldn’t go to unless they had somebody take them there.  We also picked a few that are in the greater A.T. landscape but not directly connected to the trail because they are more accessible and you can get an experience of an important component of the A.T.(like a national forest area).

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you feel like you need more info about a hike or have any questions.  As a further incentive to get you signed up, we’ll provide lunch!  Free!