The Maine A.T. Land Trust had its long-awaited trip up the Berry Pickers’ Trail on Saddleback Mountain for the Great Maine Outdoor Weekend, and the trip was as spectacular as we could have hoped! After a chilly, 30 degree start, the weather was warm and sunny, and though some hikers had to drop out at the last minute, we had three in our party bushwhack up to the A.T. from the valley below.
The Berry Pickers’ Trail was the long-time route from the town of Madrid up to Saddleback Mountain. When it opens next spring, the trail will connect the Fly Rod Crosby Trail to the A.T. There is vehicular access to the trailhead via logging roads.
We set off at 8:30am, heading up an ATV trail which gradually intersects with and becomes co-terminus with the Fly Rod Crosby Trail. From there the Berry Pickers’ Trail heads north into the woods up the slope of Saddleback Mountain and into conservation land owned by Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust. The trail was flagged by Maine Appalachian Trail Club’s Dave Field and he has done an excellent job of finding a path through some thick terrain. Thanks Dave!
The trail soon reaches the open area of the ridge and proceeds gradually to the A.T. corridor between Saddleback and The Horn. Saddleback Jr. can be seen to the northeast. One of our hikers, Eben, is the descendant of a local Madrid family which once owed nearly all of the land in the Orbeton valley (see photo in the slideshow). Eben helped us deal with the many scratches and tumbles as we bushwhacked by imparting his knowledge about the landscape, which was extensive. His family is still involved in conservation efforts in the area, and though many members of the family live in other parts of the country, they maintain close connections with the land and community.
The group made it back safely in the late afternoon, with only half of the first aid kit depleted of supplies needed to cover the scratches, bruises and tweaked ankles.
Be sure to join us for next month’s hike along the Appalachian Trail in Maine!