Intro to the Bigelows Trip Report – November 2016

Bigelow Preserve, Stratton ME
November 11-13, 2016

This was our first time in the Bigelow Preserve area. Coming from Nova Scotia, we were looking for more weekend options (outside our go-to Baxter State Park) that didn’t involve driving all the way to New Hampshire. The Bigelows reach 4,000 feet and the campsites do not require reservations. Though the Appalachian Trail passes through, we figured there wouldn’t be much traffic this time of year. There is also free trailhead parking.

Trail map and guide are available for download from the Bigelow Preserve website. We also printed National Geographic USGS topographical maps of the area for additional detail.

We arrived Thursday evening and set up camp at Stratton Brook campground, just a short walk in from where we left the car. The trail was was clearly marked, but we did a bit of circling around before setting up the tents because we didn’t see a campsite sign or pit privy. I think we were in the right place.

The next morning we started hiking in time to catch the end of a beautiful sunrise.

DSCN4970

The day started off feeling like fall, though we were anticipating wintery conditions up on top.

DSCN4976

The morning was brisk, but we warmed up as we climbed the Fire Warden’s trail.

DSCN4980

Suddenly we could see “winter” on the peak above us.

DSCN4983

Soon after, we reached the top of the Fire Warden’s trail at the Avery Col campsite and turned right to make the .4mi trek out to Bigelow Avery peak. (For the rest of this day we’d be following the AT). The sun was shining brightly but the wind was whistling above us as we emerged from shelter.

DSCN4996

The shape of the range means that you can see the other peaks in front and behind you.

DSCN5000

We stopped to add the last few layers just below the summit.

DSCN5008

Here is Mark on Avery Col.

Taking a moment to read the commemorative plaque.

DSCN5023

Whenever we popped out of the trees, the views were spectacular.

DSCN5037

Up on Bigelow West peak and still very windy.

DSCN5040

DSCN5043

More expansive views as we continued across.

DSCN5050

DSCN5054

DSCN5063

We skipped the north horn view on this trip, but we’ve since been back. It’s definitely worth the very short detour.

DSCN5064

We stopped for a hot lunch (dehydrated split pea soup is one of our winter favourites) at the Horns pond Lean-to.

DSCN5071

DSCN5072

From here there are great views across to Sugarloaf.

DSCN5075

From there it was all downhill. We weren’t entirely sure how long this stretch would be, because the distances were inconsistent between the two maps we had with us, but we were happy to come across this marker as the sun was setting.

DSCN5084

Shortly after, with an amazing sky glowing in the distance, we reached Cranberry Stream where we had planned to camp for the night.

DSCN5085

In the morning it was just a short walk back to the car. We had done some researching on the drive down, and headed over for a great breakfast at the Looney Moose cafe before starting the drive back to Nova Scotia.

Well done Bigelows! We were already making plans to return.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s