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Thread: Bigelow Range/Flagstaff Lake Loop

  1. #1
    Senior Member Tim Seaver's Avatar
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    Bigelow Range/Flagstaff Lake Loop

    After many visits to Maine's Bigelow Range, I finally got a chance to try the fairly obvious loop that is presented by Flagstaff Lake's proximity to the Bigelows and the Appalachian Trail, which traverses most of the range:


    Bigelow Range/Flagstaff Lake Loop

    It's about 19 miles over the range, another mile plus on the road in Stratton to the boat launch, and roughly 18 miles by water back to the east end of the start, a boat launch only a few hundred yards from where the AT crosses (and the hike started - there is room for a few cars there). The Flagstaff Lake route is part of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, which diverges from the hike/paddle loop at the east end of the lake, where the NFCT swings north towards Long Falls Dam.


    Bigelow Range at Night

    There are all kinds of possibilities for camping/lodging along the AT, in Stratton, and at the campsites which dot the islands and shores of Bigelow Reserve. Here's a map by Maine.gov to whet yer whistle.


    Cranberry Peak from the West End of Flagstaff Lake

    Only having one good weather day, I stuffed this into a 14 hour blitz, which was fun - but look forward to coming back and doing it at a more leisurely camping pace. I highly recommend this unique loop for anyone who likes hiking, paddling, and mountain scenery - hiking over a range and then being able to review the same peaks in the opposite direction by water makes for a very satisfying circuit.

    Some More Images

    Article at outdoors.mainetoday.com
    You donít have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things ó to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated. - Edmund Hillary

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    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Nice. I've hiked part of the ridge and done the Dead River (open boat solo and tandem, class 3 whitewater), but not the lake.

    What is the exposure info on the night shot?

    Doug

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    Senior Member Tim Seaver's Avatar
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    Doug - The lake was a pretty smooth paddle going west to east, with a bit of a tailwind. I can see where the wind could be real problem on this lake, and have read a few tales of people being shore-bound by long wind events.

    The night shot was 35 seconds at 4.5, ISO 4000, 17-40L at 17mm. 5d-MkII, natch.
    You donít have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things ó to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated. - Edmund Hillary

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    Senior Member timmus's Avatar
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    Very nice, thanks for posting.

    I want to do that hike, but no paddling for me. Can you tell me what is the best way to reach the eastern TH by car (from rte 27) ? It look like a long drive to spot the car...

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    Senior Member MichaelJ's Avatar
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    Awesome hiking loop! I just might have to steal the idea someday.

    Just want to clarify for other readers that you left the AT at Horns Pond ... the trail over Cranberry peak is a separate trail.

    Timmus - it's a very long drive on a bunch of dirt roads. I had the fortune of simply following GO when we did our car spot so I can't say exactly where to turn when, but it's still a lot easier than getting to those NE100 peaks.

    Little Bigelow has such lovely woods on it.
    May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. - Edward Abbey

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    Senior Member Tim Seaver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by timmus View Post
    Very nice, thanks for posting.

    I want to do that hike, but no paddling for me. Can you tell me what is the best way to reach the eastern TH by car (from rte 27) ? It look like a long drive to spot the car...
    Basically you stay on 16/27 to Kingfield, then 16 to North New Portland, and left on Long Falls Dam Road. It's not too bad of a drive, although there is a small detour on Rt. 16 right now at the bridge at North New Portland which can throw you off course if you follow the marked detour. What you need to do is just go a tiny bit south on 146 where there is another bridge, cross the river, and go back up to the other side (East) of the Rt 16 detour, which is Long Falls Dam road - you take this for 17.6 miles from NN Portland to the East Flagstaff Road, which brings you to the AT.

    Perhaps a tiny confusing map would help? Or not?:



    Bring a Maine Atlas!

    EDIT : These directions refer to the "civilized" ( but longer) southern route to the east end of the lake - there is also the Flagstaff Road, a dirt road which skirts the North side of the lake and is no doubt a shorter route ( probably what Michael is referring to), but between the low clearance of my camper and a lack of knowledge as to washouts, I opted for the paved variation.
    Last edited by Tim Seaver; 05-30-2009 at 12:06 PM. Reason: Added stuff
    You donít have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things ó to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated. - Edmund Hillary

  7. #7
    Senior Member Tim Seaver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelJ View Post
    Just want to clarify for other readers that you left the AT at Horns Pond ... the trail over Cranberry peak is a separate trail.
    Just to clarify your clarification , the AT actually leaves the range at Cranberry Pond, not at Horns Pond, where the Horns Pond trail comes in from the South.

    Definitely agree on the beauty of Little Bigelow and that area - the section from Safford Notch has a very secluded and lightly used feel.
    You donít have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things ó to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated. - Edmund Hillary

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    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    How about a bike-car spot? Looks like quite a way to stay on the more major routes (16/27)

    Tim
    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

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    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Seaver View Post
    Doug - The lake was a pretty smooth paddle going west to east, with a bit of a tailwind. I can see where the wind could be real problem on this lake, and have read a few tales of people being shore-bound by long wind events.
    Sounds like you picked a good day...

    At least one of the times that I did the Dead River, we paddled up to just below the dam holding up Flagstaff Lake. Just never tried to boat that particular lake.

    The night shot was 35 seconds at 4.5, ISO 4000, 17-40L at 17mm. 5d-MkII, natch.
    Somehow I figured the 5D-MkII was involved... I've taken some night shots with lots of sky and stars, but not away from civilization and its contaminating light.

    Doug

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    Heads up on paddling Flagstaff, it is shallow and the typical prevailing afternoon winds usually create some significant whitecaps. Paddling up the Long Falls end to Eustis, can be a real challenge in the afternoon. The opposite direction is usually a lot easier as long as your are comfortable paddling with white caps at your back (good time for a rudder). Also note that the USGS maps of the area show the lake at a very high level and some of the channels shown are not necessarilly there, it shouldnt affect a paddle up the lake but makes touring around kind of interesting.

    As mentioned, its a long way round to drive and a Delorme guide is real handy. While you are over there check out the AT crossing on Long Falls Dam Road, the number 2000 is painted in the road, which indicates that a thru hiker has walked 2000 miles.

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    Beautiful photos, Tim!

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    Senior Member Papa Bear's Avatar
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    Great post and pictures. What was your start time? Finish hike? all done?

    When we did that section of the AT in 2004, we met several camp groups. They would start at the west end, split their groups, half in boats / half hike, then meet at the east end (after an overnight along the way - these kids were not young Tim Searvers ) and switch modes to return.

    One might contemplate something similar with 2, 4, etc. friends.
    Pb

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    Senior Member Tim Seaver's Avatar
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    I like the idea of the boat swap - there are so many ways you could mix up paddling and hiking here.

    I hit the AT at about 5:15, was down in Stratton at 1:20, and on the water at 2:15. "Encouraged" by the incoming rain front, I made the east end at 7:45 pm.
    I had camping gear in my kayak, and really wanted to do an overnight on Hurricane Island to spend some more time taking pictures, but the forecast for the next few days put that idea to rest.
    You donít have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things ó to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated. - Edmund Hillary

  14. #14
    Senior Member timmus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Seaver View Post
    Basically you stay on 16/27 to Kingfield, then 16 to North New Portland, and left on Long Falls Dam Road. It's not too bad of a drive, although there is a small detour on Rt. 16 right now at the bridge at North New Portland which can throw you off course if you follow the marked detour. What you need to do is just go a tiny bit south on 146 where there is another bridge, cross the river, and go back up to the other side (East) of the Rt 16 detour, which is Long Falls Dam road - you take this for 17.6 miles from NN Portland to the East Flagstaff Road, which brings you to the AT.

    Perhaps a tiny confusing map would help? Or not?:



    Bring a Maine Atlas!

    EDIT : These directions refer to the "civilized" ( but longer) southern route to the east end of the lake - there is also the Flagstaff Road, a dirt road which skirts the North side of the lake and is no doubt a shorter route ( probably what Michael is referring to), but between the low clearance of my camper and a lack of knowledge as to washouts, I opted for the paved variation.
    Thanks Tim, and yes your map helps . Google maps gives me 1h57 minutes one-way, does that make sense ? That means logistic and good friends are required for that trip

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    I have done it and an 1 hour and 57 minutes is probably pretty close. If you have a GPS, take a couple of waypoints for the turn off the Long Fall dam road as its not super obvious.

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