Date of Hike: July 17, 2014

Trailhead: The Fire Warden's trail is located at the end of Stratton Brook Pond Road. The day before the hike we wanted to check out the trailhead and drove by the Stratton Brook Pond Road a couple times because the street sign is missing. Actually it is leaning up against a tree and covered by foilage. If you are driving north on Rte 27 look for sign for Pond Loop Road just after you pass by the AT parking lot. This road connects to Stratton Brook Pond Road or just go a couple hundred feet beyond it and turn right onto Stratton Brook Pond Road.

Follow Stratton Brook Pond Road about 1.6 miles straight to the end. You will come to a parking area. I guess this is where you are supposed to park. From the parking area, hike down the road towards the left to get to the trail head. I'm not sure if you are allowed to drive down this road, but there are vehicle tracks on it and we did see one SUV parked down this road. It is possible to drive down it to the trailhead.

Trail Conditions: The Fire Warden's trail was in great shape. Very good footing down low allowed for a quick pace. There were a few sections of mud and water on the trail, but it had rained a lot the day before. Overall it was pretty minor. Whoever maintains this trail has done a great job with erosion control on the steep section leading up to the col. It almost like a stair case through a lot of the steep section. The only real water crossing is at the very start of the trail. It is wide, but easily rock hopable. The AT to both peaks is in great shape too. I also wanted to note that there is no trail sign at what I consider the start of the trail where you cross over the stream. You need to hike on the trail along the pond for 5 to 10 minutes before you come across the first trail sign. Beyond that the signage is very good.

Special Equipment Used: We used trekking poles. Poles are always a personal choice, but I find them helpful. Bug spray was essential. We were swarmed in the parking lot before we even put the car in park. Once we gained some elevation the bugs seem to disappear.

Comments: I hiked this with Gaiagirl. It was a beautiful day for a hike. The views from both peaks were awesome especially overlooking Flagstaff Lake. We also ran into JustBob on Avery Peak.

In researching this hike several people suggested going up the Horn's Pond Trail to get up to the ridge instead of going up the steep section of the Fire Warden's Trail to the Avery Col. After I started adding up the extra miles and book times it made no sense to go up the Horn's Pond Trail. If you are hiking this just to bag two Maine 4Ks then go straight up the Fire Warden's trail. If you are used to hiking the 4Ks in NH this trail won't be any problem.

Brian