How to Hike Every 4,000-Footer in the Rangeley Lakes Region in One Trip
After spending four days in the Rangeley Lakes Region of Maine, I have compiled an itinerary of what one would need to do to hike every 4,000-footer in this region in one trip. Coming from Southern New Hampshire, I opted to complete two of my days of hiking on travel days. This trip involved summiting ten peaks, hiking just over 42 miles, and gaining over 16,000 feet of elevation.
New England 67
The peaks I set out to hit on my trip are all on the New England 67 list. Additional information on what the “rules” are as well as everything you need to know about the various hiking lists in New England can be found here.
Mountains to Summit
–Sugarloaf: 4,250 feet
–Spaulding: 4,010 feet
–Abraham: 4,050 feet
–Saddleback: 4,120 feet
–Saddleback Horn: 4,023 feet
–Bigelow, Avery Peak: 4,090 feet
–Bigelow, West Peak: 4,145 feet
–South Crocker: 4,050 feet
–Crocker: 4,228 feet
–Redington: 4,010 feet
Day One: Sugarloaf, Spaulding; Four Hours of Driving
Total Distance/Elevation: 10.8 miles; 3,691 feet elevation gain
Trails Taken/Mileage: Appalachian Trail (2.3 miles) > Sugarloaf summit (.6 miles x 2) > Appalachian Trail (2.1 miles) > Spaulding summit
Trail Type: Out and back
Trail Description: The first part of this trail is mild to moderate in elevation gain. Around mile 1.5 you hit rock scrambles. The rock scrambles only last about .5 miles and then you hit the open portion of the trail, which affords views of the various mountains in the area. The trail continues to climb moderately and returns to the trees where after 2.3 miles you reach the junction with Sugarloaf summit spur trail. The spur trail is moderate and easy to follow to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain. The trail between the Sugarloaf spur trail and Spaulding spur is moderate in elevation and in the woods. There are a few ups and downs along the way but the trail is easy to follow and heavily trafficked. The spur trail to the summit of Spaulding is very short and the summit marker is easy to find on the wooded, view-less summit.
Alternative Day One: Originally, I planned on also summiting Mount Abraham on day one but didn’t have the energy to push for the extra mileage and elevation gain. This required me doing Abraham as a single out and back on my second day of hiking. It would’ve been less elevation gain to hit Abe on day one, but more mileage. Estimated elevation gain if I included Abe would be over 5,000 feet and total mileage would be around 18.
Day Two: Saddleback, The Horn, Abraham
Total Distance/Elevation: 11 miles; 5,887 feet elevation gain
Trail Type: Out and back X 2
Hike One: Mount Abraham
Trails Taken/Mileage: Fire Warden’s Trail (4.2 miles)
Total Distance/Elevation: 8.4 miles; 2,917 feet elevation gain
Trail Description: Finding the trailhead for the Fire Warden’s Trail was more difficult than I thought. The trail is off a series of logging roads, which makes it difficult to find, especially given that there are no signs directing you to the trailhead once you get onto Rapid Stream Road. The trail starts off gradual with minimal ascent for the first 2.5 miles. It runs through deciduous forest and is easy to follow with six stream crossings (all easy to navigate). Once you hit the portion of trail that ascends the mountain, the climb is consistent and moderate for one mile before you break treeline. Once you break treeline, with roughly .5 miles to the summit, you will be climbing on a rocky alpine trail marked by cairns. The summit has an old shelter built into the top which can be used to get out of the elements. The final .5 miles of trail is exposed except for a few short stretches through krummholz.
Hike Two: Saddleback, The Horn
Trails Taken/Mileage: Saddleback Mountain ski trail (1.8 miles) > Appalachian Trail (1.88 miles)
Total Distance/Elevation: 6.8 miles; 2,970 feet elevation gain
Trail Description: The first 1.8 miles of trail ascend the ski slopes from Saddleback Mountain Ski Area. The trail is mostly steep, with a few short sections of flat terrain followed by more steep ascents. Although the trail is on the ski slopes, it’s easy to follow the well-beaten path used by many hikers. Once you hit the ridge line, you will need to follow the path that is marked by a few cairns and runs adjacent to the AT and then loops around to join the AT. It is easy to follow this small section of trail. Once you’re on the AT, you’ll remain above treeline for the remainder of the hike except for a few short sections within the krummholz. The trail leading to Saddleback gains almost no elevation after you’ve ascended the ski trail. After reaching the summit, you’ll descend several hundred feet as you head toward The Horn. The trail descends over some steeper rocky sections and then continues to descend more gradually before reaching the col between the two peaks. You will begin to make your ascent after about a mile of going down and the final .6 miles to the summit of The Horn offers consistent and moderate elevation gain. There is one section over rocks that will require climbing a metal ladder but is easily navigable. Both summits as well as the majority of the trail offer outstanding views of the Rangeley region.
Day Three: Bigelow Avery, Bigelow West
Total Distance / Elevation: 10.6 miles; 3,396 feet elevation gain
Trail Type: Out and back
Trails Taken/Mileage: Fire Warden’s Trail (4.6 miles) > Bigelow Avery summit (.4 miles x 2) > Bigelow West summit (.3 miles x 2)
Trail Description:The Fire Warden’s Trail is located across from the parking spots on the dead end of Stratton Brook Pond Road. Follow the flat access road for 1.6 miles until you reach the junction where Horns Pond Trail breaks off to the left. Continue straight along the trail, which will continue to be mostly flat with a few small inclines. The trail begins to climb in earnest and is a continuous steep ascent. Once you get close to the ridge (the Appalachian Trail) the trail levels out a bit and there is a spot where you can filter water. Continue to the ridge and head right toward the summit of Bigelow Avery. The trail is rocky and requires some rock scrambling. Head back to the trail junction and continue to the summit of Bigelow West. The ascent is steeper than that of Avery but less rocky. There are outstanding views from both summits and the trails are easy to follow.
Day Four: Crocker Mountain, South Crocker, Redington
Total Distance/Elevation: 9.77 miles; 3,894 feet elevation gain
Trail Type: Out and back
Trails Taken/Mileage: Appalachian Trail (2.1 miles) > South Crocker summit > Appalachian Trail (1 mile x 2) Crocker Mountain summit > Redington Bushwhack (1.2 miles x 2) > Appalachian Trail (2.1 miles)
Trail Description: The trail leading to the summit of South Crocker is moderate in elevation gain for the first mile and then begins to gain in earnest for the final 1.1 miles. There are minimal rock scrambles along the trail and the majority of it is easy to navigate. Once you reach the summit of South Crocker, you take a right onto the trail heading toward Crocker Mountain. This portion of trail is moderate in elevation gain across the entire portion. There are no views from either summit but small glimpses of views along the trail leading to Crocker Mountain.
To locate the start of the herd path, continue straight toward the spot on South Crocker labeled “view.” Directly in front of you to the right of said view is a small herd path. Follow this path into the woods. The total mileage from the start of the herd path to the summit of Redington is 1.2 miles. You will descend .7 miles from the start of the herd path. Follow the pink survey tape on the trees along the trail. Once you emerge from the woods descending South Crocker’s summit, you will reach a forest road. Take a left at the cairn and head .1 miles up the forest road. Then, take a right at the next cairn on the right side of the forest road marking the start of your ascent of Redington. Follow the herd path and survey tape up Redington .4 miles to the summit. After coming out of the herd path as you approach the summit marker you’ll see a cairn. Take a right and head toward the open summit. The summit marker is tucked into the trees on the right.
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