Bigelow Range– a point to point hike up and over the Bigelow range including Avery Peak and West Peak
Distance: 10.2 miles total. Many options for making this an overnight hike, loop hike or multi-day hike.
Location: Carrabassett, Maine. Route 27 just past Sugarloaf ski area.
Parking: Stratton Brook Pond Rd off rt 27. This is a dirt road with a small parking area that leads up to the fire wardens trail. Also parking at other end at entrance of Safford Brook Trail, also small parking area.
Use: Good for hiking,maybe snow shoeing.
Wildlife: This is a well protected area with many opportunities for wildlife. Deer, fox, rabbit, moose and bear are all possibilities. While I was camping at Round Barn Campsite which is just beyond the Safford Brook Trailhead, I was awakened by a huge moose wandering through the site just before dawn. Round Barn Campsites are right on the shore of Flagstaff Lake which is a draw for moose. The back side of the Bigelows is bordered by remote dirt roads and the lake so you’re very likely to see wildlife. The front side of the ridge is a vast wilderness as well with the Horns Pond and Stratton Brook Pond being magnets for many forms of wildlife. Even though the busy AT traverses the ridge you can expect an abundance of wildlife especially on the connector trails like Horns Pond Trail, Safford Brook Trail and Fire Warden’s Trail.
Wilderness Experience: Sugarloaf is a very busy place in the winter as a huge draw for skiing enthusiasts. The Bigelows are just across rt 27 from Sugarloaf but are far enough away from the road that there is no question that you will feel enshrouded in the wilderness of the Bigelow range. Hiking up Safford Brook Trail you follow Safford Brook, a beautiful wilderness hike. It is quiet and serene. There are many glacial erratics on the trail leading up to the ridge making it feel even more wild as you hike through and under huge boulders. Once on the ridge you are in the open for a while and you can see for miles. You really do feel like you’re in a vast wilderness. Coming down the Fire Warden’s Trail the wilderness and quiet continues all the way to Stratton Brook Pond. If you continue to Horns Pond instead you will enjoy some real feelings of isolation as well.
Trail: The trail varies from thick, forested floor to steep, rooty and rocky terrain to open granite ledge ridges to stone steps. The upper sections of Fire Warden’s Trail and Safford Brook Trail are quite steep
Summit: Excellent 360 views for extended sections along the ridge and on both Avery and West peaks. No question some of the best views in the entire state. You can see Sugarloaf, Katahdin, the Crockers, the Mahoosucs, and all the way to New Hampshire. The north view over Flagstaff Lake is just phenomenal.