After last weekend’s adventures on The Grafton Loop, I decided midweek I wanted to return to Maine. The drive is long and the bugs are out in full force, but I’m so close now and there was a big AMC group camping event at the Rangley Lake State Park that was too tempting to decline. We headed north on Friday to beat the traffic and arrived at the park and got set up. I scored a fine campsite right on the lake and hung my hammock there. In the morning we drove out to the Stratton Brook Pond trailhead.
We decided to do the loop clockwise, as to head up to The Horn’s first. Parking was a bit of an issue as we got a late start and there was some kind of mountain bike race happening. There is a lower lot here, and then a more rugged road leads down to the first river crossing, and a handful of cars can park there. I saw a Corolla there, so any car should be able to make it, but we parked in the lower lot anyways. The route here is well marked and we quickly arrived at our first junction, staying right to head up to Horn’s Pond. That camp site is really nice, there’s a few lean-to’s and many tent sites, I bet there’s ample moose viewing at dusk. We pumped some water here and slowly ascended South Horn. From here you get great views out to the bigger peaks we were heading to. The higher we climbed the less the bugs were a problem, but down low, was the worst I’ve ever had to deal with. Eventually we popped out on West Peak, and had some snacks and enjoyed the alpine breeze and endless views. The trails in here were in great shape as we moved on down to the col to pump more water. The sun was very strong and we needed all we could get. There is a care taker at Bigelow Col and it seems as though he has been asking everyone to take down loads of roofing shingles to help him out. We only had day packs and politely declined. We got up Avery Peak and again had a rest and took some photos, relaxed and enjoyed the views. The building I remembered here is gone, it looks like it might of burned down. As we headed back to the Col and began out ascent down Fire wardens Trail, I was glad we chose to use this for descent. It drops to elevation very quickly, maybe 2500ft in a bit over 2 miles, and it was rather taxing, but I always prefer to come down the steeper sections. Once down to the junction
Distance: 12.60 mi
Avg Pace: 46:26 min/mi
Avg Speed: 1.3 mph
Elevation Gain: 4,154 ft