Bigelow Range 18M Traverse, Stratton, Maine

July 4, 2018 - Another of my long-standing bucket list adventures, I was really looking 
forward to coming to Maine.  Only regret was that I had to do it solo.  Beginning at the 
western end at the Currie Street TH in Stratton I immediately embarked on the ascent
of Cranberry Peak on the Range Trail.  It was a good stiff climb to begin another 
unseasonably warm day in New England mountains.  I was up and over the peak in no
time and made the Appalachian Trail juncture in under two hours.  

Wearing my USMC Desert Storm hat I quickly drew the attention of every Marine on the
trail, the first being a thru hiker I met at the AT juncture on his way to Georgia.  There
were perhaps a dozen other thru hikers on the trail heading south, but I didn't run into
any finishing their hike, heading to Katahdin.  Using only a light outfit with minimal 
supplies I was able to move along at a good shuffle on level and down hill sections,
then power hike the uphills.

The day went smoothly, not too hot with nice mountain breezes, going up an over all
six peaks to the eastern terminus of the range where I finished after nine and a half
hours at East Flagstaff Road which passes through a Native American reservation, so
there was not much traffic!!!  There was nothing else to do but begin to jog in the
direction of Carrabassett Valley to Route 16/27 five miles away.  A few people came
past but failed to stop at the beckon of my outstretched thumb.  Finally a local couple
did stop after a mile of running or so and took me to the main highway.  Five miles
closer, but still 15 miles from my car in Stratton.  Again, there was barely any traffic
for the Fourth of July.  It would be a long run if no one stopped, but I have endless
faith in such matters, so started to run to cut the distance.  Before I got another mile, 
despite a surprising lack of traffic, a guy from France living locally stopped to give me
a lift for the rest of the way.  So, it only took about an hour to hitch the 20 miles or so.

Great day.  Great adventure.  Another great achievement.  If anyone asks advice, I'd
say make sure your knees are in tip-top shape, and good luck and be patient if you
have to hitch a ride back to the start.



The Bigelow Range Trail starts at the western end of Bigelow Preserve and climbs over Cranberry Peak to Cranberry Pond. The trail climbs moderately to open ledges at 2 miles and reaches Cranberry Peak at 2.9 miles. The trail descends to Cranberry Pond and follows the north shore where it ends at the AT, 4.6 miles from the TH.

The Bigelow Range runs in an east-west direction and is comprised of six peaks. Approximately 171 acres of alpine habitat are found on the upper portions of the ridge. The largest alpine communities are found on the central twin cones of Avery Peak (4088') and West Peak (4150'). Further to the west, and only slightly lower, North Horn (3810') and South Horn (3831') rise above the glacial tarn known as Horns Pond. Cranberry Peak (3213') and Little Bigelow (3040') form the eastern and western extents of the ridge.

In May 2005, Backpacker Magazine named the Bigelow Range Traverse the tenth most difficult day hike in America in an article titled "America's Hardest Dayhikes". Backpacker cited the 18 miles of black flies with attitude and 10,000 feet of elevation gain as reasons for inclusion on the list.


For the western end of the range: If you are driving on Route 16/27 in Carrabassett Valley, Maine, drive West from the Sugarloaf USA Ski Resort to the village of Stratton and take the first street to the right, Currie Street, for .3M on dirt road to western TH.

For the eastern end of the range: Take the Carriage Road off 27/16 in Carrabassett Valley, follow it to the end and turn left onto the Bog Brook Road. Shortly after this turn, veer left again onto the East Flagstaff Road; the TH is only a short distance on the left after this intersection; there’s a parking area on the right just prior to the AT TH.

Camping: The entire Bigelow Range is part of the Bigelow Public Reserved Land, a Maine Public Preserved Land that encompasses 36,000 acres. No fees for hiking or camping are required. There are numerous campsites throughout the preserve. Notable sites include Avery Memorial Tentsite, located in the col between Avery Peak and West Peak, and Safford Notch Tentsite, located just off the AT between Avery Peak and the ridge of Little Bigelow. Moose Falls Tentsite is located adjacent to the Fire Warden's Trail just before the trail begins the steep climb to Bigelow Col. There are a number of places to stay at Horns Pond and near Cranberry peak at Cranberry Pond. Additionally, there are a few primitive campsites near the trailhead for the Fire Wardens trail. The sites are nicely located on or near Stratton Brook Pond.