Somerset County High Point Trip Report

Date: November 2000
Author: Denis Hanson

After Katahdin, the Bigelow Range is the second best group of peaks in the state. The highest point is West Peak at 4150', but Avery Peak at 4088' the Horns at 3800'+, and Cranberry Peak at 3200+ also lie along the long E-W ridge. West Peak and Avery Peak both rise above tree line, with Avery Peak having the best views, ranging from NH to Katahdin. Flagstaff Lake and the Dead River lie below Bigelow to the north. Only Katahdin has better views. The entire range is part of the state's Bigelow Mountain Preserve, established via referendum in the 1970's to prevent a ski area being built on the mountain.

To reach the Bigelow trail system, on ME 27 drive 3.3 miles west of the Sugarloaf access road. Turn sharp right onto the Stratton Brook Road, which looks a little like a local house's driveway at the beginning. Drive in 1.6 miles to the parking area at the end of the road. You'll cross the Appalachian Trail at 1.1 mile, and depending on rainfall might meet some big puddles of indeterminate depth soon after.

From the parking area, wade across Stratton Brook and follow the Fire Warden's Trail for 1.6 miles to the Horns Pond Trail junction. Stay on the Fire Warden's Trail, passing an AT campsite, until 1.5 mile the Horns Ponds Trail the trail steepens, gaining 1700 ft in 1.5 mile. Reach Avery Col 4.6 mile from the parking area. Turn right on the AT for 0.4 mile, climbing over large, tilted blocks to reach Avery Peak and its abandoned fire tower.

To reach the county highpoint, turn west (left) from Avery Col onto the AT and follow it 0.4 mile to West Peak. From West Peak continue west, descending steeply on open ledges, then moderately/easily through firs, then steeply up South Horn. It's 2.1 miles from West Peak to South Horn. Horns Pond lies 600 ft below. Descend steeply for 0.6 mile to the Horns Pond lean-to, then easily for 0.2 mile to the Horns Pond Trail junction.

Turn left on the Horns Pond Trail and follow it, descending moderately, for 2.5 miles back to the Fire Warden's Trail. The last time I was on this trail I saw a moose, a deer, and a bear - just one of each. Turn right onto the Fire Warden's Trail for the final 1.6 miles back to the parking lot.

Total trip with side trips to Avery Peak and North Horn is 13 miles with a gain of 2800+ ft not counting ups and downs. Do this hike! Even westerners will like it.