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 Sugarloaf Mountain, ME (NE4K #62)- 1/8/2016 
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 Sugarloaf Mountain, ME (NE4K #62)- 1/8/2016
I almost decided not to post a TR from this trip (at the risk of getting told "Oh, why did you drive 400 miles for a 4.2 mile hike?"), but it's another one of the NE67, so here ya go.


The Backstory:

My original plan was to do both Bigelows, which I almost did, but that plan quickly turned to mush when I got to Stratton Brook Pond Rd. It was somewhat plowed/packed down, and I saw tire tracks from what looked like a small car heading down the road, so I figured why not? Long story short, I admit I messed up on that one. Thought I could make it down, but I was wrong :oops: . I got alllmmmost to the AT crossing, right at the bottom of a big hill with a logging road branching off to the left, before deciding to head back to the main road. No where to park and no where to turn around, so I backed all the way out... almost. About 50 ft. from the plowed portion of the road, up to the last house, I literally got stuck in a rut and couldn't get out. Tried for 20 min. to get myself out, but said screw it and called AAA. About an hour later, my car was free and I headed down ME 27. About 9:30 AM when I got free, so no time to do the Bigelows :oops: :( . I still didn't want to drive all the way home having done nothing, so I decided to take lemons and make lemonade and hike Sugarloaf Mountain via the ski trails.

After my "experience", I drove over to the ski area, bought a $10 uphill pass from Guest Services, strapped on the snowshoes (first time I used them this winter), and headed up the Windrow ski trail. Kind of anticlimatic passing by the ritzy condos at the bottom, but whatever. Once past the condos, the trail started out at a moderate grade, then got significantly steeper as I got closer to Bullwinkles, which was a small lodge which offered meals to trail users. Took a break there and then headed up the Tote Road ski trail, taking that basically all the way to the top. This part was fairly difficult, too- it was steep, and I constantly had to dodge skiers, some of whom cheered me on as I chugged up the mountain :lol: . Eventually, I left the hustle and bustle behind, and I soon stood on top of my 62nd New England 4K. Took me almost 2 and a half hours to hike 2.1 miles, but to be fair, there was 2,800 ft. of elevation gain, and it was my first time wearing snowshoes in 9+ months 8) .

Disregarding the structures on the top, the summit was open and rocky, with good views; however, if not for the sporadic cloud cover, the views would have been incredible. You're right GG- I do have bad luck with weather on the higher peaks :( . Spent about 20 min. on the top, then booked it back down to the base lodge for some *expensive* lunch- two slices of pizza which cost me $8.00 :shock: . Worth it IMHO after that beast of a climb and the crap I went through beforehand. After lunch, I made my way home, with a few food/rest/info stops along the way. In the end, I got home around 6:15 PM despite leaving at 3:15 AM.

Overall, this was almost a complete failure of a trip. If I had gone home having hiked nothing, it would be a complete failure. I nabbed #62, but I still have to go back for Spaulding :oops: . Might take a long weekend later in the season and do Spaulding (& Sugarloaf again) and the Bigelows, but next time, I'm parking on route 27 and taking the AT to SBPR. But then again, hike your own hike :wink: .

Here's the video recap, if you're interested:
Image

https://youtu.be/hRQ4TXiRVPQ

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Sun Jan 10, 2016 4:35 pm
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 Re: Sugarloaf Mountain, ME (NE4K #62)- 1/8/2016
hiker0200 wrote:
I almost decided not to post a TR from this trip (at the risk of getting told "Oh, why did you drive 400 miles for a 4.2 mile hike?")


Who would ever say such a thing?! :wink: But I don't know why you'd care if anyone did that. That's just their opinion. They can think what they like. I'm 100% certain I've posted reports on trips people just shake their heads at be it a 50th Pawtuckaway report or driving 19 hours to hike the Black Mountains and driving home the next day. They're all good. If you can post a good report on a fun trip for you post away! Even so, you really drove 3.5 hours for a ten mile hike, it just didn't work put that way.

Nice consolation prize though. I don't enjoy hiking ski trails myself but they do provide nice, constant views. Much better than the views I got when I went.

Image

I also always love those swirling clouds and half-a**ed undercasts. Not as good as a bluebird day, but I think they get second place in my book.


Sun Jan 10, 2016 5:08 pm
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 Re: Sugarloaf Mountain, ME (NE4K #62)- 1/8/2016
Granite Guy wrote:
hiker0200 wrote:
I almost decided not to post a TR from this trip (at the risk of getting told "Oh, why did you drive 400 miles for a 4.2 mile hike?")


Who would ever say such a thing?! :wink: But I don't know why you'd care if anyone did that. That's just their opinion. They can think what they like.


Eh, I guess I'm just mad at myself for making such a dumb mistake (driving down Stratton Brook Pond Rd when I shouldn't have) and allowing this brouhaha to happen. Then again, it's not the first time this has happened, and it prob'ly won't be the last 8)

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Sun Jan 10, 2016 5:40 pm
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 Re: Sugarloaf Mountain, ME (NE4K #62)- 1/8/2016
Your skills at remembering other stuff in the area didn't let your day go to waste. Tough luck about your car though. Was it required that you used snow shoes? It looked as if microspikes or the like would have sufficed. But then again I wasn't there.


Sun Jan 10, 2016 6:15 pm
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 Re: Sugarloaf Mountain, ME (NE4K #62)- 1/8/2016
thegibba wrote:
Your skills at remembering other stuff in the area didn't let your day go to waste. Tough luck about your car though. Was it required that you used snow shoes? It looked as if microspikes or the like would have sufficed. But then again I wasn't there.


IMO, they weren't required per se, but I didn't want to risk postholing those steep 2.1 miles. Plus, I just felt like using 'em. Gonna have to get used to climbing with them soon, so why not start now 8) ?

As for the car- the suckiness in the snow is a small price to pay for having impeccable gas mileage (usually average around 36 to 43 MPG on these long drives).

Oh yea, have you done anything new on the 67? I assumed you were going for it when I read your Mansfield report...

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Sun Jan 10, 2016 6:54 pm
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 Re: Sugarloaf Mountain, ME (NE4K #62)- 1/8/2016
hiker0200 wrote:

Oh yea, have you done anything new on the 67? I assumed you were going for it when I read your Mansfield report...


Nah, I'm not really interested at them moment The 67 will be there whenever I finish. After finishing the 48 I feel liberated. I can hike whatever i feel like, so I feel like I should expand beyond lists. There is so much more than just the lists. Having said that, once I get closer to the end of something I may as well close it out. Sunrise? Sunset? sure, (actually both have been much more common lately) there are too many options that i haven't been to before. Sunset is the same deal. Its become less of a goal than an experience. I just want to do cool/different S%#t. weather its a trail or a neat peak. Its all on the list. I'm down for anything other than the Lincoln woods trail.


Sun Jan 10, 2016 10:17 pm
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 Re: Sugarloaf Mountain, ME (NE4K #62)- 1/8/2016
hiker0200 wrote:
Might take a long weekend later in the season and do Spaulding (& Sugarloaf again) and the Bigelows, but next time, I'm parking on route 27 and taking the AT to SBPR. But then again, hike your own hike :wink: .

There is no parking at the Rt.27 AT crossing in winter (the lot is not plowed). Most folks park right at the end of Stratton Brook Pond Road (there's room for a couple cars just off Rt. 27) and walk the 1.5 miles to the summer trailhead.

A couple people drove that road last weekend, and got as far as you did (1 Jeep, 1 Subi Forester). Parked right along the side of the woods. There was a low-clearance 2WD car stuck at the bottom of that very hill that we pushed up (took 30 minutes), then went on our way. Going out was slightly more exciting, but both cars made it, but definitely not advised for the rest of the winter since more snow fell after our trip. Get 2" to either side of the snomo tracks, and, well, you saw what happens.

Always carry a shovel in your car in winter ;)

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Mon Jan 11, 2016 9:23 am
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 Re: Sugarloaf Mountain, ME (NE4K #62)- 1/8/2016
Urgh, that getting my car stuck thing is always something I'm wary of. That's partly why I recently bought an AWD vehicle and always carry a full size shovel!

Good for you for turning into another hike though. You are almost there with your 67!


Mon Jan 11, 2016 11:34 am
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 Re: Sugarloaf Mountain, ME (NE4K #62)- 1/8/2016
thegibba: Understandable. All the other cool stuff out there is one reason why I've been doing the 67 on an on & off basis. That, and it's not practical-and nor do I want to- drive 400-600 miles every weekend :shock:

Matt: I drove by the AT parking lot on ME 27, and I'm 99% sure it was plowed. Don't know if they'll keep plowing it if we get those 1 to 2 ft. snowstorms we got last year.

Dingo: After that, my parents gave me some grippy track-like pads you put on the snow underneath your tires which, if you can get the wheels close enough, will grip the tire and shoot you forward :mrgreen: ! Gonna buy a shovel too, obviously 8)

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Mon Jan 11, 2016 5:32 pm
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 Re: Sugarloaf Mountain, ME (NE4K #62)- 1/8/2016
hiker0200 wrote:
Matt: I drove by the AT parking lot on ME 27, and I'm 99% sure it was plowed. Don't know if they'll keep plowing it if we get those 1 to 2 ft. snowstorms we got last year.


Interesting. It hasn't been plowed in prior years. The AT lot on Rt. 4 wasn't plowed when we drove by fwiw. Didn't drive the extra mile up to see the AT lot. I don't think the distance is much different between the AT and walking the road. But if the lot is plowed, there's more parking there.

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Mon Jan 11, 2016 9:01 pm
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 Re: Sugarloaf Mountain, ME (NE4K #62)- 1/8/2016
madmattd wrote:
hiker0200 wrote:
Matt: I drove by the AT parking lot on ME 27, and I'm 99% sure it was plowed. Don't know if they'll keep plowing it if we get those 1 to 2 ft. snowstorms we got last year.


Interesting. It hasn't been plowed in prior years. The AT lot on Rt. 4 wasn't plowed when we drove by fwiw. Didn't drive the extra mile up to see the AT lot. I don't think the distance is much different between the AT and walking the road. But if the lot is plowed, there's more parking there.


On the way home, I stopped in the center for Maine Huts and Trails, and the lady there said the AT lot on route 27 gets plowed. I was surprised too, since like you, I knew that it was never plowed in past years...

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Tue Jan 12, 2016 2:53 pm
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 Re: Sugarloaf Mountain, ME (NE4K #62)- 1/8/2016
hiker0200 wrote:
On the way home, I stopped in the center for Maine Huts and Trails, and the lady there said the AT lot on route 27 gets plowed. I was surprised too, since like you, I knew that it was never plowed in past years...


Maybe this is a new policy then? With the Maine Huts and Trails system passing through that area and getting more traffic, plus talk of a new location in the Caribou Valley area (I forget exactly where, but I recall reading about it recently), this could indeed be a new, and welcomed, move.

Or perhaps just due to the lack of snow thus far this year. Or something else even.

I know that when we did our trip up that way last winter around New Year's, the AT lot on 27 was buried under a couple feet of snow, and the entrance had a 5-6' berm in front of it. I know of several other people throughout the winter last year that wanted to use that lot and it was never plowed out. And trip reports from prior years always reported it not being plowed either. Parking for the Bigelows in winter has historically been a tad tricky due to the need to park on Stratton Brook Pond Road but there is really nowhere to park more than 2-3 cars without blocking someone's driveway, or the snomo's path (which they REALLY don't like).

But if someone is going to keep the AT lot on 27 plowed, now that makes things a lot easier for people and is very welcome, regardless of the reason. Should make your Bigelow return easier. Enjoy that ridiculously steep Fire Warden's Trail ;)

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Tue Jan 12, 2016 4:32 pm
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 Re: Sugarloaf Mountain, ME (NE4K #62)- 1/8/2016
madmattd wrote:
hiker0200 wrote:
On the way home, I stopped in the center for Maine Huts and Trails, and the lady there said the AT lot on route 27 gets plowed. I was surprised too, since like you, I knew that it was never plowed in past years...


Maybe this is a new policy then? With the Maine Huts and Trails system passing through that area and getting more traffic, plus talk of a new location in the Caribou Valley area (I forget exactly where, but I recall reading about it recently), this could indeed be a new, and welcomed, move.

Or perhaps just due to the lack of snow thus far this year. Or something else even.

I know that when we did our trip up that way last winter around New Year's, the AT lot on 27 was buried under a couple feet of snow, and the entrance had a 5-6' berm in front of it. I know of several other people throughout the winter last year that wanted to use that lot and it was never plowed out. And trip reports from prior years always reported it not being plowed either. Parking for the Bigelows in winter has historically been a tad tricky due to the need to park on Stratton Brook Pond Road but there is really nowhere to park more than 2-3 cars without blocking someone's driveway, or the snomo's path (which they REALLY don't like).

But if someone is going to keep the AT lot on 27 plowed, now that makes things a lot easier for people and is very welcome, regardless of the reason. Should make your Bigelow return easier. Enjoy that ridiculously steep Fire Warden's Trail ;)



Come to think of it, I remember seeing a car parked in the AT lot on 27. Hopefully it keeps getting plowed!


Oh yea- do you know anything about the approach from East Flagstaff Rd (Safford Brook Trail)? Just curious, is all...

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Tue Jan 12, 2016 5:32 pm
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 Re: Sugarloaf Mountain, ME (NE4K #62)- 1/8/2016
hiker0200 wrote:
Oh yea- do you know anything about the approach from East Flagstaff Rd (Safford Brook Trail)? Just curious, is all...

Only that it's a long way to the ridge, and the climb up the Old Man's Head is extremely steep. And the approach probably gets zero winter traffic. And I think requires driving on some bumpy roads (in non-snow seasons), but I could be wrong on that one.

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Tue Jan 12, 2016 8:53 pm
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 Re: Sugarloaf Mountain, ME (NE4K #62)- 1/8/2016
madmattd wrote:
hiker0200 wrote:
Oh yea- do you know anything about the approach from East Flagstaff Rd (Safford Brook Trail)? Just curious, is all...

Only that it's a long way to the ridge, and the climb up the Old Man's Head is extremely steep. And the approach probably gets zero winter traffic. And I think requires driving on some bumpy roads (in non-snow seasons), but I could be wrong on that one.


I think Matt is correct. The access road is a snowmobile trail in winter. The route is steady up but I didn't think excessively steep or difficult. Climbs 2800 feet in 4.1 miles I think, with the last .8 miles from the OMH to the summit being the only really steep/rough part. Old Mans Head was a great vista. Made me want to go back for Little Bigelow sometime down the road. The campsites at Round Barn are the best I've ever stayed at. Right on the water, spaced out, and free. If you waited until summer and went this route you wouldn't be sorry.

Mini trip report...since I never got to post it back then :wink:

Camped here at Round Barn sites
Image

View of the Bigelows from Camp
Image

Safford Brook Trail starts right near the tent sites and looks like this much of the way
Image

Approaching OMH
Image

Looking down on the camping area on the shores of Flagstaff Lake
Image

Headed towards West peak from Avery
Image

Looking back at Avery from West
Image

The old fire tower lookout that is no longer there
Image

Katahdin in the distance
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Headed down towards Old Mans Head with Little Bigelow beyond
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The End :D


Tue Jan 12, 2016 11:11 pm
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