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22 September 2013

A Trek to Cranberry Peak in Maine's Bigelow Mountain Range

This was my very first foray into Maine's Bigelow Mountain Range.  Wow!  I was very favorably impressed.  There's a good chance I'll be returning there in the future for other hiking adventures!

This 5.8 mile (round-trip) hike began at the far western end of the mountain range by using the Bigelow Range Trail.

Sign at trailhead
The trailhead is reached by driving 0.8 mile south of the village of Stratton on Rt. 27  and then turning onto Currie Street (opposite the town's ball field).  Once on Currie Street, you drive 0.3 mile to the trailhead parking lot.

It's a minor issue, but AMC's Maine Mountain Guide spells the name of the street as "Curry" rather than "Currie", and it states that you drive 0.7 miles to the trailhead parking.  However, as shown in the next photo, the name of the street is "Currie". And, as the M.A.T.C. signage correctly indicates, it is only a 0.3 mile to the trailhead.
Signage at intersection of Rt. 27 and Currie Road 
The trail ascends moderately for about the first mile, and then begins to ascend steeply.  And in addition to being steep, there are several scrambles over boulders and ledges along the way.   Despite the steepness and scrambles, the trail has many sections that are very attractive.  A couple of examples are shown in the next photo collage.
A couple of examples of the many attractive segments of the Bigelow Range Trail
It should also be mentioned that about 30 minutes into the hike, you will come to the sign that is shown in the next photo.  I have no idea what this is all about!  There was no mention of it in the Maine Mountain Guide.  All I can say is that you should go in the direction of "Dry Trail Ahead".  The "Panberry Creek" corridor appears to be overgrown, and I have no idea where it leads you!  Perhaps a reader of this Blog can provide some information about this sign.
"Mystery" trail sign seen along the route to Cranberry Peak
After several steep pitches and scrambles over ledges and boulders, the terrain suggested I was nearing the summit.  Wrong!  I looked up and could see the bare rock summit looming ahead of me in the distance (see next photo).
Approaching bare rock summit of Cranberry Peak
Actually, the final scramble to the top of Cranberry Peak (shown above) was very short and mild-mannered.  And the views from the summit and surrounding ledges were simply breathtaking!
Looking eastward along the Bigelow Range toward Cranberry Pond and The Horns
Looking a bit southeasterly from Cranberry Peak
Looking eastward toward Sugarloaf Mountain
Looking a bit northeasterly with the eastern end of Flagstaff Lake in sight
Looking northwesterly with the western end of Flagstaff Lake in sight
A slightly zoomed view of Cranberry Pond
A zoomed view of various peaks along the Bigelow Mountain Range
There are two spur trails along the route to Cranberry Peak.  One leads to a deep cleft known as Arnold's Well. Any water that might be in this cleft is unsuitable for drinking.  The other spur leads to what is known as The Cave (see next photo).  It's an interesting spot and worth walking the few hundred feet to take a look.
"The Cave" as viewed from a short spur trail off the Bigelow Range Trail

To sum it up, this was a magnificent first-time hiking experience in Maine's Bigelow Mountain Range.  There are high hopes of returning here for other hiking adventures.


Steve Smith said...


Great photos and report on a beautiful area! I've not been to that end of the Bigelow Range. Many hikers feel the Bigelows are second only to Katahdin as a mountain area in Maine. West and Avery Peaks are great, but probably my favorite spot was the North Horn, jutting out towards Flagstaff Lake. Lots to explore there!


1HappyHiker said...

Thanks Steve!

As you say, there's definitely lots to explore in the Bigelow Range! Don't know if it will happen this calendar year, but in 2014 I hope to visit the peaks that you have visited, i.e. West and Avery Peak, and the Horns.


One Day in America said...

Hi John,

Yes I'm still here, but my time online in the past two weeks has been sporadic at best.
I see you've returned to Maine to do some hiking and it looks like you had perfect weather for it!
I have never heard of the Bigelow Mountain Range but, judging by the photos on this post, it's a very worthwhile destination. The trail looks lovely—so lush and green—and Flagstaff Lake is huge. Is the area part of the national forest system?
Thanks again for a great post, and for introducing me to a new area to explore the next time I'm in the northeast!

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Rita,

I sort of figured that you’re still busy with the aftermath of moving to your new home.

Just as a follow-up to your question, the Bigelow Mountain Preserve, was established by the people of Maine in a June 1976 referendum. The 36,000 acre preserve is governed by the Maine Department of Conservation, and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Many consider the Bigelow Range as a close second to Maine's Mt. Katahdin in terms of hiking and great ridge walking.

More information about the Bigelow Mountain Preserve can be accessed by cutting and pasting the following link into your Internet browser.


Summerset said...

Hmm . . I'm sensing a fruit theme here. Probably just coincidence! Very tantalizing photos, as we'll be in Maine next summer for a nice jaunt along the AT, ending in the Bigelows. We probably won't be on the trail you took, but the information and photos are certainly inspiring!

1HappyHiker said...

Summerset, I’m impressed that you picked up on the “fruit theme” for my recent forays into Maine, i.e. Cranberry Peak, and Blueberry Mountain. But, as you suggest, this was actually just by coincidence.

Regarding the Maine adventure you have planned for next summer, you will undoubtedly LOVE the hiking there. It is so super terrific!

Thanks as always for your comments!


Dreselly Travels said...

Thanks for your excellent photographs, evoking great memories for me, who with my wife maintained that trail from Stratton to the A.T. for about 25 years with some breaks (1971-1999). The only mystery about that sign I made is "mystery" in your caption. It could hardly be more clear in pointing down to the adjacent last drinking water source before the peak (a spring) and upward to the dry trail ahead. Panberry Creek is my spoonerism of Cranberry Peak. BTW, if you hike the w.hole trail to its end at the AT just beyond Cranberry Pond, a beautiful tarn, you can hike down the AT to the highway and hitch back to Stratton, or spot cars, both easier and maybe more interesting than retracing the trail. Beginning at that AT juncture is a cascading series of the highest beaver dams I've ever seen, now overgrown and minus the beavers that followed the logging there long ago. About there, on the right, is a spring by a big rock, the first drinking water source since Panberry Creek.
Dick Dreselly

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks so very much for reading my blog and for your kind words about the photos. And special thanks to you for providing information about the “Panberry Creek” sign. Now it’s no longer a “mystery” to me! (smile).

And last, but certainly not least, I want to thank you and your wife for the labor and time you dedicated to maintaining that segment of the Bigelow Range Trail for a span of 25 years! Your dedication is very admirable.

All the best to you!

John Compton
Bethlehem, NH