|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||McGaffey Mountain, ME|
||Round Top Trail, A Trail, herd path, unknown trail, unknown road, Prescott Road, bushwhack|
|Date of Hike:
||Sunday, November 27, 2022|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||Medium sized parking lot at the jct of Watson Pond Rd and Wildflower Estates. No idea if it’s plowed in winter but it seems decently well used so I’d tend to think so. Right now, there’s little to no snow in it. One other car there when I arrived and returned. Room for maybe a dozen or so. |
||Dry Trail, Snow - Trace/Minimal Depth, Wet Trail, Ice - Blue, Wet/Slippery Rock, Ice - Breakable Crust, Snow/Ice - Frozen Granular, Leaves - Significant/Slippery, Snow/Ice - Small Patches |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||There was a crossing on A Trail that I imagine, while not wide, would not be rock hopable at high water as there aren’t too many rocks to hop on. I’m guessing that this had to be the crossing of the main drainage between Round Top and McGaffey. This day, it was rock hopable. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||A Trail is not blazed and is rarely marked. That said, the main trail itself is usually quite easy to follow as it’s along old roads and the footpath isn’t terribly obscure. Just one part at the beginning that could be confusing (see notes below). Watch for turns on/off roads but I normally found them pretty obvious. There’s signs every so often indicating that the trail is unfinished and unmarked. The only real challenging part is the “hiking trail” 0.2mi long as described in the guidebook that cuts out a long switchback. That is very challenging to follow and is only marked with surveyors tape. See notes below about that. One or two trivial stepovers, then a larger spruce blowdown up high along the A Trail part of the loop jct up top. I believe it wasn’t too far from the loop jct. A herd path has formed around it. |
|Lost and Found:
||After our Crocker and Redington traverse the day prior, Kyle and I were supposed to tackle Sugarloaf, Spaulding, and Abraham but for a variety of reasons, that was not in the cards and I hiked this low elevation redline instead. |
I started off on the A Trail which, will unsigned and unmarked, has signs telling you this is the case…the start of the trail is near the road/beginning of parking lot. Where the trail bends north a tenth of a mile north of the parking lot, I lost it. It seemed like it turned left over some large rocks and boulders and I did walk a short distance this way, but thought “Nahh, they wouldn’t make a bike trail over rocks this large”, so then looked elsewhere. The trail is NOT through the stone wall where there’s a boundary blaze. Continuing to have trouble, I returned to the parking lot, and followed the Round Top Trail to where A Trail crosses it. This was easy enough to spot (more “unfinished unmarked” “use at your own risk” signs) and did an out and back on the section I had trouble following, noting that it did indeed basically go over the boulders/rocks I thought it wouldn’t. It does weave through them though and sort of missed a turn earlier which is why I had trouble finding it. Anyway, once doing this out and back, I continued up A Trail, often on old roads that are easy to follow. The trail parallels Round Top Trail for a ways just south of Yallaly Hill, before descending gently toward the drainage between Round Top and McGaffey mountains, and nearing Wildflower Estates Road.
After a long walk, I reach the huge switchback around 800ft. When you pop out onto the road from a footpath and turn left, you’ll see a small cairn ahead of you. Continue straight directly opposite the road, and look for flagging: this is the hiking trail 0.2mi long that the guidebook describes. That said, there is hardly a footbed. Look for orange and some yellow flagging and expect to have trouble following it. I didn’t the first time and followed the switchback to its end and tried to pick up the trail there instead. I did so in the wrong place however and couldn’t find it. There’s a couple minor switchbacks before the hiking trail comes back in. Look for orange flagging where there’s a bent pole hung to a tree.
Continue to a loop jct at 1100ft. Though the in-text map in the guidebook shows a loop, it’s not described; only the southern half of the loop which is the A Trail described. You’ll likely miss the other half of the loop and continue on A Trail to the summit. Just BEFORE reaching the little summit ledge, the other part of the loop leaves left. Very easy to miss but much easier to see as you begin to head back. It wasn’t very hard to follow.
On my way down, just to mix things up, I followed the road that forms the western half of the huge switchback down. Wildflower Estate and Prescott Rd seem to be the same road though Gaia shows them separately. SW of Yallaly Hill there’s signs asking you to follow a road back to the hiking trail. I guess this is private property. I whacked alongside the road in the woods so as not have to ascend along the trail to Yallaly Hill and add more distance.
Overall, this is the longest trail to the shortest mountain I’ve ever done and will likely ever do; sort of quizzical really. I found and followed the flagging on the “hiking trail” on the way down much better. If you’d like help finding it, feel free to email. Ground conditions were mostly dry with some occasional patches of snow with minor ice. Not worth even bringing the spikes though. With recent weather, I imagine things are wetter but not all that much snowier.
||Liam Cooney |
Disclaimer: Reports are not verified - conditions may vary. Use at own risk. Always be prepared when hiking. Observe all signs. Trail conditions reports are not substitutes for weather reports or common sense.