|Hiking Trail Conditions Report
|Little Bigelow Mountain, Bigelow Mountain - Avery Peak, Bigelow Mountain - West Peak, ME
|Appalachian Trail, Little Bigelow Lean-To side trail, Safford Notch Campsite Spur, Old Man’s Head Spur, Safford Brook Trail
|Date of Hike:
|Sunday, August 20, 2023
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
|East Flagstaff Rd is dirt and a little rough at times but should be okay with low clearance. Small-mid sized lot for a half dozen to a dozen cars at Safford Brook Trail where we spotted a car. I think we got one of the last spots around 9:45am. The AT lot 4.25mi east was mostly full but this was largely due to trail magic happening in the parking lot. We were able to parallel park by the outhouse. Generally speaking I’d say this lot could hold a dozen plus cars.
|Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant
|Water Crossing Notes:
|The crossing of Safford Brook is an interesting one. Going directly across was deep but slow moving water. Just downstream to the right you could carefully balance on a log dam to get across. Just upstream it looked like you could hop across along a rockier section as well.
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
|The AT is obviously blazed in white. Blazing was mostly fresh. I don’t recall how frequent it was but I didn’t find it hard to follow. Safford Brook Trail was blazed in light blue. I think it was usually faded. I don’t recall how frequent the blazing was but it wasn’t too hard to follow and just a bit overgrown in a few spots I think. I think the major spur trails (like the ones needed for redlining listed above) were blazed in blue and east to follow. Little Bigelow Lean-Tos blazing was fresh. Trail signs were intact. Overall the blowdown situation was pretty good. One that had been partially taken care of but could use some more work as it’s still in the trail about 30-35min east of Safford Notch that’s mid-sized. At least one large widowmaker overtop the trail coming beginning to climb out of Safford Notch to the west that I’m sure will remain there, and a small step over on the northernmost part of Safford Brook Trail that descends to Flagstaff Lake. Likely a few others I’m forgetting about as well. The crossing of Chase Brook on the Little Bigelow Lean-to spur was a little odd if I remember correctly but you could certainly do it with dry feet.
|Some scrambling but nothing too tricky so I’d imagine most hiking dogs could handle it. I don’t recall if we saw any.
|The CCC said they were bad in the parking lot so we threw on the bug goop but I didn’t notice them until the evening toward the end of our hike and even then they weren’t all that awful.
|Lost and Found:
|We found a pair of aviator sunglasses at hung at the jct of Safford Brook Trail and the AT. We brought them down and hung them at the trailhead for the AT.
|Yesterday was the CCC’s first 4000 footer in NH, and today she got two more in ME! And her longest hike to boot!! All the spur trails needed for redlining I listed as trails above. They were all signed EXCEPT Safford Notch Campsite which was only signed once you nearly reached it…kind of weird. But it’s shown on Gaia and the left hand turn isn’t hard to see.
The hike to Little Bigelow Lean-To was pretty easy. From there to the ridgeline had some ledge and steeper sections but was scenic. The walk along the ridge was nice. Note that the true summit of Little Bigelow is opposite the summit sign and in the woods a few dozen yards at most. There’s a little view nearby. Long hike from there down to Safford Notch. As anticipated, the climb from the notch up to the Bigelows was most unwelcome at this point in the day. The trail meanders through the notch for a ways with some slightly rough footing but isn’t too bad. The climb out of the notch is long and has some very steep sections but really isn’t scrambly. Generally speaking, once on the ridge, the climbing gets a bit easier. The CCC loved getting above treeline on Avery Peak. A huge thank you to the lively group of thru hikers and tramily that took our photo there :) Short but steep OAB to West Peak from there. We had the summit of West Peak to ourselves which was a nice treat.
Needless to say, the climb back down to Safford Notch was much quicker than the ascent. Some wet slab that had us down on our butts descending but again nothing terribly scrambly. The way the guidebook described Safford Notch had me worried we might be doing a little boulder scrambling on our descent but coming down Safford Notch Trailnwas very quick and easy. Although I’d say it’s a bit ambiguous as to whether or not it’s needed for redlining, we did hike the additional 0.25mi down to Flagstaff Lake from the parking area along the northernmost section of Safford Brook Trail. What I believe was the true trail here does get rather narrow. We then followed a path to Round Barn Land and walked that back to the east Flagstaff Rd next to the car.
There were MANY mud pits that were quite significant along these trails. Of course I don’t remember where they were but I want to say that it was between Little Bigelow and Safford Notch where we saw the most of it. Gaia had us at 15mi, 4300ft of gain, 9.5hrs. This finishes up redlining the trails on the Bigelows for me :)
|Liam Cooney and the CCC
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.