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Carey Kish

Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island has been adventuring in the woods and mountains of Maine for, well, a long time. If there’s a trail—be it on dirt, rock, snow, water or pavement—he will find it, explore it, and write about it. Carey is a two-time Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, Registered Maine Guide, author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide (10th ed.), and has written a hiking & camping column for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram since 2003. Follow his outdoor travels and musings here, and on Facebook/CareyKish. Let Carey know what you think at MaineOutdoors@aol.com.

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Posted: September 23, 2014

Hike, bike, paddle: Fall is a great time to visit Maine Huts & Trails

Written by: Carey Kish

Summer’s out, fall is in. So says the calendar. And the weather, which is cool and blustery but sporting bright sun and blue skies on this day.

Late September is my favorite time of year. Of course I say something like that for every month and season because in the end I just love being in the Maine outdoors anytime.

This weekend coming up I’m headed to the mountains for a hike into the Maine Huts & Trails system for a remote overnight stay, some good food and company, and some fine views and fresh air. The colors might be pretty nice too, a bonus.

According to the official statewide report on Maine foliage, the colors in the Carrabassett Valley region as of the middle of last week were still very much green. But a new report is due out tomorrow, and by this weekend I’m sure a goodly number of maple and birch, beech and ash trees will have started turning. All good.

The plan is to hike into Stratton Brook Hut, the newest of the four backcountry facilities operated by Maine Huts & Trails. The hut is located at 1,800 feet on a knoll on the south slope of the Bigelow Range. I’ve never been, so I’m so looking forward to getting up into there. This will also be my first MHT visit on foot; all other times it’s been via skis in the dead of winter. This will be a real treat.

Stratton Brook Huts sits at 1,800 feet on the south slope of teh Bigelows. Photo courtesy Maine Huts & Trails.

Stratton Brook Huts sits at 1,800 feet on the south slope of the Bigelows. Photo courtesy Maine Huts & Trails.

And speaking of treats, well, that’s a big reason I’m headed in there this particular weekend, which happens to be the very special 2nd annual Harvest at the Hut dinner on Saturday night. The elaborate five-course meal will feature culinary creations by Chef Jordan Rolleston, locally-sourced and in-season fall foods to celebrate the onset of the autumn extravaganza in the mountains.

Check out the menu to see what I’m going to have to suffer through… somebody’s got to do it! This year’s Harvest dinner is sold out, but I’ll be reporting back to you post-trip on the delicious goings-on so you can be sure to put the event on your outdoor calendar for a year from now.

The Harvest at the Hut is an annual celebration of fall through lots of good, locally-sourced food. Photo courtesy Maine Huts & Trails.

The Harvest at the Hut is an annual celebration of fall through lots of good, locally-sourced food. Photo courtesy Maine Huts & Trails.

Stratton Brook Hut may be full up this Saturday night, but if you’re so inclined, the other three huts are also open, from Poplar Stream Falls to Flagstaff Lake to Grand Falls. All are terrific, each with their own unique character and always with friendly staff, good food, comfy beds, and hot showers!

There’s plenty to do in and around the Maine Huts & Trails system, from hiking the Appalachian Trail over the Bigelows to the many other side and loop trails that branch off. Plus there’re the Crockers, Sugarloaf and Burnt Mountain just across the valley and many more miles of hiking trails.

There’s also some pretty fine mountain biking at MHT as well as on the trails of the Carrabassett Outdoor Center. And there’s excellent paddling on Flagstaff and the Dead River. Bored you will not be! So bring your toys and come on up. Be sure to check out the complete calendar of stuff going on.

Bonus: The huts have two full-service lodging seasons: July through October 31 and the end of December through March 31. In late fall and spring the huts are open on a self-service basis at a significant discount. Stay, shower, cook your own meals in the kitchen and have fun.

MORE INFO: Maine Huts & Trails, (207) 265-2400.

The table is set for the 2nd annual Harvest at the Hut dinner at Stratton Brook Huts. Photo courtesy Maine Huts & Trails.

The table is set for the 2nd annual Harvest at the Hut dinner at Stratton Brook Huts. Photo courtesy Maine Huts & Trails.

 

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