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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: July 31, 2018

Hiking in Maine: Conservation project is a winner

Written by: Carey Kish

A landmark conservation project in western Maine was announced late last month, much to the delight of hikers, backpackers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

The long-awaited deal protects more than 10,000 acres along the Appalachian Trail corridor, securing future public access and ensuring that the property remains a working forest, good things for the area’s burgeoning outdoor recreation economy as well as its timber economy.

The 9,580-acre Redington Forest conservation easement surrounds the 4,010-foot summit of Mt. Redington, while the 1,155-acre Lone Mountain easement conserves a significant portion on the north slopes of that peak. The Redington and Lone Mountain lands close gaps in what is now a 60,000-acre swath of conservation protection ranging from Long Falls Dam Road east of the Bigelows to Route 4 west of Saddleback.

The Trust for Public Land, the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust and the U.S. Navy, which operates a remote wilderness training facility adjacent to these lands, partnered in the five-year effort to purchase the easements. Most of the funding was provided by the Navy through their Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program. The High Peaks Alliance, Maine Mountain Collaborative, Wilderness Society and Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, among other conservation concerns, were also involved.

Mt. Redington is centrally located amid the jumbled mass of rugged mountains that comprise the High Peaks Region, where 10 of Maine’s 14 4,000-foot summits are found. From Avery Peak and West Peak, North Crocker and South Crocker, Sugarloaf and Spaulding to Abraham, Saddleback and The Horn, and, of course, Redington, it’s an impressive chunk of wild country, threaded together by the AT.

A trek up Mt. Redington earns you some fine vistas and a genuine sense of remoteness, and if you haven’t yet made the journey, well, I highly recommend it. Redington is the only 4,000-footer in the state without a trail and requires a 1.3-mile bushwhack to attain the top.

A good herd path, not officially marked or maintained, connects the AT on the summit of South Crocker Mountain with the top of Redington.

Once a fierce bushwhack, this path has become increasingly popular with peak baggers and, as such, is beaten down and pretty obvious the entire way, with bits of colored surveyor’s tape marking the route. But even so, an attempt on Mt. Redington should not be underestimated. Hikers must be prepared for travel in rough terrain with proper gear and the requisite navigational skills.

Prior to the development of the herd path, logging on the eastern slopes of Mt. Redington enticed hikers to avoid the difficult bushwhack by ascending via a series of logging roads and skidder trails from Caribou Pond. Then, to many hikers’ dismay, a work road was constructed to the summit to service an experimental wind gauge tower, making the ascent that much easier. The wind power project proposal was eventually withdrawn and the tower removed.

Redington’s summit is now being reclaimed by forest but good views remain. A register canister attached to a tree in the thick fir growth adjacent to the summit clearing still bears the old pre-1989 U.S. Geological Survey elevation of 3,984 feet.

Mt. Redington is a round-trip hike of eight miles with 3,100 feet of elevation gain, so strong hikers can certainly do it in a day. But I recommend making it an overnight adventure by pitching your tent along the AT at Crocker Cirque Campsite, tucked in below the steep slopes of South Crocker Mountain.

From Route 27, one mile north of the Sugarloaf ski area access road, drive south on Caribou Valley Road for 3.8 miles to a yellow gate and parking. The AT is a half-mile ahead; turn north on it to reach Crocker Cirque and South Crocker Mountain.

Atop South Crocker, where the AT bears right and down, bear left and up a side trail, which leads to a great ledge viewpoint and the start of the Redington herd path. The path follows the yellow-blazed AT corridor boundary at first before bearing away, descending 500 feet, then climbing slightly to an old skidder road in the saddle between the peaks. Turn right here to finish the climb to Redington.

The ascent of Mt. Redington is fully described in the new 11th edition of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide, which is due out this month.

 

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