Located in western Maine just east of the village of Stratton about 40 miles north of Farmington, Bigelow Preserve includes over 36,000 acres of public land. The preserve encompasses the entire Bigelow Range, which includes seven summits. The highest of these at 4,150 feet is West Peak, one of only 10 Maine summits over 4,000 feet in elevation. Bounded on the north by 20,000-acre Flagstaff Lake, the preserve offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation. Flagstaff Lake is part of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is an historic 740-mile watertrail through New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine. This is a popular three-season recreation area, with spring being the only time when there are few visitors. The Appalachian Trail and other trails as well as fishing, swimming, and camping offer a variety of outdoor activities at the Preserve. Fall foliage can be viewed from the roads and trails. Hunting and trapping opportunities range from easy vehicle access to foot access only in the backcountry areas. Fishing is plentiful in many small ponds and brooks. Winter visitors enjoy snowmobiling and cross country skiing over 20 miles of designated trails.
Five-star quality for three-star effort. Spectacular and rewarding 6-mile out-and-back fall hike starting at the trailhead on East Flagstaff Rd. It's moderate-easy exertion with a stream and views along the way, about 4 hours roundtrip for us with breaks, lunch, and side trip to Flagstaff shore.
Parked in a gravel pullout on the right side of East Flagstaff Rd, shortly after where Bog Brook Rd branches off Long Falls Dam Rd. Side trails from parking area take you to toilets, campsite, and Flagstaff shore.
AT sign marks the Little Bigelow/Avery Peak trailhead on left just beyond the parking area. Full trail sign with distances to peaks is just up the trail.
Trail is easy going through mixed hardwoods and follows a fine stream for the first third or so. At 1.3 miles or so there's a quick side trip to the AT lean-to and swimming hole called The Tubs.
From the lean-to/Tubs junction, the trail climbs moderately with some open ledges and views to Flagstaff and mountains beyond. Spectacular views from the top ledges: the Bigelow Range peaks, Flagstaff, Sugarloaf, Katahdin and distant peaks. Descent is fast and easy.
In short, Little Bigelow from East Flagstaff Rd. trailhead offers lots of bang for a modest amount of time and effort.
Fantastic hike, it was a perfect distance and the trail was well maintained. Fantastic views at the top! Hiked on May 4, above Moose Falls campsite there was still a lot of ice and snow at that point.
Some reviews mention crossing the brook at the base of the trail, there's a bridge now so no major crossings are necessary!
Firewarden's trail up, to West Peak, the Horns and camped at Horn Pond Campsite. Horn Pond was a welcome sight, we went for a swim to cool off! Hiked out Horn Pond trail in the morning, this was a nice easy hike out. Firewarden's trail was difficult for me as I do not hike this distance regularly and we were carrying gear to stay over. Will definitely do this again!
Fire Warden's Trail to West Peak, 1.9 miles to the Horns, stayed overnight at Horn Pond Campsite and trekked out 5-ish miles in the a.m. via horn pond trail. My longest and best trek for sure! Can also reach Avery/West peaks via Safford Trail from the south side of Flagstaff. Gorgeous day, stellar views!
Great hike. Stratton Pond up Fire Warden Trail to Avery back to Bigelow West to both Horns, down horn pond trail. Weather was 89 hazy. The total hike with some side hikes and walking to the car was 13 miles. You can park at the very beginning of Stratton Pond Trail, the area is small and ended up parking much further down the road.
I only did the Little Bigelow trail to "peak" and back. Sign at bottom says 3 miles to summit, however no markers whatsoever at the top. I went out 3.6 miles and saw some great views from a few rocks but no peak. I had a map, an app and asked hikers coming from other direction to confirm. Nice trail though. Check out The Tubs.
Great hike. It's marked as easy on this app, however it's definitely not easy. It's 5.8 miles out and back. Steep at times but couple level areas. Brought my dog (mixed breed terrier 25lbs) and he made it, but not sure how. Some boulders were steep and high. Peak was 360° views! Also make sure you check out The Cave on the way up.
This was a fabulous hike. We started out at the beautiful Stratton Brook Pond. Beautiful view of the Bigelows ridge right from the shore. They're currently building a new bridge to cross one of the streams nearby, but there are wonderful rocks set up for you to use and hop across. After a mile of the trail, which is wide and flat, you reach the Fire Warden's Trail. The FW trail is very gradual as you hike in toward the mountain. After ~1.7, you intersect with the Horns Pond Trail (comes in from the left). Then, the trail becomes a bit steeper, but nothing out of the ordinary. Once you are at about 3 miles, you are really at the mountain and the trail boasts some absolutely gorgeous but steep stairs. Look behind and you can see Sugarloaf through the trees, as well as the pond where you started!
I love exposed ridges on hikes, so this next part was absolutely a must-see. We ascended from the col to bag Avery Peak, tip-toeing across some jagged rocks and withstanding some freezing winds. Worthwhile, though, because once you reach the peak you've got 360 views of Flagstaff Lake, Sugarloaf, Baxter Peak in the far off distance, and maybe even some of the Whites. It's one of the best views in Maine.
We descended from Avery and went to get West Peak, too, which was also gorgeous. We continued on the loop to see the pond, thinking we would skirt around The Horns but instead finding the AT actually summiting. Oh, well! Looped around to Horns Pond at 3000, but we didn't really see much of the pond from the main trail since the leaves were still on the trees.
All in all, I think we did more like 14.5 miles to get all the way back down. The Horns Pond trail is great for the descent because it's very gradual and easy on the knees and ankles.