Difficulty: Strenuous, but not has difficult as Mt. Katahdin. This hike is at least 8 miles long (depending on the condition of the logging road leading to the trailhead) and travels up a steep rockslide near the summit.
How to get there: From the junction of ME 27 and ME 16 in Kingfield, drive north on ME 27 for 0.5 mile, crossing a bridge over the Carrabassett River en route. Turn left (west) onto West Kingfield Rd. At 3.3 miles from ME 27, the road becomes gravel. At a crossroads at 3.5 miles, proceed straight ahead on Rapid Stream Road. At 6 miles, reach a major fork. Take the left road. In about 100 yards, you will reach two bridges. After the second bridge, the road forks. Take the right road and walk 0.5 mile to a T intersection. The trailhead to the Fire Warden’s Trail (though the sign reads “Mt. Abraham Trail”), which will bring you to the summit of Mt. Abraham, is straight ahead.
Warning: logging roads are often in various stages of repair. As of August 2012, both of the bridges had been demolished. If the bridges are gone when you visit, park your vehicle to the side of the logging road before the first stream and walk the rest of the way on foot. The first stream is shallow and easy to cross by stepping on rocks. The second stream is larger. Be careful descending the slope to the water. Hikers can navigate a path of rocks to the left without getting wet.
Information: Mt. Abraham has an impressive ridgeline that extends for about 4.5 miles and consists of eight peaks ranging from 3,400 feet to more than 4,000 feet – the tallest being 4,049 feet above sea level and topped by an old fire tower. Located in Mt. Abram Township near the town of Kingfield and Sugarloaf Mtn., it is also referred to as Mt. “Abram.” When the weather permits, the summit offers a panoramic view that stretches from Mount Katahdin to Mount Washington.
Two trails ascend to the summit: Fire Warden’s Trail approaches the mountain from the Kingfield side and passes by a place for tenting (complete with a privy and fire pit that requires a permit) and Mt. Abraham Trail approaches from the northwest via the AT over Spaulding Mountain.
The Fire Warden’s Trail: From the trailhead, it is 4 miles to the summit of Mt. Abraham. The trail ascends gradually through deciduous forest and crosses several streams (rocks usually create a dry pathway across). At 1 mile, the trail crosses a logging road. At 2.6 miles, the trail leads to a campground with a privy. At 2.8 miles, there used to be an fire warden’s cabin, but it was removed in 2011. From that point, the trail climbs steeply for about 1 mile and emerges from the trees. After taking in breathtaking views of surrounding mountains, hikers must scramble up an impressive rockslide for the final 0.5-mile stretch to the summit. For a short distance, the trail will cut through a dense stand of stunted trees and become quite narrow. Don’t worry. If you lose site of blue blazes, follow cairns (rock piles) and look for the worn path. The summit is marked by a fire tower, which you can’t see until you near the end of the rock slide. To the left of the summit is a massive cairn. The entire hike is 8 miles from the trailhead and back; but if the bridges are gone on the logging road, that will add a mile to your hike.
No fees or permits are required to hike Mt. Abraham. The entire summit and most of the northern and eastern slopes are managed by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.
For geological information on Mt. Abraham, visit www.maine.gov/doc/nrimc/mgs/explore/bedrock/sites/aug06.htm. To learn about the rare plants on the mountain, visit www.maine.gov/doc/nrimc/mnap/reservesys/mtabraham.htm.
Personal note: Mt. Abraham is my favorite mountain in Maine because the trail leading to the summit is both challenging and beautiful in a number of ways. The challenge is in the length of the trail and the steep grade for the last 1.5 miles; and the beauty comes from the many streams and lush forest that eventually gives way to hard, alpine terrain near the top of the ridge. The last section of the trail, open to the elements, is something to look forward to. In August, my hiking buddy Derek and I stopped for blueberries and dodged noisy grasshoppers as they lit from the lichen-encrusted rocks. On the summit, we rested and ate sandwiches we picked up at Kingfield Convenience & Gas Irving on Main St. in Kingfield. Since this mountain is not as famous as some of the other 4,000-plus footers (Mt. Katahdin, Sugarloaf Mtn. and Mt. Bigelow), you will rarely run into other hikers when you’re out there. That said, bring a hiking buddy, tell someone where you’re going and bring emergency gear.