Via. The Fire Warden’s Trail 8 miles round trip
Mt. Abraham is located in Western Maine to the north of the town of Kingsfield and south of both Sugarloaf and Spaulding Mountains. It is a large mountain with over 4.5 miles of ridge line and 8 sub peaks, ranging in height from around 3,000 feet to just over 4,000. On the highest of the summits there is an abandon Maine Forest Service fire tower, as well as some other relics that were left behind. Due to the large treeless area on Mt. Abraham it has a higher alpine appearance than its hight normally allows for. This makes for some of the best views in the state on clear days and also for a dangerous hike in inclement weather. Once the exposed area is reached there is very little for shelter, except for a man made structure built on the summit, where someone could wait out a storm in relative comfort.
There are two trails to the summit, one is a side path off the Appalachian Trail that was cleared in 1987. It takes you 1.7 miles from the AT, to the summit but is a hike in from the nearest road, Caribou Valley Road over the summits of both Sugarloaf and Spaulding a total distance of about 6.6 miles one way. This approach would be recommended for someone doing a long haul, or through hike of the AT and less reasonable for someone looking for a day hike. That being said, this area contains 10 of Maine’s 4,000 footers and some people have called a loop hike starting at the Caribou Valley Road the 6 pack. This strenuous hike starts and ends at the Caribou Valley Road and covers the mountains of Sugarloaf, Spaulding, Abraham, Reddington, Crocker and North Crocker in one long day loop. There is another way to the summit that is less challenging and also usually quiet, it is the old Fire Warden’s Trail, located on Rapid Stream Road outside of the town of Kingsfield.
To reach the trailhead, go north on ME 27 from Kingsfield and turn left on West Kingsfield St. at the Jordan Lumber Company store, .2 miles north of the bridge over the Carrabassett River. At mile 3 the road becomes gravel but is still in very good condition. Go straight through a crossroads at 3.5 miles and at 3.7 miles it becomes Rapid Stream Road. At mile 6 the road crosses two bridges, once over them take the right fork and continue for another .5 miles. At the branch in the road you will see the trail sign in the woods. There are some turnouts for parking here, do your best to get your vehicle out of the road because there is active logging in the area and the roads are used.
The trail is blazed in blue and follows the southern bank of Norton Brook, it crosses the brook and continues up at a very easy grade. At .3 miles it crosses another logging road, this point can be reached by car if you take the right fork at the trail head and then go left in about a mile. From the road crossing, the trail continues at very easy and pleasant grades for another 2 miles and crosses the brook four more times. Eventually reaching a clearing where an old warden cabin once stood it is now a tent site with a privy and fire pit. There is a reliable brook to the right of it and this is the last water source for the hike. Once above the tent site the trail begins to climb steeply for about a mile and comes out at an old slide. The remainder of the trail is completely exposed from here to the summit. Follow cairns up the talus slope for about .5 miles. This is the second largest alpine zone in Maine of approximately 350 acres, it is second only to Katahdin. While it is well marked, use caution on the boulders as they can and do move unexpectedly. If caught in up there in low visibility follow the cairns or an old telephone wire down to the wooded section. As you gain the summit enjoy expansive views of the region, to the northwest, and south. The summit is marked with the steel remains of the old fire tower, a USGS marker and an old shelter that has been abandon but maintained by hikers. It is an impressive summit, with un inhibited views of all the surrounding mountains. If you venture south east on the ridge there is a large stone tower accompanied by a stone chair that makes a fine place to relax, enjoy the vista and have a snack.
Once done at the summit, turn around and carefully follow the trail back down through the boulders back to the wooded area of the trail. Hiking down to the tent site is steep but the footing is good. Once back at the tent site the hike out is very easy and the grades are mellow.
Overall the hike up Mt. Abraham is strenuous but not very difficult, from a technical perspective. There is ample water on the lower portions of the trail, but none in the last mile leading up to the summit so plan accordingly. While the views are some of the best around, this is also a very exposed peak once above the tree line. Always check the weather and keep an eye on potential storms. There were no obstacles on any section of the trail that posed a challenge for the dogs but boulder fields can be challenging for non experienced hikers and dogs alike. This mountain can be enjoyed by most people and their hiking companions with proper planning and execution.