Ascent of Mount Abraham on 2016-08-16

Climber: Aleksey Zinger

Date:Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Abraham
    Elevation:4040 ft / 1231 m

Ascent Trip Report

The driving directions in the AMC Maine Mountain Guide are pretty accurate this time, but the hiking directions seem less so.

From the junction of ME 16 and 27 in Kingfield, follow the two roads North for about .5 miles and take left (West) onto West Kingfield Rd. There is a street sign there and the turn is immediately before a lumber yard (which is far more visible than the street sign). This road is paved for the first 3.2 miles and is a smooth gravel road for the next .2 miles. At the junction 3.4 miles from ME 16/27, proceed straight onto Rapid Street Rd; there is a street sign there facing you for some reason. At the fork at 5.8 miles, take the left branch; the other branch proceeds straight. There is a faint sign ``Appalachian Trail" with an arrow there. You will soon cross two bridges. Take right at the fork right after the second bridge and park at the end of this road at a T-intersection. There is a trail sign there. The 2015 Delorme atlas shows all the relevant roads accurately, except it is missing the road continuing straight from the second bridge (i.e. the wrong branch at the last fork).

The trail starts by continuing the road you came on. It crosses 4 streams and 1 logging road in the first 2 miles or so and reaches the former site of the firewarden cabin, which has been replaced by a couple of tentsites and an outhouse. The first stream crossing may require getting one's feet wet after a good rain, but the other three should be fine. The trail climbs gently until the third stream and (very) steeply from there to the summit (with occasional flattish spots). The trail is very heavily blazed with fresh blue paint below the treeline and is marked with frequent, though generally small, cairns above the treeline. According to the trail sign at the parking lot, it is 2.1 miles to the tentsites and 4 miles to the summit; the AMC MMG says 2.8 and 4.5, respectively. I find the sign numbers more believable.

While this summit is 200 feet lower than Sugarloaf's, the trail on its cone is above treeline for 10-20 times longer. It was a nice sunny day today, very calm in the woods, but rather windy on parts of the summit cone. There are great views from the summit, and a little rock shelter just below the summit. Overall, this was a great way to finish NE4TF (12 years after WM4TF).

Most stretches on Rapid Stream Rd until the fork after the second bridge are somewhat rough, but quite drivable in a normal car. The two bridges and the little bit of the road between them are in excellent condition. The entire road after the last fork is very rough. It is only .5 miles though, so driving on it would save at most a few minutes over walking. There is a small parking lot just before the first bridge and a grassy turnout at the fork at 5.8 miles from ME 16/27. I parked my rented Corolla there to save it from going over the rough patch just before the first bridge. A couple from VT took their Subaru all the way to the trailhead, but they may have continued straight from the second bridge and then taken the first right; those roads looked much better. A pair of local hikers left their Subaru just before the first bridge. Rapid Stream Rd is so narrow in some places that there is no way for two cars to pass each other; one of them would have to backtrack to a turnout, possibly quite a bit. It is also used occasionally by logging trucks. If you want to minimize the chance of running into a car or truck going in the opposite direction, try going on a weekend at times when there is unlikely to be hiker traffic in the opposite direction.
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