Hiking Mt Spaulding is an opportunity to bag a 4,000-footer but also hike an especially historic trail. Just between the summits is a boulder with a small monument marking the final completed section of the 2,184-mile Appalachian Trail.
|The final section of the Appalachian Trail, between Mt Spaulding and Sugarloaf|
My final day spent in the Rangeley-Carabassett Valley area was spent hiking Mt Spaulding, a "just-barely" 4,000-footer in Western Maine. I really didn't know how historic this part of the trail was until I saw advertisements for a celebration of the Appalachian Trail's 75th birthday. What a wonderful way to celebrate- hike the final leg which created a 2,000+ mile long trail! I was excited with this coincidence.
I decided my last day would be a nicer, more relaxed day so I took the ski-resort route up to the summit of Sugarloaf and then on to Spaulding. I'd been up here on a late fall hike and it was much different with all the leaves gone but no snow. The summit of Sugarloaf is developed but nevertheless has incredible views. At this time of year you might be sharing the view with a dichotomous crowd of weather-worn thru-hikers and families with small children!
|Overlooking the spectacularly rugged Bigelow Range|
Its about a 6-mile round trip from the summit of Sugarloaf to Mt Spaulding and is relatively tame by AT standards. The trail stays mostly on the ridgeline between the two and offers some nice little windows of views. Just about halfway between the two lies the monument to the workers who completed the trail. Its not much of a monument but then again, the natural environment is more beautiful than anything that could be build here! I thought it was perfectly appropriate.
|Just a mossy boulder with a small description!|
As I trudged up the trail to Mt Spaulding from this spot, I thought what a crazy idea it must have been to invent a 2,000-mile trail that was built to see the wild country rather than as a means of transportation. I don't know my trail history well, but I imagine this was the first time such a trail of the AT's size was ever made. Its spawned many other long distance trails from Florida to California so I was feeling very grateful. Just like the National Park Service, it was a unique idea and a wonderful contribution to the people from this country.
|Summit of Sugarloaf|
|Looking towards the Quebec border|
The 4,009ft summit of Mt Spaulding was nothing special, just a few open vistas among the thick forest but I was content. Little areas of wonder and historical significance always seem to pop up with this quest to hike all the 4,000-footers. I think that's the real reason why the 4,000-footer list has any significance. Otherwise its just an arbitrary list of slightly taller mounds.
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