Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Backpacking the Forest Legacy Trails System – Each day Bulldog

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Skyline Trailhead
Doug Dunlap

Forest Legacy Trails is a 1272-acre tract of land on the west shore of Cupsuptic and Mooselookmeguntic Lakes, in Adamstown Township, west of Rangeley. Managed by the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Belief (RLHT), Forest Legacy provides 9 miles of climbing trails, and 5 lakeside campsites. I’ve lengthy needed to discover this path system and spend an in a single day at a type of websites, and eventually achieve this on this summer time of 2022.

Though the path system is open to the climbing public for free of charge, tenting for hikers or boaters is restricted to designated campsites and requires each a reservation and fee of a charge prematurely. Every of the 5 websites is restricted to at least one tenting get together solely. All such reservations are made by Cupsuptic Lake Park and Campground (CLPC) situated on Maine Freeway 16, 4.3 miles north and west of Oquossoc (cupsupticcampground.com; 207-864-5912).

I’m up for an excellent hike within the Maine woods – why not pack in a single day gear, take my time, and revel in a summer time night time tenting lakeside? This plan would permit ample time to discover many of the path community, with no rush to be out of the woods by dusk. I give the pleasant individuals on the Campground a name, reserve the Smudge Cove campsite on Cupsuptic Lake, and put together for 2 days within the Forest Legacy tract.

Getting There

The Forest Legacy Trailhead is on the finish of 0.5 mile Mud Pond Highway, off Maine Freeway 16, 5 miles west of the Cupsuptic Campground, and 4.5 miles west of the freeway bridge over the Cupsuptic River. Search for an indication 0.3 miles earlier than the left flip (south) to Mud Pond Highway, and one other signal, brown with orange lettering “Forest Legacy” on the flip itself. This gravel street ends at a parking space, gate, and a kiosk displaying a map of the path system.

My normal process is to hold a paper map on all my hikes. I choose two up on the Cupsuptic Campground on my approach to the path – one with contour traces, one with out however offering details about the historical past of the tract, and about land use right here. If I had uncared for to try this, I might take a photograph of the kiosk map with my cellphone. As it’s, I take a photograph anyway. If I ought to lose the map, or if I encounter hikers who have no idea the place they’re, and don’t have any map this offers me with an additional map to share. (I’ve encountered each circumstances when I’m on path) I now have a backup map on my cellphone – and I carry a spare cellphone battery in my pack.

Skyline Path to Mooselookmeguntic Lake
I discover the paper map to be helpful from the very begin, as a result of the primary part of my itinerary – climbing the Skyline Path 3.25 miles alongside the southern boundary of the Forest Legacy Path all the best way to the shore of Mooselookmeguntic Lake has a separate start line from Skid Highway, the opposite main path to the lakes. The Skyline trailhead is 30 yards again on the Mud Pond Highway, simply earlier than the parking space. An indication marks the spot the place the path enters the woods on a southward course, following the southern boundary. Because the identify implies, the path traverses excessive floor on the tract earlier than descending to the lakeshore.

Skyline Path can also be the place to begin for hikers who plan to take the Drop Down Path. Drop Down diverges from Skyline in 1.75 miles on Skyline Path, to succeed in Cedar Bay on Mooselookmeguntic Lake after an extra 1.0 miles. This route is a gradual descent. I don’t hike on Drop Down on at present’s hike, opting to discover Skyline Path over its complete size to the lake. One other descending path, Misplaced Noticed, seems on one in all my two maps, however not the opposite, as descending from a path junction solely 1 / 4 mile above Mud Pond. I see the overgrown pathway, however no signal, and conclude that it has been discontinued.

There are blazes galore on Skyline – shiny yellow to mark the boundary of the Forest Legacy property, and white to mark the path. This is a crucial distinction! Skyline Path and the boundary coincide for a part of the best way, diverge, rejoin, and diverge once more quite a lot of instances. Observe the white paint!

Skyline is a woods stroll for the almost all of its size, besides for 2 areas the place the path crosses low ridges and provides partial views by conifer forest in the direction of Mooselookmeguntic Lake. It begins with reasonable ascent by rock maple, white birch, and different hardwoods, drops right into a broad draw, climbs once more, skirts ledge outcrops, and continues this up and down sample over many of the first 2.5 miles. At 1.75 miles Drop Down Path diverges left (east) in the direction of Cedar Bay campsite. Shock! A ruffed grouse – a “partridge” domestically – explodes out of the underbrush – bursts off into thicker development. That will get my coronary heart charge up!

Finally I attain one of many increased sections of the path, a stand of crimson spruce with sufficient open area below the cover that I take pleasure in a view by the bushes of each Mooselookmeguntic Lake, and the ridge line of lengthy east-west operating, multi-peaked, Bemis Mountain, on the southern horizon. The method repeats, as Skyline drops right into a shallow col, earlier than rising to a different view southward, this time by a stand of balsam fir, 14-16” inches in diameter.

Within the final mile of Skyline Path I descend right into a boggy space the place moss-covered lavatory bridges – cedar logs ripped lengthwise and spiked finish to finish into cross beams – mark the best way. I put on climbing sneakers with good grip. In moist situations these bridges might be slippery. Mud Pond itself is reached by a 20 yard spur path. Water lilies are in full bloom on the day of my hike – a sea of yellow flower – and fairly the sight. A couple of steps extra deliver me to a ship dock on the excessive southern finish of the Forest Legacy property.

Vivid sky over Mud Pond lilies

Shoreline Path
The boat dock is by the intersection with Shoreline Path, which subsequent I observe northward for 3.5 miles to every my night’s campsite at Smudge Cove. Over most of this size the path passes inside view of, first, Mooselookmeguntic Lake, after which Cupsuptic Lake, passing brief spur trails to all 5 waterside tent websites.

In 0.4 miles I attain Eagle Cove campsite, the place I take pleasure in a nice view throughout the water to Bald Mountain in Oquossoc. From this angle, Bald has a definite high-rising domed form. This now-popular climbing peak was the unique alpine ski mountain in Rangeley, earlier than Saddleback Mountain was developed. Now the previous ski trails on Bald Mountain have grown again. A lot of the mountain is in Maine Public Reserved Land. A 1.3 mile climbing path leads from a trailhead on Bald Mountain Highway to an commentary tower on the summit. Views are hanging – the various expansive lakes within the Rangeley Lakes Chain, Mt. Washington, the Saddleback Vary, border mountains on the southern rim of Quebec.

Bald Mountain from Cedar Bay.

Subsequent stopping level on the Shoreline Path is Cedar Bay, additionally on Mooselookmeguntic Lake, and the place the Drop Down Path enters from the west. I proceed northward, slicing throughout the Eagle Level peninsula, which is non-public land, and never a part of Forest Legacy lands. The peninsula successfully divides Mooselookmeguntic Lake to the south from Cupsuptic Lake to the north.

As soon as these had been two separate our bodies of water, related by a thoroughfare. When Higher Dam was constructed between Mooselookmeguntic and Richardson Lakes, the ensuing rise in water stage joined the 2 lakes as one steady physique of water – the standing now.

As I cross the peninsula, out of sight of the shore, I cross a small beaver pond to the left of the path – so small that I almost miss it. This tiny wetland is filled with life – cattails, ferns, lavatory grass. Skid Highway path junction as subsequent, which connects Shoreline Path to the Forest Legacy trailhead and car parking zone. This can be a logging street, now grown over with grass, however simple to observe, and pretty simple strolling underfoot. I proceed in a northwest path on the Shoreline Path.

Shoreline Path

5 minutes of strolling brings me to Chilly Brook campsite spur path on the southwest nook of Cupsuptic Lake. I take the brief stroll to examine the location as one I’d select for a future journey. Bald Mountain is out of sight from Chilly Brook, however there’s a totally different view available right here, each bit as hanging as Bald Mountain. The pyramid peak of West Kennebago Mountain, a former hearth tower peak, instructions the northern horizon. I’ve hiked to that summit many instances, in heat months and in winter. The subsequent time I achieve this I will likely be on look ahead to Chilly Brook and the opposite websites on Cupsuptic Lake west shore.

Wild Panorama
For the remaining 1.5 miles of my hike I cross by forest of exceptional magnificence – glacial erratic boulders, irregular rock slabs, moss-draped forest flooring, crimson spruce and balsam fir, rock maple and moose maple. Although the path runs 100 toes inland from the water, I’ve good views of the lake by the understory. Right here and there blowdowns – indication of excessive north winds that batter this shoreline on occasion, cross the path. I climb over some, stroll round others – all fairly manageable.

At a four-way intersection, the Timberland Path enters from the west – a path to entry the trailhead and parking space on Mud Pond Highway. To the east, Timberland Path continues to Raven campsite on Cupsuptic Lake. I skip an inspection of the Raven web site, as a result of I used to be knowledgeable that it’s occupied. Straight northwest lies my vacation spot, Smudge Cove, 1.1 miles to go, the place the Shoreline Path ends. Extra moss, jumbles of rock, and a seasonal brook; some elevation achieve and loss to cross a low ridge that separates the cove by Raven web site from the cove at Smudge – and I attain house for the night time. Alongside the best way I spy moose scat, and that which I take to be of a fox or fisher – if not a coyote.

Smudge Cove Camo

In Camp
Now in camp, I arrange my one-person tent; roll out my sleeping bag; unpack and fluff my sleeping bag. Subsequent I arrange the camp kitchen, easy sufficient, because it consists of a single titanium pot, a cup, a backpack range the scale of my thumb, and a fork-spoon mixture. My supper, the makings of a double-portion hearty vegetarian stew, with whole-wheat biscuits and home made raspberry jam, stays in a meals bag I droop from a department. Final, I manage the rest of my gear – what little there may be – in logical piles within the tent: spare clothes layers; e-book, journal, spare batteries, and headlamp; first help provides. If I deliberate on a hearth I’d collect firewood at the moment, however the night will likely be a heat one, and is nice sufficient because the decreasing solar casts a gold sheen on the east shore of Cupsuptic Lake. This web site does include a hearth allow.

Camp arrange, I step to the lake, and into it! A dip in brisk Cupsuptic Lake water water is a fairly good approach to refresh after seven miles of climbing. Does that water really feel good! I observe that dip with that supper of scorching stew and biscuits. After clear up, I jot down notes from the day, and observe that by sitting on the picnic desk to look at the sunshine change on West Kennebago Mountain as night time falls, hear for the decision of loons within the lake. I wait, watch, hear, in no hurry in any way. The mild lap of lake water on the rocky shore, is the one sound to interrupt the good, broad silence of the night – that and the calls of loons.

West Kennebago Mountain past Cupsuptic Lake

To the sleeping bag!

Pre-Daybreak Awakening
I awake earlier than dawn to a lightening sky within the east – hues of rose and orange, sky turning from grey to blue, just a few streaks of clouds white with gold edges from the sunshine of the solar I’m but to see. Oatmeal, and a home made Morning Glory muffin I packed in, represent breakfast. Trout make rings in nonetheless waters only some toes from the place I sit on a rock looking throughout the lake. The solar touches the heights of West Kennebago – gold on these hills, if not in them. A fantastic quiet abides.

An admiral butterfly arrives, flits about my campsite, flies on. I step into the close by woods for an in depth take a look at nice swaths of moss coated boulders and logs. A small fir has taken root within the moss atop one refrigerator-sized boulder. Fairly the sight!

Time to maneuver out, to take the primary steps that can lead towards house. The space I cowl to return to the trailhead and my truck is lower than half that of yesterday’s hike. I’ll stroll Shoreline Path South to Timberland Path, and observe that to the higher part of Skid Highway. It’s all mild strolling, and at the most effective time of day to be within the woods – the early hours.

What’s subsequent for me and Forest Legacy? I’d certainly take this hike once more. Maybe I’ll paddle right here by canoe or kayak, as a day journey, or for an in a single day. This can be a Western Maine Mountains vacation spot to which I do plan to return – maybe with grandchildren – both by foot, or by paddle.

Deep appreciation goes to the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Belief, and the related Group Conservation Corps, for his or her stewardship of Forest Legacy!

The place are you headed on your subsequent journey?

Tenting word:

All campsites within the Forest Legacy Lands are by prior reservation and fee solely. Contact Cupsuptic Lake Park and Campground to make these preparations.

Textual content and photographs copyright Douglas Allan Dunlap 2022.

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