Sugarloaf Traverse – 6 peaks in a day in Longfellow

6 peaks in one day in the Longfellow Range to finish off the New England 4000 footers.

I’m not sure if this is a thing or not, but I happened to have 6 peaks left (after yesterday’s Bigelow/Avery hike) and noticed that they were all fairly contiguous so could be done as a single hike.  I would start at Route 27, hike down the AT to get the Crocker mountain peaks and bushwhack Reddington.  Then I would head over to Sugarloaf and run the ridge to get Sugarloaf, Spaulding, and end on Abraham, descending to the valley from that peak.  The AT makes a highway of sorts linking all of the peaks.  In retrospect, it probably makes two more reasonable hikes because the Caribou Valley Road gap splits up the hike very nicely in half.  But I’m not usually reasonable and this way definitely sounds more fun.

I left around 5am, getting dropped off at the Route 27 AT parking lot.  The climb from there to the Crockers is a steady but gradual climb on a pretty boring but solid section of the AT.  From North Crocker, it’s an easy up and down to South Crocker.  That’s where things get interesting on the “bushwhack” over to Reddington.  There is nothing bushwacky about this really.  It’s a very easy to follow trail, however it’s pretty unmaintained so there are a lot of trees to go over and under.  Kinda like a little obstacle course.  The top of Reddington did not have a great view but there was a nice clearing for a morning snack.

From there down the side of South Crocker things got really steep, the steepest slope of my whole weekend.  I also started to see hikers here, a mix of day hikers and thru-hikers.  There was a nice campground after the steepest part and then you hit Caribou Valley Road.  A lot of the day hikers drive up here, but I was warned by several people to not do it without pretty good clearance on your car.  Otherwise you probably could save some overall mileage by coming up this path.  Honestly, after seeing the trail on the side of Crocker I think I preferred walking the extra several miles in exchange for gradual trail.

After stopping for a lunch at the pleasant river crossing there, I headed up the side of Sugarloaf.  The sun was out in full force and I was getting a bit tired at this point but I managed to crawl up the hill to the turnoff for the Sugarloaf summit spur.  I had a great conversation with Deadweight on the way up about what it would mean to finish the trail shortly. The 2000 mile marker was on top of Crocker so a lot of the thru-hikers that I met this day were focused on that milestone. The spur trail up was longer than I expected it to be but the view on Sugarloaf was quite worth it, the first real 360 view of the day.  However, I only stayed long enough to chat with a local, because I don’t really enjoy ski slope peaks as much with all the traffic and buildings.

The trail across to Spaulding was pretty easy, but the peak wasn’t quite as good as mentioned online on several sites. There are views but they are only from spurs that give you isolated views, like a good one back toward Sugarloaf. From there I encountered a large cluster of thru-hikers (Carbon and Lucifer/Frisbee were two) and some other backpackers on my way toward Abraham.

Though I saw from Sugarloaf that Abraham was somewhat bare and talked about the fire that caused it with the local, I wasn’t quite prepared for the summit approach. It was the most bouldery scramble I had done the whole weekend and in general outside of the Whites. But it definitely created a dramatic close to the hike with the wind whipping across the top of the bare, boulder-strewn summit. The trail down from the summit was very steep and bouldery for the first drop but the last several miles were the most gentle of the whole day and I almost ran past the other day hikers also working on their 4000-footer lists.

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