Four Peaks in the Maine/Canada Boundary Range
November 13 & 14, 2004

by Papa Bear

(Photo of Boundary Bald)
Above tree line on Boundary Bald
Photo by Bob Hayes
(Click on this or any picture for a larger image)

Click on an entry to jump to a particular section:

The Boundary Range

Saturday November 13: "Boundary Peak" (NEHH)
Saturday November 13: Mont Gosford (Quebec)
Sunday November 14: Boundary Bald (NEFF)
Sunday November 14: Coburn Mountain (NEFF)

Click here for a albums of Boundary and Gosford
Click here for a albums of Boundary Bald and Coburn

Return to Papa Bear Home Page


The Boundary Range: Peaks on or near the Maine/Canada Border

O

n Friday afternoon, November 12th, I met Gerry Hayes at the Concord NH bus station and we were off to meet her husband Bob and Julie (Cantdog) for a weekend of hiking and climbing in western Maine and the nearby section of Canada. The ironic thing was that Bob & Gerry and I were together for this weekend due to a misunderstanding. I had posted a note on VFTT stating that I was interested in one more trip to Maine before winter set in, and that I was after certain peaks on the New England Fifty Finest list including "Boundary Bald". Bob picked up on this and said that he and Gerry were also interested in "Boundary Peak" and that Julie might want to come along too. I quickly explained that "Boundary Bald" was not the "Boundary Peak" on the New England Hundred Highest list that they were after, but that it was not too far distant so why don't we work out a 2 day schedule and do both "Boundarys". So we did.

So here I was in Bob's 3/4 ton GMC SUV heading up to Stratton Maine. We ate at an Irvine truck stop on the Maine Turnpike, and after agreeing to get going at 6:30 AM the next morning and head up Route 27 through Canada to bag "Boundary Peak" (NEHH) and hopefully (if the weather held) to bag the nearby Mont Gosford, we hit the sack at the White Wolf Inn.

A word on the so-called "Boundary Range". When the exact location of the Border between the United States and Canada was agreed upon in the 19th century, the section of nearly 150 miles from the headwaters of Halls Stream (a tributary of the Connecticut River
(Photo of Boundary Monument #446)
Boundary Monument #446
Photo by Bob Hayes
in the northern tip of New Hampshire) up to Little Saint John Lake (the headwaters of the Southwest Branch of the Saint John River, about 50 miles north of Jackman) was defined to be the devide between the Saint Lawrence River watershed (streams and rivers flowing west and north) and the Kennebec and Penobscot watersheds (streams and rivers flowing east and south). The border was surveyed in 1842 and a series of monuments were erected along the boundary line and the line was cleared on either side, providing a "swath" along which surveyors, border patrol or hunters and hikers could walk. Since the boundary follows the watershed devide, it tends to go over the crests of a series of mountains. This group is collectively known as the "Boundary Range" and is considered to be a part of the Appalachian Mountains, although the peaks tend to lie north and west of the main Appalachian Ridge in Maine which follows the Mahoosucs, Baldpate, Saddleback, Sugarloaf, the Crockers and the Bigelows and ends at Katahdin. The more mountainous territory of the Boundary Range lies on Maine side of the border and includes many peaks from the Connecticut Lakes area of NH on up though the area around Jackman. Most of the peaks are relatively unknown and are on private timber country land. The highest peak in the range is Chain-of-Ponds Snow (3960'), one of the New England Hundred Highest and the highest peak on the actual border is "Boundary Peak" (3855' - and technically an unnamed peak), also one of the NEHH. All of the peaks we climbed this weekend are part of the Boundary Range. Some of the better known peaks in this Range are Gosford and Megantic in Canada, the 6 western Maine Hundred Highest peaks and a number of peaks near Jackman (Sally, Boundary Bald, Coburn, Number Five, Williams, Green, Burnt Jacket, Mosquito, Kibby and Caribou).

A couple of the peaks we climbed (Boundary Bald and Gosford) and several we didn't climb this time around (Chain of Ponds Snow, Kibby and Caribou) are on another list called the New England Fifty Finest (NE FF) list, also known as the fifty most prominent peaks in New England. Click on the link above for the list of these fifty peaks, and check here to learn about "prominence": Topographic Prominence. And here's a map of New England (also New York) showing (most of) these "most prominent" peaks: NE Prominence map. In one sentence, "topographic prominence" is a measure of how much a peak rises (topographically) from its neighbors, how much it "sticks out", so to speak.


Saturday November 13:
"Boundary Peak" (NEHH)


(Photo of Boundary)
"Boundary Peak" with the boundary swath in the snow
(Click on this or any picture for a larger image)

W

e got up early and dragged ourselves out to the parking lot and got off just barely by 6:30 AM. The hunters who had filled the place had already headed off to their favorite spots by 5:00 AM, and compared to them we felt like lazy lay-a-beds. The temperature was 9 degrees but thankfully the ground and the roads were totally bare. There was no snow on the ground whatsoever. I told the others I had talked to someone at the park headquarters (Zec Gosford) where we were headed, and he said (in heavily accented English) that there was "one foot and half" of snow on the ground in the park. We figured, no way! He must have misunderstood my English. Heading up Route 27 there was practically no traffic, and the construction that had so delayed us last July was no where in evidence. We reached the border by 7:00 AM and the Canadian customs agent asked why we were entering Canada. When we said "hiking", he said he hoped we had plenty of clothes and then scurried back into his booth to get out of the cold.

We followed the directions from my trip report from last July and reached the park gate house at 7:30 AM. I filled out the form, paid the $5 and asked the man about hiking along the boundary. He said there was a foot and a half of snow in the woods and 2 to 3 feet along the boundary. Meanwhile outside the gatehouse there was barely a dusting. Boy, these guys sure got their stories to match. He also said the last mile or so to the parking spot would be tough going, but looking at Bob's monster SUV, he said it looked like we had a good car. As we drove the 8 miles or so along the park's gravel roads, the snow got increasingly "more real" and deeper. The final half mile we were "breaking trail" through as much of a foot of snow on the road. We were clearly the only car to have made it in all the way to this point. I guess now we started to believe the reports of snow. Amazing, what a little elevation can do! We reached the parking lot and Bob made sure to turn the van around and face slightly down hill so we could get away when we were done, and we got ourselves ready - including putting on the snowshoes we never expected to use. It was 12 degrees, and the snow was very cold and fluffy, and totally unbroken.

We got off at 8:30 AM and Julie broke trail. It was a beautiful cold, clear day with practically no wind. This was one great day to be out! The first mile or so of this route is along a trail, quite steep at times, which
(Photo of Boundary swath)
Starting up along the boundary swath
climbs a ridge and then heads east where it intersects the boundary swath just north of boundary monument # 447. When we reached the boundary swath the views opened up and it was overwhelming. It was so wonderful to visit this peak when it wasn't raining! Those who have not seen the views should really go back. And the way the boundary swath showed up with the snow was stunning. You could see it wander over the ridge tops to the south and then turn up north again over distant peaks in this peculiar "peninsular" of Canada sticking into Maine.

We found the snow depth along the boundary was highly variable: from bare rock to 2 - 3 foot drifts. The wind has full play along the swath, but today we had little more than a dead calm. We passed numerous hunting blinds (on the Canadian side), but the snow tended to mute their deadly purpose. We could see our target peak in the distance and we could see just how the trail climbed and turned on its way to this high point. "Boundary Peak", at 3855', is the highest peak on the Canadian border with Maine and in fact is the highest point on the Canadian border east of Montana. We reached the peak just after 10:00 AM and enjoyed the views and took the requisite pictures. Bob and Gerry signed the register and noticed that the last entry was from October 30th. We wondered if we would be the last to visit this peak for this season, or would there be some winter peak baggers who made it up here. Without passable roads it would be quite a long trek in.

We made it down fairly quickly, in just about an hour. My only complaint was pain in my little toe of my left foot on the very steep sections. It was a tough downhill slog in snow shoes. We reached the car at 11:10. It was 26 degrees

Summary:

"Boundary Peak", elevation 3855', #83 of the NE Hundred Highest.

Delorme Atlas: Map #28 (and #38 for the start of the road in Canada)

Driving (Ridgerunner's directions):

Take Route 27 north from Stratton to the Canadian border. At the border stop at the customs station (Canadian) on the far right and check in with the agent. Once past the border, go straight on Route 161 for 3 miles to Woburn - watch the speed limits: they are in kilometres per hour (50 KPH = 31 MPH) - we have seen cars pulled over for speeding. In Woburn, turn left on Route 212 for 2 miles. Look for a sign "ZEC Louise Gosford" on the left. Go left on the dirt road at the sign for 3.8 miles to the park gate house on the left. Go in, fill out the form and pay $5. Proceed on the dirt park road past the gate house into the park.

Set your odometer to 0 miles
0.7 miles - Stop sign: go stratight across the intersection
3.8 miles - pass Mont Gosford trailhead on left
5.7 miles - cross over bridge
6.2 miles - cross over bridge
6.3 miles - Y fork: go left (right side has a gate)
7.5 miles - Intersection: go right
8.3 miles - park at the clearing. You are at the red "+" on the topo map

The path starts at the far corner. Go to the right across the stream and start up the trail. There is a small white sign: "Chasseur L`afft".

Topo Map (Peakbagger): "Boundary Peak"
Bob's GPS track: "Boundary Peak" GPS track

Distance on foot (one way): Trail: .9 miles, boundary swath 1.1 miles
Total distance: 4.0 miles

Elevation gain: 1080'

Total time: 2:40

Pictures: Album for "Boundary Peak"


Saturday November 13:
Mont Gosford (Quebec)


(Photo of Gosford)
Mont Gosfored with its observation tower
(Click on this or any picture for a larger image)

W

hen we got back to the car it was just 11:10, so we quickly stripped off our outer layers and took off the show shoes and piled into the car. The second goal today was Mont Gosford, whose trailhead was 4.5 miles back on the same park road we had come in on. We knew the snow was much less in evidence there, so we figured we might be able to do the climb of Gosford in bare boots. At one time I had entertained the idea of splitting up and two of us (probably Julie and I) would hike to Gosford directly from "Boundary Peak" by way of the boundary swath, while the others would go back to the car and drive to the trailhead and meet us on top of Gosford. But with the deep snow on the boundary, and not wanting to split up the group, we decided two separate hikes to the two peaks would make more sense. If it were summer with easier going, or if we had a second car to spot at the Gosford trailhead, we might have taken the first option.

The drive back along the park road was uneventful - it was nice to be moving in the direction of less and less snow, rather than more and more, as we had earlier that morning. Luckily the temperature was still below freezing so we did not have
(Photo of trail)
The lower section was icy
Photo by Bob Hayes
to worry about slippery wet spots. The cold snow was actually not to bad for driving - and for that matter the cold kept the snow from soaking trough our boots, a big plus. Just before we reached the trailhead, we came to a van parked in the middle of the road with hunters milling around with their guns getting ready to go to their intended spots. Ironically they were dressed all in camo, while everyone else was wearing blaze orange. We were a little worried about being here in deer hunting season but were reassured (slightly) that no hunter would trek in several miles from the road and have to drag a dead deer back. So the real danger was only a few hundred yards from the road and we kept ourselves aware of what vehicles were parked along the road. For today it was only this van. No one but ourselves had ventured the 4.5 miles past this point. We were able to get by them without asking them to pull off the road a little, and found the trailhead about a quarter mile further on.

The trailhead was marked by prominent signs and a parking lot was there just on the opposite side of the road.
(Photo of upper ridge)
Along the upper ridge
Photo by Bob Hayes
We said hello to a couple of French Canadians who were just starting up Gosford, and about 10 minutes later we were off. We carried our snow shoes with us "just in case" but the trail was practically bare as we started into the woods. Unlike the trail to Boundary which had no markings, this had blazes (inverted white chevrons) and signs at every trail intersection along the way. Although the trail was bare, it was very icy in the lower sections, and as it rose the snow got to be a foot or more in depth near the top. We might have considered using our snow shoes at that point, but the trail evidently gets lots of traffic and the trail was "broken out" by barebooters all the way up. It was the worst of both worlds: between no snow and lots of snow, we had to trudge along in other's post holes. A good storm with a foot or more of snow (followed by hikers who knew when to use snow shoes) would fix this. But today it was what it was, and since the route was easy and less than 3 miles up (4.5 km) we couldn't complain.

Around the half way point, where the trail became steeper and the snow got deeper, we passed the couple we had seen in the parking lot. And surprisingly, there was a lean-to on the side of the trail there. The map is not clear where camping spots were. The sign at the road indicated "Plateformes" (which I took to mean tent platforms) 1.6 km past the summit, but there was nothing indicating this lean-to was here unless it was the "Abriruisseau du Cap" indicated on the sign at the road. Anyone know what that means?

Anyway, we passed several signs and one turn which seemed to be in the wrong direction, but it all made sense eventually. Just follow the blazes and the signs. The snow towards the top was a bit tedious, but it was such a beautiful day and the snow was cold and fluffy and didn't clog up our boots, so we soldiered on. I thought
(Photo of group)
Papa Bear, Julie and Bob
the last snowy ridge was actually rather pretty. The snow and the fir trees were actually rather enchanting if it were not for the innumerable post holes we had to traverse. Then suddenly the trees opened up and we found ourselves on a rocky summit area with an observation tower at the high point.

It was colder than at the road, perhaps 20 degrees or a little colder, but still there was no wind to speak of. It was a beautiful scene and a great place to be today. The views from the tower were even better than from Boundary. First off, Gosford is higher (1189m = 3900' vs. 3855' for Boundary) and the tower placed us completely above the trees. Furthermore, Gosford lies smack dab in the middle of the "peninsula" of Canada jutting down into Maine, so it is essentially surrounded by the peaks of the boundary watershed divide on three sides. It was a great mountain. I think it is the only peak in Canada from which you can see Mt. Washington (I think we saw it on the far horizon). If it's a clear day and you do Boundary from the Canadian side, do this too.

The trek down was uneventful except for one broken shoelace. I was waiting for someone to hit the ground on the slippery ice near the bottom (most likely me) but happily we all got back to the car on our feet.

Summary:

Mont Gosford, elevation 1189m (3900'), 4th highest peak in Quebec south of the Torngats.

Driving directions: See directions above for "Boundary Peak".

Topo Map (Peakbagger): Mont Gosford

Canadian maps available:
NTS topgraphic map: Woburn, 21 E/7
Sentiers Frontaliers map: normally available at the gate house, but sold out that day

Distance on foot (one way): 4.5 km (2.8 miles)
Total distance: 5.6 miles

Elevation gain: 1880'

Total time: 3:25

Pictures: Album for Gosford


And then it was off to Jackman

W

e were back to the car a little after 3:00 PM and we were out of the park and on the highway before 4:00 PM. We took Canadian roads: Routes 212 north (2 miles) to 161 north (15 miles) to 204 north (31 miles) to 269 east (10 miles) to 173 east (10 miles) to the US border and US Route 201. One thing that didn't cease to amaze me: the land here so close to the border was practically flat! Instead of timber country, this was farm country. Across the border in Maine the mountains go on mile after mile and you don't see much farming till you get south of Route 11 (or way up in Aroostoook County if you like potatos).

At the border crossing, the US agent was a bit more "rigorous" then the Canadian agent who had met us that morning. He asked each of us rather bruskly "Where were you born?" and asked to see ID from each of us (but didn't actually look closely at what we showed him). Passports were not needed, drivers license or voter registration forms worked fine. He briefly looked in the back of the van, and then we were off to Jackman, about 15 miles to the south on Route 201.

Jackman is what one might call a "jerk-water town" if railroads were still running. Nevertheless, this was their busy season with "Welcome Hunters" signs hanging from every store and motel. We found some rooms at the big motel across from the General Store (Bishop's) and we found our rooms, showered, changed, and a few of us had a few cold ones! Then we were off to the Border Cafe (a four table, no table cloth establishment) where Bob had prime rib of all things (which he gave rave reviews) and we all had something that was surprisingly good. Talk about diamonds in the rough. Then it was back to the motel, where we agreed to a 7:00 AM start the next morning, and it was off to bed. Tomorrow was a no hunting day (Sunday) so that was a bit of a relief.


Sunday November 14:
Boundary Bald (NEFF)


(Photo of Boundary Bald)
The "Gingerbread House" on Boundary Bald
Photo: Bob Hayes
(Click on this or any picture for a larger image)

T

he next morning was another clear, cold one but with a bit of a gusty wind, which would prove interesting on the mountain. The temperatures hovered around 10 degrees as we drove north the 7 or 8 miles or so from Jackman to the dirt road which was just past a highway rest stop. The turn off is on the right (east) side of 201. There was a small white "Bald Mt. Hiking Trail" sign at the entrance to the dirt road. There were similar signs at each turn along the way, so it would be hard to get lost finding this mountain. The snow got progressively deeper, but there were ruts from previous traffic all the way to the final right turn (4.3 miles from the highway). Then we were "breaking trail" in about 6" - 12" of snow over ice, and there were several very rough spots (frozen washouts) that we crossed. But it was not the washouts that got us, but an icy uphill section. Just past the second washout, we got part way up a steep section when Bob started moving backwards back down the road. Someone said "Is everything all right?", and he said "NO!". It turns out he was not driving in reverse, he was sliding down the hill with the brakes full on. We recrossed the washout, found a place to turn around and then parked off the side of the road. Lucky for us that 1) the steep hill was a straight shot down, and 2) there were no big drop offs on either side of the road. Bob said "Next time we'll bring chains". So we ended up a little more than a mile from
(Photo of Putting on snow shoes)
Time to put on the snow shoes
Photo by Bob Hayes
the trailhead, but in actuality we did better than most drivers would have done. We left the car at 8:00 AM with the temperature 11 degrees.

We brought our snow shoes but started up the road in bare boots. Just past the slope that stopped our progress, we found an even steeper, icier section which we never could have made it up, even if we had made it past the first hill. After about a half mile on the road, we put on our snow shoes since it was clear we would need them today. Ever the fastest, Julie was in the vanguard breaking trail.

We found the trailhead, which was clearly marked with an old wooden sign "Bald Mountain Tower" (although we knew the tower on the peak was no longer standing). The MMG mentions that the old Fire Warden's cabin is standing "9 minutes" before the trailhead, but it is now gone. In fact a note at the end of the 1999 MMG trail description for Boundary Bald explains: "Update 6/00: The Warden's cabin has been demolished and the trail is reportedly no longer hikeable." The cabin is indeed gone but the trail is perfectly hikeable, so disregard this note. The trail is well blazed with blue paint blazes on trees and rocks, and was easy to follow, although in warm weather there are reportedly some muddy sections.

The trail started rather easy and I could see a set of post holes next to Julie's snow shoe prints for about a half mile. Then the post holes stopped. Evidently someone had tried this trail recently but given up at this point. As we continued on, the trail became rather steep and the snow reached 12" - 18" in places. But the hard part were the innumerable ice covered rocky ledges that were very hard to negotiate in snow shoes. Thank goodness the "bear claw" crampons on the Tubbs I was wearing held their own on this rough section. If you do this trail in the winter be prepared for some rough climbing. I was forever grasping at itty-bitty fir braches to pull me up but usually just getting a fist full of snow. But we made it up this section, very tiring though it was.

Then we came the interesting part! When we got to the ridge top, we hit tree line (actually there were short
(Photo of tree line)
Tough going above tree line
Photo by Bob Hayes
scrubby trees 2' or 3' high in places) and it was another world. Visually it was fantastic with views in all directions and a landscape of ice covered rock and scrub. But the weather was daunting with temperatures in the teens (or lower) and winds 40 - 50 MPH. This was dangerous territory. It was difficult to walk with the wind, especially trying to cross bare rocks in snow shoes. I hunkered down and put on my ski mask and my Frogg Toggs jacket and new pair of gloves that Gerry loaned me. The face mask helped the most and with my new layers I was able to continue reasonably well. Everyone was very cold, especially from the wind on the face.

Christopher Keene's book mentions that the trail may be hard to follow across the ridge. This is not really an issue since it matters little which path you follow across the open rocks as long as you stay on the ridge line and hit the opening in the trees as you get to the col, which we did not find to be a problem at all.

Julie had gone ahead to the true peak which was perhaps a half mile beyond the west peak we had gotten to (and where the winds were actually the worst). The traverse was through a slight col where taller trees protected us somewhat from the winds, and then we saw at the top of the true peak ahead of us one of the most surprising sites I ever encountered on a mountain top. It looked like nothing else than a gingerbread house, with a peaked roof and a chimney (it was actually not a chimney, it was a radio tower) and it was encrusted with ice. The scene was out of a fairy tale, or perhaps a Christmas card. But as we approached the building, the winds increased again and we knew we had but a few moments to "enjoy" this summit.

Boundary Bald is one of the New England Fifty Finest, and in my opinion the most spectacular peak of the weekend. But boy, did the mountain gods make us earn this one! But a great mountain it was! The whole scene was spectacular;
(Photo of views)
Beautiful views in the cold
Photo by Bob Hayes
the views, the ice covering everything, the thin lenticular clouds swooping over the ridge, the frightening wind chills, and the cold exhausted state we were in were all extraordinary. We took a few pictures and we quickly headed back to the car. It had taken us about 2:10 to reach the top, longer than we thought, and we were all quite beaten up by the experience. I thought to myself: "Boy, this is it. No way can I climb another mountain today". I'm sure we all had similar thoughts but no one voiced them. I figured we would talk about it back in the car. For now we had to get down safely. We knew great care was in order since going down can often be tougher than climbing up, especially in our tired state and with such treacherous conditions.

But getting down was easier than I thought. I got down over many of the ledges by butt-sliding and soon we were on the lower, gentler slopes. Gerry even said: "Gee, it's almost balmy down here". On the way down we passed a group of 8 French Canadians hiking up, all in bare boots. They probably didn't realize it, but the trail we had broken out allowed them to climb with bare boots in relative ease. I don't know how they did on the summit ridge, but I hope they had enough sense and gear to stay safe from the conditions on top.

We got to the car about 11:45 and piled our extra layers and snow shoes into the back and hustled into the car to get warmed up.

Summary:

Boundary Bald Mountain, elevation 3620', prominence 2002', #42 of the NE Fifty Finest.

Delorme Atlas: Map #47

Guide books:
AMC: Maine Mountain Guide, 8th edition - 1999. Page 227. Note: Disregard the note at the end of the article.
Christopher Keene North Woods Walks, 2003. Page 43.

Driving directions:
Drive north from Jackman on Route 201 7.6 miles to a dirt road on the right (east) side just after The Falls picnic area. Look for a small square white sign: "Bald Mt. Hiking Trail". Similar signs appear at all subsequent intersections.

Set odometer to 0 miles.
2.3 miles - cross bridge over Heald Stream, then turn right onto an old road
4.1 miles - turn left onto Notch Road
4.3 miles - bear right onto a rough road, drive as far as you can, then park and start your hike
4.7 miles - turn left at trailhead. Look for old "Bald Mountain Tower" sign

Topo Map (Peakbagger): Boundary Bald Mountain
Bob's GPS track: Boundary Bald GPS track

Distance on foot (one way): 2.4 miles
Total distance: 4.8 miles

Elevation gain: 1400'

Total time: 3:45

Pictures: Album for Boundary Bald


Sunday, November 14:
Coburn Mountain


(Photo of Coburn)
The Coburn Mountain Summit
Photo: Bob Hayes
(Click on this or any picture for a larger image)

W

hen we started driving down from Boundary Bald back to the highway, I felt more inclined to do another hike than I had felt while on the summit, but was still apprehensive. So I said something like: "I'd like to consider climbing Coburn this afternoon, but I can't take another climb like this". Julie said she had had it for the day, but Bob said "I want to do it". So we decided on a dual plan: Bob and Gerry and I us would climb the peak but we would set a firm turnaround time and Julie would change into warm things and wait in the car. I just thought to myself: "This one better be easier than Boundary Bald."

Well, it was. Coburn is another of the New England Fifty Finest and the highest peak (3718') between the Bigelows and Katahdin. Getting there involved driving 14.5 miles south of Jackman on Route 201 and taking a dirt road to the right (west). We are indebted to Bigmoose who gave exact directions in his excellent post on VFTT He even gave the ID # on the telephone pole at the turnoff. The dirt road in was the roughest yet, but it had less snow and not much elevation gain compared to the others. The drive in is about 2.5 miles and there are several washouts or stream fords you must pass. We all said "No way Bigmoose made it in here in a Geo!" , which he claimed to have done. He must have some Geo!

When we got out of the van, I looked at my watch and said "OK, it's 1:18. What should our turnaround time be". Bob immediately said "3:18", and Gerry quickly rejoined with "2:18". I laughed and said all right, let's pick
(Photo of trail)
The trail gets steeper
Photo by Bob Hayes
something in between, and make it 2:45. So we were off. The temperature was probably around 30 degrees.

The first part of the climb was up a steep winding road which had ATV tracks that we found we could walk in to make good time. At the top of this road there was a clearing with a small building with a radio tower and some solar panels. This is the location of the top of the abandoned ski slope described in the MMG. At this point there is a gate and a ditch to keep the ATVs out, and the trail proper begins. The trail is marked with faded red surveyor's tape tied around trees, and was easy to follow even with unbroken snow. The snow was 12" - 18" deep and we began to think it was a mistake to have left our snow shoes in the van. But the trail soon became so steep that snow shoes would not have been that helpful, so we trudged on. I put on my Stabilicers which I had just bought. These consisted of Vibram soles with lugs imbedded and which strap to your boots. They are much more rugged than Yaktrax and I think they added some help on this snow scramble. The trail was the steepest we had done of the 4 peaks, but with no ledges as we had hit on Boundary Bald, it was easier than that one. And it was mercifully short, with the trail less than a half mile long and the steep part probably less than .3 miles.

Before we knew it, we broke out to an open but fairly small summit area. There was no exposed ridge as on
(Photo of views)
A view from the tower
Photo by Bob Hayes
Boundary Bald - just a solar powered communications Quonset hut (much more mundane than Boundary Bald's "Gingerbread House"), and an observation tower. We had made it up in 67 minutes, so we almost could have made Gerry's one hour turnaround time. The temperature had dropped to 20 or less, and there was a wind, but nothing like what had hit us on Boundary Bald. My gloves were wet from sweat and snow and they actually started to freeze to the aluminum supports of the tower. I had to be careful where I put my hands or I would have had to leave my gloves stuck there. As we had experienced all weekend, there were more great views in all directions. And of course the obligatory summit photo.

The trek down was easy and quick and we arrived back at the van at 3:13 PM, just 1:55 round trip. Julie was glad to see us since the sun was starting to drop and the car was starting to get cold. But we were done with a fantastic weekend and were back on the highway for the long trip home before 4:00 PM.

Summary:

Coburn Mountain, elevation 3720', prominence 2520', #16 of the NE Fifty Finest.

Delorme Atlas: Map #40

Guide books:
AMC: Maine Mountain Guide, 8th edition - 1999. Page 225. Note: The MMG describes a different route from what we used. It follows the old ski slope and meets the ATV road we took at the small communications hut at the end of the road (the top of the slope) where the trail starts.

Christopher Keene North Woods Walks, 2003. Page 46. Note: The mileage to the turnoff on Route 201 from Jackman is incorrectly given as 16 miles in Keene's book. The turenoff is in fact 14.5 miles south of Jackman.

Driving (and hiking) directions:
Drive south from Jackman on Route 201 14.5 miles to a dirt road on the right (west) side. The road starts after a telephone pole with 2 guys wires and ID #s "550/234/1270".

Set odometer to 0 miles.
0.2 miles - bear right on a very rough road, the better road bears left (sorry!)
2.2 miles - reach a large clearing with remains of the old ski lodge, turn right
2.3 miles - reach a small clearing, continue straight on road which turns steeply up to the left
2.4 miles - reach a fork, park and start hiking up to the left where there is a sign: "Coburn Summit"

Note: after hiking about 1 mile on the steep ATV road you will reach a small clearing with a communications hut on the right. Turn right up the hill, go around the gate and bear right up the trail at the fork. The trail continues steeply for about .5 miles to the summit.

Topo Map (Peakbagger): Coburn Mountain
Bob's GPS track: Coburn GPS track

Distance on foot (one way): 1.5 miles
Total distance: 3.0 miles

Elevation gain: 1410'

Total time: 1:55

Pictures: Album for Coburn


Click here for a albums of Boundary and Gosford
Click here for a albums of Boundary Bald and Coburn

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