Maine’s Bigelow Preserve: Kind-of-secret-but-not-really

I admit I’d never heard of Maine’s Bigelow preserve until I started the New England 4000 footers list (because apparently I can’t function without lists).  But the two Bigelow mountains residing in Bigelow preserve are just as purty as the whites and have awesome 360 views from the top.  Bigelow preserve also has one of the nicest campsites I’ve ever stayed at.    

I’m going to apologize in advance for the picture quality in this post.  I only had my camera phone and most of my pictures were blurry due to some jerk (me) smearing their greasy little fingers over the camera glass… so the pictures that I had to choose from aren’t exactly the creme de la creme.

As I mentioned, I had to tackle Bigelow West peak and Bigelow Avery peak as part of the New England 4000 footers.  The drive from southern New Hampshire is approx. ~3.5 hours so David and I decided to camp the night before and bag the two peaks the day after.  This hike was completed in late September but we lucked out with the weather and had relatively warm days.

We camped at the round barn campsite which is right near the trailhead.  The campsite is right on Flagstaff lake (which, interesting tidbit, is man-made) and almost all the tent sites are overlooking the lake with easy access to the water.  The tent sites are also spaced out enough that we really didn’t see anyone else except when they chose to stroll along the lakeshore before dark.  Some big rocks on the “beach” also served as a great place to set up our car camping stove and cook some breakfast/dinner.

tent site on the water

tent site on the water

As far as I’m concerned this is the best campsite I’ve ever stayed at.  Can you tell that I’ve stayed at a lot of crappy campsites?  But really… when do you get the opportunity to not see any other campers from your tent site?

view of the Bigelows from the tentsite

view of the Bigelows from the tent site

The next day, we took the Safford Brook trail, which meets up with the AT, and bagged Bigelow Avery and then Bigelow West.  The trail is pretty steep, rocky, and par for the course in northern New England.  From the top of Bigelow Avery are panoramic views, with Flagstaff lake to the north and faraway mountains to the south.  There’s a nice exposed walk between West and Avery peak that keeps the views coming.  Supposedly on a good day you can even see Katahdin.

Below, you can see some of my sad, sad, camera phone photos that don’t do this hike any justice whatsoever.

looking to the west peak from avery

looking to the west peak from avery

west from avery

west from avery

one of the only in-focus pictures was...david's face

one of the only in-focus pictures was…david’s face

peak at flagstaff lake from avery

peek at flagstaff lake from avery

As an added bonus, on this hike we ran into two thru-hikers on the top of Bigelow West who had stopped for lunch.  I was happy to report to them the free ice cream they were entitled to at a shop in Millinocket upon completion of the AT (I am so cool and full of inside information).  And maybe my next blog post will be about Katahdin since I have slightly more non-blurry pictures from that hike (but only slightly more because the lens on my DSLR was broken) 😀 😀 😀

Super exciting news: I’m heading to the North Cascades in late April, and Kluane National Park in the Yukon territory in late May, which will surely result in awesome picture-packed blog posts for my loyal readership of 2 people (hi David and Emily!) 🙂

That’s all for now!


6 thoughts on “Maine’s Bigelow Preserve: Kind-of-secret-but-not-really

  1. Mélissa says:

    Hey there! 🙂 Your story is really nice and I think I wanna go there to. Can you just tell me if do we have to reserve for the camping and how much does it cost? thank you so much!


    • Thanks for reading, Mélissa! This campsite is in quite a remote area so I don’t remember making reservations (and I don’t think they take any, either), and I also don’t think we paid any money. When we went in September there was no problem finding a tent site, I’m not sure if this would be more of an issue in the summer


  2. Hey there! I’m going to the round barn site in late august and will also attempt the Safford Brook trail to Avery peak, and was wondering if you could answer two questions. First, how difficult is the Safford brook trail to the top? I know it’s only around three miles but I’ve heard it’s pretty tough, but I sorta just want to know what to expect. Second, can you pull your car up to the sites at round barn? Or is it a park and walk? Thank you so much! (pictures aren’t that bad by the way 🙂


    • Thanks for your comment! Its hard for me to rate the difficulty of the trail since I don’t know what you’re used to, but it’s pretty much like a typical white mountain trail in that it’s steep and rocky. I have bad knees and they were definitely hurting by the time I got down. But I don’t remember any scrambling or anything like that (this was also a few years ago tho). Re: the tent sites, they are park and walk but the walk is pretty short!


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