Mount Redington is a barely-4000-foot peak in the Longfellow Mountains of Western Maine, situated roughly between the little towns of Stratton and Rangeley. It -- along with seven other peaks -- form a compact grouping of about half of Maine's set of 4000-footer peaks.
On this first day of August, we were in the area to climb one of these peaks. I had just finished my New Hampshire 48 on Mt Monroe just the day before
, and seeing as we were already in the general area, we thought we'd add another as-yet-unclimbed peak to my NE 111 list to round out the weekend. In the spirit of balancing dessert with vegetables, so to speak, I picked a relatively un-scenic peak as a complement to the fantastic scenery we'd had on our Monroe hike. That peak was Mt Redington.
Mt Redington wasn't always considered a 4000-footer. It was only after recent surveys that it was revealed that Mt Redington's summit just grazes the magical mark. Redington is therefore one of the peaks (along with three others) in the northeast that have enlarged the Northeast 111 list from its original 111 to 115 (for coolness' sake, though, they've kept the NE111 moniker).
Enough with histories, though. The more pressing concern was how to climb the peak. Technically, it's considered un-trailled. There are two principal ways in which one can climb Redington: the first is via a bushwhack from the summit of South Crocker, and the second is via old logging roads and a recent research route from the southeast (due to recent activity to explore the area for possible wind turbine sites). We chose the latter route (although I've since heard that there is a herd path of some sort on the traverse from South Crocker).
Logging Road Start
A slightly challenging component to this hike is trailhead access. To get to the start of the logging-road route to Redington, one must drive down an old and somewhat degraded logging access road called the Caribou Pond Road. It heads south from Maine highway 16/27 a few miles east of Stratton. Initially it's a very decent gravel road, but as you travel south, the conditions gradually deteriorate. By the time you get to the point where the Appalachian Trail crosses the road, things have gotten rougher, and you've already had to negotiate a couple of deep dips in the road that probably require high clearance, and there are a few somewhat sketchy but still good-enough old wooden bridges. It gets progressively more challenging from there, and with our 4wd CR-V, we managed to get within a mile-and-a-half of the end of the road at Caribou Pond (we probably could have gone farther, but the overgrowth on the sides of the road were increasingly threatening to scratch up the sides of the car, and progress over the really rough stuff was slow enough that it wasn't that much of an advantage over just walking). So, we parked the car in a convenient side-space and suited up for the morning's hike. It was a clear, sunny, and calm day.
Caribou Pond Road
The walk up the remainder of Caribou Pond Road was straightforward and uneventful. We soon arrived at the road junction marking its end, and stopped to consult our map and satellite photo printout. This was probably the second most tricky part of this hike - ensuring that we stayed on the correct route to the summit, because there are no signs anywhere along this route.
Bridge over South Branch
Before leaving home, I had carefully read trip reports and pored over the satellite map of the area. It was apparent that the area had been extensively logged at some point recently, and there appeared to be a set of logging roads that we could link up to get us within 1/2 mile of the summit. If we made it to that point, we could even bushwhack if required, although recent reports did indicate that a group doing an investigation for wind turbine sites had cut a path from the top of the logging roads towards the summit.
So, armed with my GPS, map, and crude sat photo, I could see that we had to head west along a major logging road. And major it was - wide and well-graded. It had clearly not been used for logging for some time, as there was no indication of heavy vehicle traffic and the vegetation along the sides of the road was growing in.
Andrew heads to Redington
The road continued mostly on the level for the better part of a mile. It was actually quite nice in spots, leading through broad open grassy areas that provided nice views of the Maine Northwoods all around and of our destination peak -- Mount Redington -- directly ahead.
We arrived at a major junction with another logging road that headed off north. According to my maps and understanding, we had to turn and follow this road. For extra confirmation, there was an arrow on the ground fashioned out of old wood that also pointed in this direction.
This new logging road immediately started to climb at a gentle angle northwards. It was always open, but was in places covered in knee-high grasses (and in others, plain unvegetated gravel). We followed this road up about 400-feet of elevation gain until it started to level off on the crest of the broad ridge that comes down south-east from Redington and South Crocker. We encountered another logging road junction (and again, someone had flagged the junction, this time with a pole and flagging tape).
Turning left (west) onto this logging road, we continued on, with the track gradually curving left and mostly on the level. Again, we could see Mt Redington's summit straight ahead. So far, this had been a very easy stroll!
After perhaps at most 1/2 a mile along this road, we reached a section where the logging road curved right and headed uphill, and there were a couple of faint narrow cuts in the young trees straight ahead. The more central of these cuts was flanked by two pieces of green flagging tape. The location and situation of this central cut matched what I'd read and with my sat maps, so I was fairly confident that this was the way. However, if you were climbing without good prior knowledge of the route, this is the one spot you should pay attention not to miss.