Ascent of East Kennebago Mountain on 2016-08-14

Climber: Aleksey Zinger

Date:Sunday, August 14, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:East Kennebago Mountain
    Elevation:3791 ft / 1155 m

Ascent Trip Report

This is hardly a hike if one is willing to drive as far as the NEHH directions suggest and knows how to get from there to the crucial boundary cut. Unfortunately, it took me several attempts over 3 days to reach the summit, due to a combination of terrible weather (I got thoroughly soaked on the first two days well before turning back), unwillingness to drive on the relevant logging road, and poor use of the available, though sometimes confusing, directions.

The NEHH directions for getting to the ``parking lot" are good. The 2015 Delorme Atlas shows the roads there accurately, except right off ME 16. The relevant logging road leaves right (North) off ME 16 8.9 miles from ME 27 in Stratton. It immediately crosses a bridge, takes right at a T intersection, and crosses another bridge. At 0.9 miles from ME 16 (at ``the Landing" according to the NEHH directions), the road proceeds straight, while another road splits off left. The ``shack straight ahead between the two branches" is not visible until you are pass the fork. The correct road crosses another bridge shortly (with nail tops sticking out on its far end) and continues straight as another road leaves sharp right. At about 2 miles, the roads takes sharp left uphill, just before an open grassy area. At 2.3 miles, another road (called Middle Rd) splits off to the right. At 2.6 miles, there is an open gravel area, with a road leaving to the left and back down. At 3.1 miles, there is another fork. The correct road takes sharp left and uphill, while another road continues straight ahead and level. On the Delorme atlas, this corresponds to going to a secondary road, though the road continuing straight looks less used (there is some grass on it). At 3.8 and 4.3 miles, roads leave sharp left and up; the latter is just before the (potentially) drivable portion of the road ends. If you are walking, at around 4 miles you might notice a trail heading left and up into the woods; ignore it.

From ``the parking lot" (a large open area with some leftover tree trunks), continue straight on the road you just came; it is no longer gravel. It passes another, very overgrown road going to the left and steeply uphill, with two cairns at the beginning; ignore this road and continue straight ahead. The correct road soon crosses a stream (or stream bed, depending on the weather) and later turns left and starts climbing fairly steadily. At about .9 miles from the ``parking lot", the road reaches the crucial boundary cut going steeply to the left and blazed in yellow (and occasionally in blue). This crossing is shown on the Delorme map and on the NEHH topo. The blazes are relatively faint (compared to the AT boundary cut between South Crocker and Redington), but are clearly visible (at least in daylight). Take the trail along this boundary cut; its treadway is clear and about as good as on the way to Redington. The trail ascends along the boundary cut for about 10 minutes until it reaches the height of the land. There the trail runs into a tree with a big yellow blaze and a smaller blue one just below. It takes sharp right and goes straight up for the summit, which it reaches in another 10 minutes or so. There is no visible trail continuing past the aforementioned tree; so just follow the trail you see. Just before you reach the summit, another herd path joins on the right; presumably it leads back down to the same place eventually, but may not be as good.

There are no longer cairns on the boundary cut, except for a few rocks where it leaves the road, or a stake with yellow blaze lying on the ground there. I passed this stake the day before on my way from a failed attempt to reach the summit. In the morning, I also passed three guys with a van in the ``parking lot" who had just come down from the summit. I would guess they picked up the stake as a souvenir. I searched for it for almost an hour along the road, before deciding that there is unlikely to be another boundary cut blazed in yellow and noticing a footprint going up this boundary cut. There are a number of other trails leaving left and uphill from the road, some of which are quite good for awhile and one of which I had taken the day before. However, none of them is blazed in yellow. Once you find this boundary cut, you should be all set to reach the summit in about 20 minutes.

Is the road from ME 16 to the ``parking lot" drivable? In a truck with good tires and good clearance, there should be no problems. In a normal car, this seems risky, especially past the first two miles. In the first two miles (including right after the first bridge), there are a number of depressions in the road that are normally dry, but could fill up with a foot of water after a good rain. Most of the stretches in the first two miles are quite good, but there are occasional rocky spots. The good stretches become shorter and the bad spots become worse and longer past the first two miles. On the other hand, one could easily walk up this road at 3 mph and down at 4.5 mph (as long as one is not too distracted with the raspberries and blackberries along the way). It is actually a rather pleasant walk on a nice day and makes this trip more of a hike.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail

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