|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Horserace Ponds, Clifford Pond, Woodman Pond, Rainbow Lake, ME|
||Road walk, Horserace Pond Trail, bushwhack, Tentsite Spur, Rainbow Loop, Blue Trail|
|Date of Hike:
||Monday, February 6, 2023|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||The long drive in Golden Rd is suitable for any car with car but it is icy. The speed limit is 45mph and while many cars along it seemed to be going just that fast or faster, I generally went much slower. You’ll be fine unless you need to hit the brakes hard… Also, a logging truck came barreling through quite fast right down the center of the road which was rather unnerving. Lots of parking and cars at the BSP Wigner parking area just before Abol Bridge. A small plowed area was also found 5.5mi beyond at the start of the spur rd to the start of Horserace Pond Trail. I was the only one parked here at 8am and 5:15pm although there’d be room for at least a few carefully parked cars here. The road walk is only about 1/4mi. |
||Snow - Unpacked Powder, Snow/Ice - Frozen Granular, Snow - Drifts |
|Water Crossing Notes:
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||Horserace Pond Trail is signed as Horserace Brook Trail at its start by the kiosk. It’s blazed in yellow. Rainbow Loop Trail is blazed in orange and Blue Trail is blazed in, you guessed it, blue. The trails were generally quite well blazed although at times it felt like they started off very well blazed at a jct, then the blazing became sparser as you went along. It all seemed relatively fresh. On the ledges, blaze was not so much visible which made trail finding more difficult at times. Many cairns were not very visible, partially beneath the snow. The Tentsite spur is not signed or blazed although a sign for an outhouse is found shortly west of it and on the opposite side of the trail. I’m pretty sure there were a number of blowdowns on the trail but I don’t recall anything about them at this point, sorry. |
|Lost and Found:
||My first full day in Millinocket and I decide to drive into BSP… to hike in the 100MW tab ;) I was encouraged by old snowshoe tracks along the short road walk at first but it soon turned left onto a spur road shown on Gaia that seems to descend toward a small pond by the river. From here on, the trail breaking was pretty grueling. It wasn’t so much that there was a crust, as there was two layers of snow. If you stayed on top of the second one you only sunk in a few inches and could move at a good clip. If you sunk beneath the second thought, which happened quite often, it was pretty gnarly. Up above the knee sometimes. Hard to move at much more than a 1mph pace even on flat ground. Took me about 30min to get from the start of the trail to the loop jct.|
The trails were generally well blazed but still took a second to make sure I was on them at times. I hiked the loop counter-clockwise. As I made my way to Horserace Pond, I kept an eye out for the spur to the tentsite but no such luck. I did find a sign on the opposite side of the trail heading to an outhouse which I took. When I reached the pond, I could make out a tent sign on the opposite side so I whacked over to it. Some hard snowshoeing conditions over wind drifted, semi-packed snow. I hoped to find the spur trail once over there but no such luck. Although the spur trail isn’t shown on Gaia, there is a dot breaking the trail into two different mileage segments. I suspected the spur trail started there so I made my way to it. No sign of a spur trail. When I came back into the main trail I walked to this point though and sure enough there was a (non-obvious) path through the spruce. I took it and while it was followable through the thick spruce for a few dozen feet, once things opened up, it became indiscernible again. Oh well. My Gaia track makes me look like a drunk man stumbling through every which way so hopefully I was on the trail most of the way at some point. It is given with a distance in the guidebook so one should at least try and do their due diligence here.
I also snapped a broken hiking pole beneath the snow during this half or or so long “where’s the damn campsite spur?” excursion which made the rest of the hike more difficult. I soon reached the jct with Rainbow Loop Trail. Drifted snow along the edge of the water. Bit of a sidehill as the trail began to ascend the nameless knob but not too bad and not very steep at all. A little steeper as it tackled the grade more head on but still not too bad. Just slow going with trail breaking. I was very happy to finally reach the summit ledges and enjoy sunshine, views, and some much needed food. A bit harder to trail find for a ways after this as blazes were beneath the snow on ledge and cairns were largely covered by snow. Once below tree line, there was also some very steep slopes/side hills. No cliffs or anything so I wouldn’t necessarily call them no fall zones but you still wouldn’t want to fall here and tumble down into a tree. Just a place to test snowshoe technique perhaps. Long trek out past the beaver ponds, with one or two obscure turns in the trail to reach Blue Trail.
Blue Trail kind of felt like it went on forever. Lots of minor PUDS most of the way, then a steeper final descent toward the pond at the end. I actually found it quicker ascending back toward the jct then descending toward Rainbow Lake given trail breaking conditions. In other words, descending was still slow going. A nasty spot of deeper drifted snow through some brush along the trail too. Took me about 1.25hrs our, then 1hr back or so.
The rest of the trail back out was generally easier. Blue Trail was pretty much all downhill from here, then Horserace Pond Trail back to the road I’d already broken and didn’t involve much uphill. Overall, this hike, given snow conditions was much harder than anticipated. Gaia had me at about 10mi, 1600ft of gain, 9.25hrs. How much quicker would I have done that in summer?!
||Liam Cooney |
Disclaimer: Reports are not verified - conditions may vary. Use at own risk. Always be prepared when hiking. Observe all signs. Trail conditions reports are not substitutes for weather reports or common sense.