Distance: 8.8 miles (traverse)
Elevation gain: 2,300'ish
Trailhead: This hike intercepts the AT where it crosses Caribou Valley Road (CVR - also called the Caribou Pond Road) in Carrabassett Valley, Maine. CVR is off Route 27 near Stratton, Maine just past (or before depending on your direction) the Sugarloaf/USA Ski Area access road (on the same side). The road is not well marked. Park at the barriers and proceed over the bridge .5 miles by foot down the road to the AT crossing. The hike ends at the AT parking lot on Route 27 several miles before the town of Stratton (well marked). CVR road condition update June 2016 - with the exception of one rough bridge, the CVR is in okay shape, with just a few ruts and several bumpy culverts. The bridge is sturdy but with many 6-pack size holes in it. It's best to get out and look at it closely before driving over it. When driving in we stayed to the left. (A Prius and Lexus sedan were parked at the end so you don't necessarily need a vehicle with high clearance.)
This was the weekend of the Mountain Mommas annual hike. Nine of us stayed at a ski house near the Sugarloaf Resort. Only three of us opted to hike the Crockers, which turned out to be a lovely hike through sweet, sunny woods with areas of dramatic vistas.
Hiked with Rich and Norm. We would start at the AT crossing on Caribou Valley Road (CVR) and end at the AT crossing on Route 27 east of Stratton.
We arrived at the Stratton Motel (AT hiker accommodations) about 6:50 a.m. and followed the shuttle to the Route 27 AT crossing where we left our car. After parking, we got in and rode to the CVR trailhead. Since this hike is a traverse from one AT road crossing to the next, taking the shuttle eliminated the need for a second car.
But the real reason we took the shuttle was the condition of the Caribou Valley Road.
An old logging road, the CVR is falling into disrepair, particularly the culverts and bridges. I imagine hikers would have had to backpack to bag these peaks prior to the building of this road.
The day before this hike, we found the road (which is 1.6 miles from the Route 27 AT crossing) and tried to see how far we could take our Highlander (4 WD but without the high clearance and skid plates). We got 2.5 miles in; the AT crossing is several miles beyond that. Rocks, ruts and half fallen in bridges kept us from going any further. Sue from the Stratton Motel drives that road many times each week and her Land Rover was able to negotiate the terrain much better, even over the grate bridge but she stopped before the next wooden bridge, .2 miles before the AT (Note - the grate bridge has been blocked off, park there). The AT is not hard to find if you are looking for it and soon we saw the subtle break in the trees along the road and the familiar well-worn path and white blazes.
|Looking down the CVR|
|A view of the AT crossing at CVR|
|Norm hiking up the slide.|
|Viewless summit of North Crocker|
The hike down was longer than the hike up. It took 3 miles to get from the CVR AT crossing to North Crocker, and just over 5 miles to get from there to our car at the Route 27 AT crossing. After a few initial steep areas (and more great views), the route became a moderate descent, almost gentle, with sunlight playing off the leaves and moss. It was quiet and pleasant with muddy spots here and there.