Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Allagash Wilderness - Abandoned trains

The impetus for this trip to the Allagash Wilderness was Kevin’s viewing a story on TV about the “abandoned trains” left behind by a logging railroad.  We both enjoy trail running and are interested in history (especially involving rail trails and fire towers), so it didn’t take much to convince me to take a long weekend for some interesting sites.
We headed out on Thursday morning and drove 6 hours to our starting point which included nearly 70 miles of logging roads in the wilds of Maine.  Here is a link to the GPS track for the 70 mile drive from Kokadjo:
Thankfully we had great directions from “Untaimed Mainer”, I have posted them below but added on mileage which might be helpful to anyone heading that way.  The “rock barrier” mentioned in the directions has been removed so we weren’t 100% sure we were at the correct spot (there also was very little flagging in the woods).
We changed into running gear and headed out on our adventure in the wilderness.  It wasn’t too wild the trail was in pretty good shape although it is not officially maintained.  The worker at the Telos checkpoint ($12 each for non-Maine entrance) noted that she couldn’t give us directions but the trail was in good shape.  There is talk of making it an official trail sometime in the future.  The deerflies weren’t too bad as we jogged in 1.3 miles to the trains.  We spent about 15 minutes exploring them then did another .6 miles following the train tracks down to Chamberlain Lake.  There was a lot of interesting artifacts along the way and the remains of the camp at the end.  It was well worth the trip.
GPS track of the trail to the trains:

We ran back to the car and then added on another 2 miles on the logging road to get an even 6 miles for the run.  A few hours later we reached our camp (Wilderness Edge in Millinocket) and got in another four miles on a very buggy ATV/Snowmobile trail.  It was good to get out and stretch the legs after such a long day of driving.
Directions from “Untaimed Mainer” Using the Maine DeLorme map book which is indispensable (mileage in red added by me)
◾Drive to the small town of Kokadjo (18 miles) north of Greenville.
◾The pavement will end in Kokadjo right after the pond and the general store and turn to dirt.
◾Take a left where the pavement ends and you will be on Sias Hill Road.  Zero your odometer
◾Bear to the right (NOT towards Spencer Camps, which are on Spencer Bay Road.) 1.1 miles
◾Stay on the main road, NOT the road to the sporting camps which is on Smithtown Road. 1.4 miles
◾CHECKPOINT:  Plum Creek Sign.
◾Continue going straight, not towards Sias Hill Cutoff Road. 3.9 miles
◾Drive through the large yellow pillars. 4.5 miles
◾CHECKPOINT:  One lane bridge. 7.4 miles
◾Go forward past road to Big Spencer Mountain Trail.         7.5 miles
◾CHECKPOINT:  Ragged Riders sign and Ragged Lake East Bridge on your left          9.9 miles
◾CHECKPOINT:  One lane bridge then a “Stop Ahead” sign.            10.7 miles
◾When you come to the end of the road and stop sign you will take a right onto Golden Road.  There is no sign that shows you have reached Golden Road, just a whole bunch of hunting camp and lodge signs.     13.9 miles
◾CHECKPOINT:  Pavement!         17.5 miles
◾CHECKPOINT:  Driving past Chesuncook Lake, you will see a driftwood beach.         18.1 miles
◾CHECKPOINT:  The road becomes a mix of pavement and dirt.
◾CHECKPOINT:  Allagash Gateway Cabins sign.     19.3 miles
◾CHECKPOINT:  Drive past the road to Frost Pond Camps   21.8 miles
◾CHECKPOINT:  Power lines.       21.9 miles
◾NATURAL LANDMARK:  There is a turnout near the power lines- pull in here and look for a trail.  Just a short walk and you will see the beautiful Ripogenus Gorge!
◾The road will divide- go LEFT onto Telos Road.    23.1 miles
◾CHECKPOINT:  Ladd Hill.
◾CHECKPOINT:  Gravel pit           30.8 miles
◾CHECKPOINT:  You will see a mountain to your left (Soubunge Mountain)
◾TELOS CHECKPOINT:  You must stop at the Telos Checkpoint and give them your personal information.  37.2 miles
◾CHECKPOINT:  White and red mile marker signs, Marker 48           42.2 miles
◾Go past Telos Mountain Road which will be on your right. 42.7 miles
◾CHECKPOINT:  Allagash Wilderness Waterway sign.          44.6 miles
◾If you look at the map, it looks like the road will come to a “T” stop and you will be able to choose left or right.  In reality, the main road (Telos Road) will take a sharp right where a rest stop area lies in front of you.  It really is a rest stop, fully equipped with porta-potties!  Great place to take a quick break, and when you reach this point, you need to turn LEFT off of Telos Road and onto Guy Allen Road/Longley Stream Road.  Again, don’t bother looking for road signs, because there aren’t any.     45.5 miles
◾Take a RIGHT at the fork onto Grand Marche Road.  You will see a “Trans Canada” sign, but no sign for Grand Marche Rd. 51.8 miles
◾CHECKPOINT:  Sharp 90 degree corner and a Johnson Allagash Lodge sign.  There is a sign that says you are on Ellis Roy Road- maybe that’s another name for Grand Marche Road, I don’t know, but either way, don’t let it fool you.  You’re on the right road, so stick to the main road.    59.6 miles
◾CHECKPOINT:  Mile marker 21.  60.2 miles
◾CHECKPOINT:  One lane bridge (over Upper Deadwater/Ellis Brook)           60.6 miles
◾CHECKPOINT:  Continue on main road, do NOT turn left onto Ledge Road, heading towards Loon Lodge.       61.9 miles
◾CHECKPOINT:  West Road will be to your left and Chamberlin Lake Road will be to your right, stay on the main road. 62.8 miles
◾CHECKPOINT:  Logging camp.   63.5 miles
◾CHECKPOINT:  Mile marker 15   65.9 miles
◾Just beyond mile marker 15 there are 2 dirt roads to your right.  Both will take you to the trail to the steam locomotives.  We took the second road on the right because it looked easier to drive.  If you take the first road (66.2 miles), I don’t have any directions for you- you’re on your own!  If you take the second road, drive in until you can take a right turn, take the right turn, 67.4 miles
then drive until you come to a rock barrier across the road. No longer blocked, continue to 68.5  miles end of the road!
The hike:
Eventually that road comes to an end and you will then enter the woods, as you can see in the picture below.  Continue walking towards the woods and you will see a trail begin.  Keep looking for the colored flagging tape tied to trees and branches to show you the way.
The trail into the woods goes through several changes.  You will stay on a road for a while, but sometimes the trees will be so thick it’s hard to tell you are actually on a road.
You will know you have reached the trail head in the woods when you see a bunch of flagging tape, ribbon and bandanas tied to branches.  The road you are walking on continues straight but you will turn left here to continue on to the trail to the locomotives.
From here the path is pretty clear, but continue looking for the flagging tape if you aren’t sure you’re on the right track.
The trail winds through the woods.
Conditions can get rather muddy, so be sure you have footwear on that you don’t mind getting muddy or wet!

Sometimes the trail is clear and well defined.
Moose and deer use the trail to the steam locomotives as well.  Keep your eyes open, you may see one!
Some parts of the trail go through dense forest.  Make plenty of noise if you don’t want to surprise or encounter any wildlife!

You know you’re getting close when you start to see railroad tracks in the woods!  The trail doesn’t follow the tracks at first, it crosses them a few times winds through the woods until finally you are walking down the tracks.  Eventually you will start to see debris in the woods (iron pieces of boilers, skis, wheels, cogs, etc.) and you will know you are getting close.
Finally you’ll see a clearing up ahead, and as you get closer you will notice the two iron ghosts that rest in the clearing.  Have fun exploring in and around the locomotives, and just reverse the directions to find your way back!
Enjoy the adventure, safe travels, and as always, Stay Untamed!


MikeU said...

I've been in the Allagash Wilderness many times, but in a canoe, never on foot.

Dan said...

Very cool!