Maine Huts & Trails Week: Day Three, Mountain Biking to the Flagstaff Hut

Charlie Woodworth didn’t take the helm of Maine Huts & Trails to sit behind a desk. He knows these trails in western Maine like the back of his hand, as he showed Lisa and me on Day Three while riding the 11 miles over to the Flagstaff Hut. We would soon learn that he also happens to be a helluva biker, taking the roots, rocks, and turns easily and offering pedaling pointers for us along the way. Much of the land we would be traversing today is part of the Penobscot Indian Reservation, including our first leg, the Sticky Trail, a technical singletrack through a forest of hemlocks.

As we rode, Charlie gave me an update on the progress of this non-profit organization. They currently have 1450 members and their dues go straight to trail maintenance. 4 of the eco-lodges have been built and they plan to continue with construction southwest of the first hut we visited, Stratton Brook Hut, towards Rangeley. Their ultimate goal is to have 12 backcountry huts over 180 miles of trails all the way north to Baxter State Park. Judging from Charlie’s passion and perseverance, along with all the enthusiastic MH&T staffers I met along the way, I have no doubt they’ll achieve that goal. 

We said goodbye to Charlie at the Flagstaff Hut, snagged one of Megan Costello’s heavenly chocolate chip cookies, and exchanged mountain bikes for an Old Town canoe. We were surprised to find that we’d be paddling with a frog that was camping out in the canoe. Canoeing along the shores of Flagstaff Lake, the 4th largest lake in Maine, the mighty ridge of the 4,000-foot Bigelow Mountains soon came into view. Adding to the allure was a bald eagle that flew overhead. The waters were even more magical that evening when we watched a perfect orb of a reddish-orange sun set in the notch between Blanchard Mountain and Pickled Chicken Hill. Living the dream.