Bigelow Mountain is part of the 36,000 acre Bigelow Preserve which is owned by the State of Maine. The range includes 17-miles of the A.T. and 11-miles of official A.T. side trails. Bigelow Mountain is a popular hike and is heavily used by youth groups, hardy day hikers and long distance backpackers.
From May to October, MATC’s Bigelow Ridgerunner lives in a tent at Horns Pond campsite on the edge of a sub-alpine pond and spends considerable time on summits. Horns Pond campsite can host 50 overnight visitors. The Ridgerunner works with all visitors and focuses on youth in organized groups and long distance backpackers. The Ridgerunner prepares visitors from Horns Pond campsites for their hikes into the alpine zone.
On Bigelow Mountain’s West and Avery peaks impacts to alpine plants from hikers are the primary concern. The Ridgerunner shares knowledge about rare, vulnerable plants which are uniquely adapted to the rugged alpine environment – intense wind and sun, thin soil, and a short growing season. Using the Saddleback and Bigelow Mountain Alpine Guide the Ridgerunner teaches people how to identify and protect alpine and sub-alpine plants through preparedness and backcountry hiking and camping skills. Specifically, by: hiking in small groups; preparing for weather conditions and emergencies; packing tents, stoves and other essential gear; traveling on durable surfaces (trails, inorganic soils, rock, deep snow); keeping dogs leashed; and using designated toilets, or if a privy is not available packing-out poop and toilet paper or burying waste in a 6-inch “cat-hole” well below tree-line. The Ridgerunner dissuades people from camping in the alpine zone or lighting fires (both are illegal on these mountain summits).
The Ridgerunner patrols the trails and campsites below tree-line as well and teaches Leave No Trace knowledge, skills and ethics throughout the Bigelow Preserve.