Cranberry Peak, Eustis
Map shows Bigelow Preserve. Cranberry Peak trail is in light green.
This 3,194-foot peak is the smallest of the seven that range across the magnificent 36,000-acre Bigelow Preserve Public Land. If you start from Eustis (which has a smaller parking area than the trailhead from Stratton Pond Brook Road), the 3.2-mile Range Trail to Cranberry’s peak begins fairly gradually, before hitting a steeper section and then easing up for the final mile. The elevation gain is a bit over 2,000 feet.
You’ll see a few mediocre views along the way, which makes the summit, a dramatic rocky point, so splendid. There are views all around, of Sugarloaf, the next Bigelow peak, Flagstaff Lake, and mountains.
In the winter, you’ll probably have to park a little farther away from the trailhead, adding just .2 miles to your walk. Also, for the first 1.5 miles or so, you’ll likely hear, and occasionally see, the nearby Stratton mill. It was producing a sweet odor the day we were there.
I think many people also begin their hike from Stratton Brook Pond Road. It is easy to access, closer to Sugarloaf, and larger. Here you can catch the Appalachian Trail and hike up 2.3 miles to the Range Trail. From the parking area on Stratton Brook Pond Road, you can follow a dirt road leading north away from the lot. Take a quick right on Cranberry Peak Road (a dirt road) and go about 100 yards to where the Appalachian Trail crosses the track (there will be a big sign for the Bigelow Preserve). Turn left onto the AT and start your hike. The first mile is relatively flat before it starts climbing. The trail can be quite muddy in spots.
At 2.3 miles, take a left toward Cranberry Pond (we didn’t swim because signs warning of Giardia contamination.) The summit is 1.5 miles from the pond—the last .3 are quite difficult, steep and filled with boulders. But the view is spectacular.
Directions: If you start in Stratton, the parking area is at the end of Curry Road, a dead-end road in Stratton, off of Route 16. Or, you can start on the Appalachian Trail, which you can access via Stratton Brook Pond Road. After turning off Route 27 to Stratton Brook Pond Road, go about .85 miles to the first large clearing for cars. Start your walk on the dirt road headed toward the mountain—soon you’ll see a sign for the dirt Cranberry Peak Road. Follow this a short distance to where the Appalachian Trail crosses the road. There will be a large sign for the Bigelow Preserve.