There are two Snow Mountains in the Rangeley Lakes Region of Western Maine. This is the higher of the two and is near the lakes known as "Chain of Ponds." The other Snow Mountain is often referred to as Cupsuptic Snow.
At 3960' Snow almost meets the 4000' foot threshold and therefore is a significant peak with excellent views. However, being just shy of 4000 footer status, the amount of traffic on this peak is limited mostly to those seeking to complete the New England Hundred Highest, of which Snow ranks #70.
The summit is mostly wooded, but has a decrepit fire warden's tower which allows one to gain 360 degree views of most of the major peaks in Western Maine as well as peaks along and on the other side of the Canadian Border.
They say getting there is half the fun. In the case of Snow Mountain, the adage holds true. The drive from the Rangeley/Stratton area is beautiful and a provides the opportunity to explore some backwoods dirt roads in a very remote area.
From the Post Office in Stratton, drive north on Maine Route 27 for 9.0 miles. Then turn left on a dirt road with a hand made sign announcing you are entering Penobscot Indian Territory. There are no other roads off of 27 here, so it is easy to find.
Penobscot sign at the turnoff from Hwy 27.
You will come to a gate immediately after turning off of 27. From here it is 5 miles to the trailhead. Stay on the main (a relative term) dirt road for 3.9 miles. There are several roads that turn off of the main route, but it will be very obvious that they are less frequently traveled.
At 3.9 miles you will come to a fork in the road. Take the right fork and travel for another 1.1 miles to a small parking area.
There is a small sign in the far right corner of the parking area with a .
double-track ATV trail leading into the woods behind it. Follow this route for 2.0 miles. It climbs about 1000' and is moderately steep in spots. Watch out for ATVs on this lower portion of the hike.
Hiking the ATV trail.
As you get closer to Snow Pond the trail takes a fork to the right which is marked with a small yellow arrow and a sign that says "Snow Mtn. Trail."
Take the right fork here.
The ATV trail get mushy and muddy from here on to Snow Pond. You will reach the pond in a couple tenths of a mile from this point, 2 miles after leaving the parking lot (elevation approx 2800'). Take a walk through the woods to the edge of the pond. If you walk out on the rocks you will get a great view of the peak you are about to climb.
There is an old fire warden's cabin on the far side of the pond. If you end up over there, you have gone too far. The ATV trail has logs dragged across it where you need to turn right onto the Snow Mountain Trail (old fire warden's trail). It ascends steeply for about 1.5 miles to the summit. There are no route finding issues here. The trail goes straight up the peak.
As you near the suumit, you will pass a signed junction with a trail coming in from the left that leads to (or used to lead to Big Island Pond. It appears this trail is not maintained anymore and possibly came up at one time from a private hunting or fishing club. Soon after this junction, you will reach a small opening in the trees with superb views to the south. It is only a few hundred feet to the summit from here.
The fire tower at the summit has fallen into a state of extreme disrepair and no longer has the top on it. There is a bit of broken glass from the windows and the entire roof and lookout box from the tower just laying on the ground. There are also the remmains of an old cabin as well as a few car batteries and propane tanks in the vicinity of the summit.
As of September 2006, the ladder on the firetower was still climbable. The extra climb was well worth the extra effort. You get up above the trees and can see for dozen of miles in every direction. This is a great place to scout out your next climb.
Summit view to the south. Bigelow Range, Sugarloaf and Crockers are visible in the distance.
Please be aware that the old fire warden's cabin on the far shore of Snow Pond is private property.
This area is managed by the Penobscot Nation. If you plan to camp out in the vicinity of Snow Mountain, check with them at (207)827-7776 x-379.
See note above under "Red Tape" if you are interested in camping near or on Snow Mountain.
The Chain of Ponds area played an important role in the Revolutionary War. Benedict Arnold lead a ragtag group of Continental soldiers up the Kennebec Valley and along the Dead River/Chain of Ponds in the early winter of 1775 on his way to an ill-fated attack on Quebec City. Along the way the troops faced such hardship and deprivation that many of those who did not perish resorted to boiling and eating the leather in their shoes. Kenneth Roberts' historical novel Arundel
brings this colonial era wilderness epic to life. This book is a must-read for anyone who loves history and the mountains of Western Maine.