The Fly Road Crosby Trail is a 45-mile heritage hiking trail that when completed will wend its way from Strong to Oquossoc along the Sandy River, Orbeton and Hardy Streams across the Appalachian Trail and Rangeley Lake to the Sporting Heritage Museum. Currently there are two sections open, comprising over 20 miles of continuous trail. Below the sections are described coming north from Phillips.
Phillips to Madrid Section: This 7-mile section of the trail with its flat to rolling to briefly strenuous terrain begins in historic downtown Phillips, crosses the Sandy River and follows abandoned railroad beds along the river to the Orbeton Stream in Madrid.
Beginning from the parking area in Phillips, the trail starts as a walk through historic downtown Phillips (It's the neighborhood where Cornelia "Fly Rod" Crosby grew up and in later years retired to.) From the Old Gym Trailhead, walk down Depot Street and turn left on Pleasant Street. Go through downtown Phillips, past Crosby's home, the Phillips Historical Society and across the Sandy River. Turn left on Amble Street and look for the white and blue FRC Trail signs at the end of the street. Follow the signs through the forested grounds of the Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum and along the old tracks to Sanders Railroad Station.
From the Station turn left onto Bridge Street. For the next five miles follow signs along old abandoned railroad beds through mixed hardwood forests, paved and unpaved roads and an old woods road that rises in a roller coaster fashion up, along and down one of the many glacial eskers that pepper the area. The steep drop and rise at the far end of the esker will bring you to a pleasant stretch of Reeds Mills Road and a terrific view of the north side of the Tumbledown Mountain Range. A two mile walk along the gravel road will bring you across Orbeton Stream and to the trail head for the Madrid to Saddleback section.
Madrid to Saddleback Section: This 13-mile section of the trail with its moderate to strenuous terrain follows the Orbeton and Hardy streams and crosses the Appalachian Trail on the western shoulder of Saddleback Mountain terminating near the base lodge of the ski resort.
From the trailhead kiosk at Star Barn Bed and Breakfast, follow the blue-blazed foot path into the woods. In the course of two miles, the footpath rises above, descends to, follows and then rises again above the stream before turning "inland"away from the stream There are terrific swimming and fishing spots along the boulder-strewn stream; there is also a challenging and striking stretch of towering pine and cedar trees sharing the same space with gigantic moss covered boulders. Extreme care should be taken here.
The next five miles of trail closely follows Hardy Stream, through a working forest landscape with great views to the north of some of the "High Peaks" including: Saddleback, Mt Abraham, and Spaulding. The footpath passes the "Horse Hobbles," remains of an old horse logging camp, before joining up with a three and one-half mile stretch of a multi-use/modal trail that will pass by Moose and Deer Pond and Eddy Pond and cross the Appalachian Trail (AT) on the western shoulder of Saddleback Mountain. One mile beyond the AT, the trail joins with the Rock Pond hiking trail, a 2 mile section of the trail that passes Midway and Rock Ponds before ending at the parking lot at the Saddleback trailhead.
Cornelia "Fly Rod" Crosby, 1854 -1946, was Maine's first registered guide. She was a journalist, fly-fisher extraordinaire, hunter, early conservationist and outdoor enthusiast. She grew up in Phillips, guided in Rangeley and is buried in Strong. Ms. Crosby worked for the Maine Central and Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad to market the Maine Woods for early tourism. The proposed 45-mile route is closely linked to the landscape of her life. The blue and white trail signs sports the drawing of a fishing fly.
About 9 of the first 20 miles of trail is being built from scratch. The trail links a variety of existing motorized trails, woods roads and streets, and creates some new ones for non-motorized recreation. The motorized trails open to foot/two-legged traffic are referred to as "multi-use or multi-modal" trails. It is important to observe the signage, speed limits and right-of-way rules on those trails. All the trails are on land that is privately owned. Please respect their land and carry out anything you carry in with you. When completed in 2015, the trail will be managed by the Phillips-based non-profit High Peaks Alliance in partnership with local motorized and non-motorized trail groups who already successfully run recreational trails in the area.
This trail passes through a property that was acquired in part with funds from the Land for Maine’s Future program. For more information about the LMF program and the places it has helped to protect, please visit the LMF webpage.
Visit the High Peaks Alliance online for more information or contact:
Phillips Trailhead: Parking is at the Old Gym on Depot Street in downtown Phillips. Head north on ME Route 4 to Phillips. Turn right onto Pleasant Street as you come into Phillips and then left onto Depot Street. The parking lot is adjacent to the Old Gym, now Phillips Area Community Center. There will be signs and a map to direct you through a downtown walk and connection to the off-road trail.
Madrid Trailhead: Parking and trailhead is at Star Barn Bed and Breakfast on Reeds Mill Road. Head north on ME Route 4, driving 4.9 miles beyond the junction of ME Routes 4/142 in Phillips. Turn right onto Toothaker Pond Road, and continue 2.25 miles. Turn left onto Fish Hatchery Road (a dirt road) and continue for another 2 miles to the kiosk and parking lot at the top of the hill on the right after crossing Orbeton Stream.
Saddleback Mountain Trailhead: Parking is available adjacent to main Ski Lodge, requiring you walk past the condos to access the trailhead. To access the trailhead, turn on to Dallas Hill Road from ME Route 4, just south of downtown Rangeley. Continue for 2.5 miles before bearing right on to Saddleback Mountain Road. After 4.6 miles, the road enters the Saddleback ski area with the lodge on the left side of the road and three large parking lots to the right. Park in any of these and walk up the main road (first left) as it turns away from the lodge and winds up the mountain through condos. There are signs for the Rock Pond and Fly Rod Crosby Trail. The trailhead is located at the end of the road at an emergency vehicle turnaround.
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