Difficulty: Moderate-strenuous. The 2.9-mile trail route to the Maine Huts & Trails Stratton Brook Hut, much of it being on the Newton’s Revenge Trail, is a gradual incline (though steeper in sections), requiring endurance.
How to get there: If you are driving north on Route 27 in Carrabassett Valley, the parking lot to the trailhead (marked with a Maine Huts & Trails sign) is just past the Sugarloaf Access Road on the right. This is also not far from the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center.
From the trailhead, hike a short distance to the Narrow Gauge Trail and cross a large bridge (signs will point to Stratton Brook Hut). Not long after the bridge, you will come to another trail juncture. Turn right, towards Stratton Brook Hut. Continue to another trail juncture (0.7 mile into the hike), where you will turn left towards Stratton Brook Hut. From that point on, you are hiking on the Newton’s Revenge Trail (which isn’t identified on the sign) for 2.2 miles to Stratton Brook Hut.
Information: Newton’s Revenge Trail is just one of the many trails that make up the Maine Huts & Trails hut-to-hut trail network in western Maine. It can be reached via Narrow Gauge Trail, which can by several trailhead. The trailheads that are closest to the Newton’s Revenge Trail are the Route 27 Trailhead near the Sugarloaf Access Road, and the Campbell Field Trailhead near the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center.
The Newton’s Revenge Trail is wide and gradually climbs to Stratton Brook Hut — a lodge and bunkhouse (that sleeps 42 people) located on a granite outcrop 1,880 feet above sea level. The trail switchbacks up the hill and offers views of Sugarloaf Mountain to the south for much of the way. Near the end, the trail becomes steeper and rounds the hill to offer views of the Bigelow Range to the north. The Stratton Brook Hut location offers views of both mountains.
The Maine Huts & Trails hut-to-hut network was 80 miles long as of December 2012, but it continues to expand as the nonprofit organization builds backcountry lodges throughout the wilderness. If completed, the trail network will stretch 180 miles and lead to 12 lodges, making it the longest cross-country ski trail in the United States.
Since trails (for snowshoeing, cross country skiing, hiking and mountain biking) are continually being added to this network, make sure to pick up an updated trail map at the Maine Huts & Trails office and visitor center, open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, at 496 Main St. in Kingfield. Maps are also updated regularly online at www.mainehuts.org, where guests can also make reservations and find additional information about the huts, trail system and organization.
Personal note: I hiked the trail on Dec. 12, 2012, to attend the opening ceremony and ribbon cutting of Stratton Brook Hut, the fourth hut in Maine Huts & Trails hut-to-hut network. Though temperatures were in the teens, I ended up stowing my winter jacket halfway through the hike because the trail, being consistently uphill, was a bit of a workout and heated me right up. Though I didn’t stay the night at Stratton Brook Hut, I can say that it’s a beautiful, energy-efficient building in an amazing alpine location.