|Thru-hiker "Belch" took this photo of us on the summit.|
"Have you hiked Katahdin?"
I usually blush and mumble "No, but I really want to."
Mt. Katahdin is the tallest mountain in Maine and arguably one of the most exciting and challenging climbs in New England. So when my adventurer guide friend, Sarah, asked if I wanted to join her on her first Katahdin climb, I jumped at the opportunity...and into her Civic. From the complicated permitting process, to the epic climb up to the Abol trail, to the night hike down the Hunt trail, we loved our adventure from start to finish.
|Fall leaves were vivid in Northern Maine|
Here is how to recreate this adventure...
Adventure: Katahdin Climb, Baxter State Park, ME.
Getting there: One of the reasons I'd never adventurered to Katahdin before is, it is a looooong drive to get there. Mt. Katahdin is located in Baxter State Park. It was a five hour drive from North Conway, NH. To get there, take I-95 in Maine to Millinocket. From here, follow signs to Baxter State Park. Since we couldn't secure camping reservations inside the park, we camped at Penobscot Outdoor Center which is located just a few miles out of Millinocket and only two miles from the South entrance to Baxter.
Trail: There are multiple trails to Baxter Peak (highest peak on Mt. Katahdin). You need a permit to park at the trailhead to any of them. As a result, Sarah and I were at the mercy of whichever
|Up Abol Trail/|
|heart cairn - photo by Sarah Audsley|
The views were AMAZING at the summit. On one side we got views of Chimney Pond, Owls Peak, and the Knife's Edge, and on the other, an ocean of clouds. We were welcomed by a rowdy group of thru-hikers who had just finished their 6 month trek along the AT. It was wonderful to see them celebrate the end of their journey and join in on the merriment.
|Sarah enjoys a snack break at the summit. Looking at knifes edge.|
|Hunt Trail/ Last mile of the AT|
Difficulty Level: Strenuous and Challenging! The Abol trail was steep and challenging with many large boulders and straight up. The Hunt Trail was technical with large rock steps. The Hunt Trail was also highly exposed and would be dangerous if the weather was bad.
Distance: + 9 miles. 11 hours including breaks.
|Summit of Baxter Peak. Photo by Sarah Audsley.|
BE PREPARED! This comes down to planning way in advance for trail and camping, bringing proper gear, knowing your route, and your capabilities. If you follow this, you are bound to have a great trip.
Trail Permits - Reserve your permit in advance (you are allowed up to 2 weeks prior). Camping permits can be made up to 4 months in advance. We were lucky to obtain a parking spot reservation with only one day's notice but didn't get the trail we wanted. Read the fine print! You will lose your parking permit if you don't get there by 7:05 am! This happened to us and we were soooo lucky that we still got to hike!
|Camping at Penobscot Outdoor Center|
Camping - We didn't reserve in time to camp in the park, but we really enjoyed camping at Penobscot Outdoor Center. The campground offers wooded, lakeside tent site, cabin rentals, and canvas tent rentals. They have hot showers, bathrooms, and free canoe rental. The price was right (13 dollars a person per night) and was only 2 miles from the park's southern entrance. Great place!
Hiking - This is a really challenging hike. In fact, Sarah - an experienced guide - said it might be the most challenging hike she's ever done. This is because the large rocks and steep elevation gain makes it just take a long time. It's not good for someone who has bad knees or inexperienced.
|Hunt trail near summit|
Gear - It's a long hike. Bring plenty of water - I drank three liters and it was a cool day!! Summer, I would need even more. Bring lots of food, protection from the sun (lots of exposure on the hike), first aid kit, compass, map (and knowledge of how to use it), layered clothing, and a head lamp.
Mt. Katahdin was an amazing experience. Sarah and I experienced thrilling hiking, outstanding fall weather, and unforgettable views.
|Looking up the Hunt trail.|
Please leave comments and questions below!