Mount Katahdin, Maine
Baxter State Park is an example of how big the United States is. This would be a National Park anywhere else, it is such a huge tract of utter wilderness (over 200,000 acres) with only a few logging roads criss-crossing the northern extremities. The southern end of the park does have a park road and it is here that most visitors come to camp and do some hiking/climbing around the state's highest peak, Mount Katahdin at over 5000 feet. Noted for highly changeable weather and often harsh conditions, the park can be utter paradise on a calm sunny day. Though not right on the tourist path, it is well worth making an effort to get over this way if you love nature.
Even if you do not want to climb all the way to the summit of Katahdin, Baxter State Park is a very nice place to visit. I know a lot of people will probably disagree with me, but I think the way they run the park is great. No RVs, no paved roads, no modern conveniences other than a few porta potties. I love it ! Only real outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy this place, and the mass-tourist industry ( yikes, like at Yellowstone!) stays out for the most part. Even the numbers of regular vehicles are restricted and I made reservations way in advance to get a campsite. I hope it stays that way.
We did have a rather stinky truck on the way out from all the accumulated trash, but that's ok.....
5268 feet does not sound like much , compared with the 14,000 foot mountains in Colorado, but it was still an all-day climb to reach the summit. See the sports tip for details.
The mountain is located at Baxter State Park in the northern part of Maine. Access is limited , so you need to make reservations for a campsite, or show up very early in the morning for a parking space.
We spent the nights before and after our climb of Katahdin in a cluster of lean-tos around the ranger station at Chiney Pond. In fact, those in our group who didn't climb the mountain found plenty of contentment just relaxing at this beautiful site. In order to keep the pond pristine, no swimming or washing is allowed (unless you are a moose).
If you are physically fit and want the most exhilerating climb to the top of Mt. Katahdin, you have to take Cathedral Trail, named after the cathedral-like rock formations. You will have no end of fun hopping over crevasses, pulling yourself over boulders and enjoying stupendous views. Unfortunately, the trail is so steep that it is inly recommended for climbing, not descending.
Connecting Baxter Peak to Pamola Peak on Mt. Katahdin is a narrow ridge called the Knife's Edge. Though you wouldn't know it, it also doubles as a hiking trail. Yikes! At parts, it is no more than a meter wide and it falls 3000 feet (1000 meters) on both sides. Is it dangerous? YES! Especially during times of high winds or precipitation! So only try this trail when conditions are favorable. Then be prepared for wonderful views and great boulder hopping. Oh, and watch your step!
The top of Mt. Katahdin is beautiful, and at over 5200 feet, it's about at the same height as someone from Denver who falls out of bed. Okay, the elevation is not impressive by Rocky Mountain standards, but the view is. And the climb is one of the most fun hikes I've ever done -- east or west!
Baxter State Park is a beautiful wildland in the center of Maine. It is primarily known as the home of Mount Katahdin, Maine's highest and the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.