Hiking Mt. Katahdin, Maines Tallest Peak. An Unconventional Approach
Right off I'm going to tell you that this approach to summiting Mt. Katahdin is going to add on an extra 11 miles, so, if you aren't prepared to day hike at the very least 19 miles on difficult trails then you may be wasting your time reading this. If you are prepared to give it a go, then hellz yea! Congrats on taking on an ambitious adventure!!! Let's get to it!
I mapped this route out because the way things were working out logistically as far as getting dropped off, picked up, what time, and where were turning into a major headache, so, I figured it would just be easier to pack on a few extra miles to keep the start and finish one location.
The Camp Ground
We stayed at Abol Pines Campground located just outside Baxter State Park Right here:
This is the start and finish point for the hike. This is not to be confused with Abol Campground inside Baxter State Park (Even though Abol Campground is the official start of the ascent, that is not this hike and will be covered in a later post). The sites are $12 per person per site. It is a bit expensive, but, SO worth it for this hike because when you come back you are not going to want to go anywhere except bed. Check out Abol Pines Campground Website for more info and rates they fall under the Penobscot River Corridor.
From Camp to Peak to Camp Again
Here is the route I came up with to summit Mt. Katahdin from Abol Pines Campground all laid out. This doesn't include the knifes edge exploration, lost time, or goofing off I was doing at the summit. This is a straight up loop up and out with waypoints. Here you go:
The Adventure by Waypoint
1. - The Campground to Abol Stream Trailhead:
We stayed at Abol Pines Campground. This was my start and finish. All the info for this campground is in the section above . It is an awesome campground and perfect for this journey. I started my journey from camp at around 5:30. I hiked up the road a bit to get onto the Appalachian Trail. Then I followed the Appalachian Trail for a bit and the Abol Stream Trail branches off to the right.
2. - Abol Stream Trail to Park Tote Road:
From the Abol Stream Trailhead I followed Abol Stream Trail all the way into Baxter State Park and up to Park Tote Road. There is a really cool picnic area to hang out at before you get to the road. It's an awesome place to watch the sunrise and do some stretches or relax for a bit.
3. - Park Tote Road to Abol Campground:
When you get to Park Tote Road you are going to take a left. Follow the road all the way to Abol Campground. It's super straight forward and has a steady incline. Nothing super intense.
4. - Abol Campground, Registration, and Abol Trailhead:
When you get to Abol Campground you are going to go to the ranger station and register your hike there. They are looking for your name and which trails you are going to be ascending and descending on and what time you are heading up. From there it is time to ascend the official start of Mount Katahdin on Abol Trail. Congrats!!!
5. - Baxter Peak:
This is the next stop on the journey. The Abol Trail is a grind! It is a ton of fun though. At Baxter Peak it is time to celebrate, take in the view, and eat some grub. If you have some time and energy to explore the peak up here has some awesome adventuring to do. Knifes Edge is really cool. I had a blast up there. If you are going to do exploring make sure you are mindful of the time so you're not hiking back in the dark. That can get a little dicey. Most important up here though: Take it all in and be present.
6. - The Hunts Trail Cross Roads:
So this is where I got a little mixed up and if you are doing this peak hopefully I can save you a bit of time and miles. When you are at Baxter Peak make sure you pay attention to where you come up you will have to double back down. I didn't realize how many different options there were to summit on and I took the wrong trail down and ended up way off course. It wasn't too big a deal because there was a connecting trail to Hunt It just added on time and a couple extra miles to my journey. So, double back to this waypoint!
7. - Hunts Trail Sign Out:
Here is where your official journey summiting Mt. Katahdin ends, but, not for us. Make sure you sign out so all the rangers know you are out. After you sign out you are going to continue to the road and continue the journey back to camp.
8. - Blueberry Ledges Trailhead:
Here is the final leg of the journey. You will take a left onto the road from the Hunt Trail and walk up the road for a bit. The trailhead itself is behind a pit toilet on the right hand side of the road. It's a bit weird to find. (When I set out to find this, the map I had made it look like the trailhead is off the Appalachian Trail, so, that added a bit of time and miles for me. I had to double back and find the trailhead.) Blueberry Ledges Trail is gorgeous. Especially on the Baxter State Park side of the trail. It is covered with massive amounts of moss everywhere. This is the final leg of the journey.
9. - Back to Camp: The end of Blueberry Ledges Trail intersects with the Appalachian Trail where you take a right onto Abol Stream Trail. Once you hook up with that trail again you follow it all the way back to camp the same way you started out. Congrats!!! You made it!!!
This journey was amazing! I would do it again in a second. If you are summiting Baxter Peak this way make sure you take a lot of water and food. Start early, too! Most of the time I spent up there was goofing off and exploring. As a straight up loop hike with this start and finish without the extra adventuring and exploration you're looking at 19 miles at the very least. It was super fun!
As always safe travels, be adventurous, and pack it in pack it out!