Mount Katahdin - Baxter State Park
Mt. Katahdin - Maine's Highest Peak
Mt. Katahdin, or K'tahdn as the Abnaki tribes refer to it, is Maine's highest peak at 5,267 feet above sea level. It is surrounded by 200,000 acre Baxter State Park and miles of forests beyond that.
Every room at 5 Lakes Lodge looks directly at Mt. Katahdin, a view that beckons guests to come closer. Many climb to the top. Others hike to its base. Everyone enjoys the numerous scenic views of Katahdin.
Katahdin marks the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail that starts 2,181 miles to the south at Springer Mountain in Georgia. Many hike its full length each year, generally ending at Katahdin. Many times, more folks hike short sections either on day hikes or overnight backpacking trips.
5 Lakes Lodge is located along the Appalachian Trail's section known as the "100 Mile Wilderness" because the trail runs that distance between paved public highway crossings. However, numerous logging roads now cross thr trail, providing access to many short hiking opportunities.
Hikes for All Abilities
Your hosts, Rick & Debbie LeVasseur, are natives of the area who will make your stay one that you won't soon forget. Whatever your interest or hiking ability, Rick & Debbie can point you in the right direction, as they did with these happy guests:
"My wife and I spent a week and it was our 25th wedding anniversary. During our week stay we hiked Katahdin and the knifes edge. With our host's knowledge of the area, their directions and suggestions it enabled us to make the most of the adventure time we had. Try it, you'll love it, we did!" - Bobby & Cheryl Theriault, Rhode Island
"Rick and Debbie went out of their way to help us in whatever activity we wanted. Tom made it up Mt. Katahdin and back -- a lifetime goal. There are no more helpful or welcoming hosts!" - Susan & Tom DeBolt, Virginia
"Debbie and Rick were generous with their knowledge of the region, offering us good advice about dining and hiking options." - Anita Renton, Massachusetts
"We had such a great time!! We were happy to be able to summit Katahdin. What a mean mountain!" - Peter & Tracy Dobie, Ontario
"We did a lot of hiking in Baxter Park, boating and wildlife watching. For the amateur astronomer hungry for dark skies I can say that this is the place you want to be: watch the stars at night and the moose during the day." - Avner Butnaru, Massachusetts
"Baxter State Park - just on the doorstep - is one of the most unspoiled and tranquil parks we have ever hiked in - and it's also the traditional end-point of the long-distance Appalachian Trail. Don't miss the chance to see the Park." - Ben & Jayne Dunsbee, Kent, England
"We were awed with the surrounding area and especially enjoyed our hikes on Mt. Katahdin, the beautiful loons on the lake and the picking of wild blueberries. The hikes on Mt. Katahdin were special. The trails are unique and challenging but so worthwhile. It was so awe-inspiring as we started our climb in full sunshine and then the clouds began to creep over the top of the ridge and obscure the summit. Soon after we reached the top the clouds gave way to the sun again and wow! The views were spectacular. It was a most rewarding adventure and experience that we shall never forget. What an awesome mountain is the great Katahdin." - Dale & Vickie Bynum, Texas
Hiking Trails on Mt. Katahdin
The following are the popular trails going up Mt. Katahdin. Each trail features a page of photos so you can get a close look at what they are like.
Abol Campground to Thoreau Spring
This trail was originally opened by Nature herself when a great landslide in 1816 destroyed what was believed to be a cliff or cliffs. The slide is obvious from the Penobscot River and the early pioneers made good use of this naturally cleared route up Katahdin.
The trail leaves Abol Campground and heads northeast, ascending along a feeder branch of Abol Stream through thickly wooded spruce forests to a height of 3,200 feet and the beginning of Abol Slide. Caution is advised while ascending the slide; the rocks are loose and sometimes slippery. Be careful not to loosen any rocks, which might fall, injuring someone below; try to hike along the sides of the brush without getting into the brush. A level area of terrace called "Green Island" is soon reached, where an old camp (called Sewall Camp after Warden Frank A. Sewall) used to sit. After the terrace, the trail continues its ascent up the slide through the Needle's Eye. These large talus boulders present some serious hiking. Soon after the Needle's Eye, the trail reaches the Tableland at 4,700 feet and the walking is somewhat easier. Thoreau Spring (not a reliable water source) is reached in a few hundred yards. Abol Trail terminates at this point. Use extreme caution on the descent.
Chimney Pond Trail
Roaring Brook Campground to Chimney Pond
This trail, following Roaring Brook from Roaring Brook Campground, is a main artery from the south entrance of Baxter State Park to the base of Katahdin. It gets heavy use during the peak of the season and parking is always an issue. It is best to reserve a parking spot in advance.
From Roaring Brook Campground, bear west (left) from the junction sign. The trail continues along an old tote road, then crosses a brook to its northeast bank. At approximately 2¼ mile, the trail passes the south shore of Lower Basin Pond and enters the horseshoe-shaped valley of the Great Basin, which was carved by an ancient glacier. Still heading west, the trail ascends along mossy boulders and a rocky, root-bound footway. The North Basin Cut-off Trail will be on your right. Many footbridges are encountered from here on as the trail crosses a wetland area. The trail passes south of Dry Pond (wet only in spring or after a heavy rain) and soon reaches a junction with the North Basin Traill, which leads north (right) to Blueberry Knoll and/or the Hamlin Ridge Trail. Continuing southwest 0.3 of a mile, the trail passes a bunkhouse and terminates at a junction within sight of Chimney Pond.
Northern End of Appalachian Trail - Katahdin Stream Campground to Baxter Peak
From Katahdin Stream Campground, the trail heads northeast paralleling Katahdin Stream, and ascends at a moderate grade through mixed forests and open areas. These areas are strewn with huge boulders of pink and white Katahdin granite. At approximately 1.1 mile, a side trail turns left and ascends 2.2 miles to the summit of "The Owl" (elevation 3,736 feet). Shortly after this intersection you will cross Katahdin Stream and have an opportunity to view Katahdin Stream Falls.
Ascending at a steep grade, the trail keeps to the southeast (right) of Whitherle Ravine and after 1.5 miles you will pass a "cave" formed by two large rocks. The next mile, known as the Hunt Spur, is very steep and difficult until you reach the "Gateway." After the Gateway, there is easier walking along the Tableland. (This section is exposed, so proceed cautiously or turn back in inclement weather.) The trail traverses the Tableland north approximately ¼ mile to Thoreau Spring. An unreliable water source, it is named for Henry David Thoreau, who climbed Baxter Peak in the 1800s. From the junction, Abol Trail descends south down a rough slide area (Abol Slide); Baxter Peak Cut-off heads north across the Tableland to the Saddle Trail and the Hunt Trail continues east across the Tableland a distance of 1 mile to Baxter Peak. A sign at Baxter Peak marks the northern end of the Appalachian Trail.
Chimney Pond to Baxter Peak, the "hard" way
This trail offers the shortest climb from Chimney Pond Campground to Baxter Peak. The hike, following blue blazes, is a strenuous one. There are no water sources along the route, so fill up at the campground.
From the ranger's cabin, the trail leaves southwest and rises through evergreen forest toward the base of the massive rock formations, which resemble the buttresses and spires of three cathedrals. The trail first passes Cleftrock Pool; after a large cairn (a man-made pile of stones) it bears right, across a talus boulder field and approaches the first "cathedral." The higher second "cathedral" is soon reached and, at 1 mile from the trailhead, the third "cathedral" is attained. From here, the trail bears left (Cathedral Cut-off Trail goes right) and, in ¼ mile, merges with the Saddle Trail and on to Baxter Peak. Note: This trail is too steep to recommend as a descent route and should never be attempted in the rain.
Chimney Pond to Baxter Peak, the "easier" way
Heading west from Chimney Pond Campground the trail ascends through fir and spruce and in ¾ mile, crosses a brook. Traversing an old slide, the trail brings the hiker above treeline to some great views. (Caution is advised along the upper half of this trail; exposure is maximum.) Continuing the ascent up the Saddle slide, the trail climbs along scrub growth called "krumholtz" (crooked wood). At 1 mile, the trail swings southeast around the rim of the Great Basin toward the Tableland and, ½ mile from the top of the slide, reaches a junction. Here, Baxter Peak Cut-off Trail heads west (right) and Cathedral Trail heads east (left); Saddle Trail continues southeast, ascending a steep section on its way to Baxter Peak. Just before the summit, you will intersect with the Cathedral Trail. At the summit proper, the Knife Edge heads southeast and Hunt Trail heads southwest.
Knife Edge Trail
This spectacular hike traverses the renowned Knife Edge ridge from Baxter Peak to Pamola Peak (you must also hike to and from these peaks). The trail encompasses four peaks, a broad, sloping plateau, and a serrated ridge that in places is little more than a few feet wide.
The Knife Edge has blue blazes marking the best route and it needs them - due to the steepness and narrowness of this ridge or, "arete," there is only one way to go! The Knife Edge is in a zone of maximum exposure; caution is advised. This route has known many accidents - some fatal - so take the weather seriously before ascending!
From Pamola Peak, head southwest, descending a steep scetion of the floor of "the Chimney." Go across the floor and make the fairly difficult climb to Chimney Peak. This is technically where the Knife Edge begins. The trail ascends and descends over out-crops, boulders and other smaller fragments. Take care - there are no rope catches or other climbing aids along this route, so the hiker must be prepared to climb totally on his/her own. Continue southwest along the narrow ridge, descending steeply, and begin an ascent of South Peak. Once you have reached the summit proper, the trail swings northwest for the narrow walk across the completion of the Knife Edge. The trail terminates at Baxter Peak.
Chimney Pond to Pamola Peak
During the early 1900's Leroy Dudley, the famous Maine Guide, blazed this trail. It ascends Pamola Peak at a very steep grade, almost completely above treeline. Exposure is maximum and caution is advised.
From the Chimney Pond ranger's cabin, head east by the northeast shore of Chimney Pond. The trail, marked with blue blazes, begins a very steep ascent through scrub trees and mossy boulders. Some striking cliffs are seen on the right. At 0.4 mile, a spur trail turns left to caves created from fallen slabs of Katahdin granite. These caves offer shelter from the rain, but they are no place to be if thunder and lightning are present. Past this spur trail, Dudley Trail continues its ascent along the rocky way and soon rises above treeline. There are many fine views along the upper portion of this trail. Index Rock is a great place for stunning photos. At Pamola Peak, Helon Taylor Trail comes in on the east (left) and the Knife Edge Trail descends southwest.
Helon Taylor Trail
Roaring Brook to Pamola Peak
Named for the much-appreciated former supervisor of Baxter State Park, this trail offers a short but rugged ascent to Pamola Peak.
Take Chimney Pond Trail for ¼ mile; turn west onto Helon Taylor Trail; ascent is fairly steep. Continue ascent southwest, crossing a stream (last water source). The ascent to Keep Ridge begins, with views worth many stops. This entire section, all the way to Pamola, is very exposed; caution is advised, as severe weather could blow in unexpectedly from the blind (west) side of Pamola. Following the cairns (rock piles), ascend the remainder of Keep Ridge to the summit proper, where there are excellent views of the Katahdin range. Here Dudley Trail leaves to the north (right) and the awesome Knife Edge juts out to the southwest (left).
Note: Do not attempt the Knife Edge Trail if inclement weather looks at all threatening; in fact, descend from this peak immediately. The peak, known for its violent storms, inspired the Indian legends of Pamola, the huge, destructive storm bird.
Baxter State Park Season & Gate Hours
For safety reasons, rangers at Baxter Park require you to start your hikes early enough to safely finish in daytime. The times are available at our lodge.
Additional Baxter State Park Info
For more information on Baxter State Park, visit:
More Hiking Trails in the Katahdin Region
The Katahdin Region is blessed with many scenic, challenging, interesting or wildlife-filled hiking opportunities created naturally as the last Great Iceage Glacier retreated north of the Appalachian Divide. We know these hikes very well, having lived in the area all our lives. We hope you enjoy the photos and trail information of some of our other favorite hikes on these pages:
Ice Cave at 1st Debsconeag Lake
Another great hiking destination, either by itself or in combination with a hike on the Appalachian Trail near Abol Bridge, is the ICE CAVE TRAIL.
The Ice Cave Trail is on property owned by the Nature Conservancy and is known as the Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area (DLWA). The DLWA is a 46,000 acre Wilderness Reserve that is open to the public for a variety of recreational uses. The trail is very easy to get to, short in length (3 miles round trip) and is about as "easy" a trail as can be found in the Katahdin Region!
Click on Photo for More Info
If you're looking for incredible scenery, warm hospitality and rustic elegance, 5 Lakes Lodge Bed and Breakfast, on "the other coast of Maine", is a wonderful place to experience the best that Maine has to offer.