Everything You Need to Know about Hiking Mount Katahdin

Mount Katahdin is the tallest mountain in Maine, sitting at 5,269 feet located in Baxter State Park near Millinocket, Maine. It is also the Northern most point of the Appalachian Trail and is one of Maine’s most iconic sites.

Mount Katahdin is a severely underestimated mountain resulting in many injuries and even death. No matter what route you take to the summit, you are looking at 4,000 feet of elevation gain and a full day hike (most people spend between 8 to 12 hours on the mountain).

The park is open from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm. Unless you have a campsite reservation inside the park, you are unable to access trailheads until the gate opens at 6:00 am.

Camping in Baxter State Park

One of the easier ways to guarantee a chance to climb Mount Katahdin is by camping out in the park the night before. Most campgrounds are open from May 15 to October 15. Except for Chimney Pond which opens on June 1, Nesowadnehunk which opens on the Friday prior to Memorial Day, Loon-Dependent Wass Lake Island opens on August 15, and Cabin 12 at Chimeny Pond opens on August 1. Kidney, Daicey, and Katahdin Stream are open until October 22. 

The best campgrounds for hiking Mount Katahdin are Katahdin Stream, Abol, Roaring Brook, and Chimeny Pond. 

Katahdin Stream Campground

Katahdin Stream campground is a popular family campground and provides access to Mount Katahdin from the Appalachian Trail (Hunt Trail) as well as access to a variety of streams and ponds in the park. 

Abol Campground

Abol Campground is the closest campground to Togue Pond Gate and is located at the base of Abol Slide

Roaring Brook Campground

Roaring Brook is the most popular campground in the park, so if you’re planning to make reservations get on as soon as they open. Roaring Brook Campground is situated at the base of Chimney Pond trail and Helon Taylor Trail.

Chimney Pond Campground

Chimney Pond is a backcountry campground in Baxter and is a great starting point for hiking Mount Katahdin. The cut-off time for hiking to Chimney Pond campground is 5:00 pm and is 3.3 miles from the trailhead.

You must check in at the gate no later than 8:30 pm on your first night of camping. 

How to Reserve a Campsite in Baxter State Park

Campgrounds near Baxter State Park

Parking Reservations in Baxter State Park

Mount Katahdin Hiking Trails

Overview of Mount Katahdin Trails

  • Abol
  • Hunt
  • Helon Taylor
  • Dudley
  • Cathedral
  • Saddle 
  • Knife’s Edge
  • Hamlin Ridge
  • Chimney Pond

Abol

Length: 3.4 miles one way (plus one mile on Hunt trail)

Elevation Gain: 3,982 feet

Trailhead Parking lot: Abol Campground

Abol trail is the shortest route to Baxter Peak from the trailhead. Once you reach Tableland you will connect with the Hunt trail for the last mile. 

Hunt Trail

Length: 5.2 miles one way

Elevation Gain: 4,188 feet

Trailhead Parking Lot: Katahdin Stream Campground

Hunt trail is one of the most popular trails to Mount Katahdin summit. 2.4 miles of the trail is above the treeline, making for some of the best views of the landscape.

Helon Taylor

Length: 3.2 miles one way

Elevation Gain to Pamola Peak: 3,412

Trailhead Parking Lot: Roaring Brook Campground

This trail connects from Roaring Broom Campground to Knife Edge Trail at Pamola Peak. This trail is very exposed and is considered one of the most picturesque trails in the park.

Dudley

Length: 1.3 miles one way to Pamola Peak

Elevation Gain: 1,988 feet

Trailhead Parking Lot: Roaring Brook Campground

This trail leaves from Chimney Pond and is a very short and steep climb to Pamola Peak. The trail is almost completely above the treeline and consists of climbing over large boulders. 

Cathedral

Length: 1.5 miles one way (1.7 to Baxter Peak)

Elevation Gain: 2,353 feet

Trailhead Parking Lot: Roaring Brook Campground

This trail is the shortest hike from Chimney Pond to Baxter Peak and is considered, by park rangers, to be the most difficult route to the summit. To reach the peak you have to connect with Saddle trail for an additional .2 miles. 

Saddle

Length: 2.2 miles one way

Elevation Gain: 2,353 feet

Trailhead Parking Lot: Roaring Brook Campground

This trail is the most gradual ascent and starts from the Chimney Pond campground. This is a great option for descent from Katahdin. 

Knife Edge

Length: 1.1 miles one way 

Elevation Gain: 365 feet

Trailhead Parking Lot: Roaring Brook Campground

This route is extremely exposed and has been proven to be extremely dangerous. It is highly recommended to not do this trail during high winds or inclement weather. It takes approximately 1-1.5 hours one way to cross Knife Edge. 

Knife's edge on Mount Katahdin best trails

Hamlin Ridge

Length: 1.5 miles one way

Elevation Gain: 1,837 feet

Trailhead Parking Lot: Roaring Brook Campground

This trail starts at the North Basin Trail which is 0.7 miles from Chimney Pond and ascends a ridge to Hamlin Peak. 

Chimney Pond

Length: 3.3 miles one way

Elevation Gain: 1,425 feet

Trailhead Parking Lot: Roaring Brook Campground

This trail takes you directly to Chimney Pond Campground and connects to a variety of trails to Katahdin. 

Personal Trail Recommendations for Mount Katahdin 

If you’re looking to hike Knife’s Edge, here is my personal recommendation for the best route to take to the summit. 

Start by parking at Roaring Brook Campground and hike Chimney Pond Trail or Helon Taylor. If you take the Chimeny Pond trail, once there, take Dudley to Pamola Peak. Once you reach Pamola peak you can access the summit by taking Knife’s edge. Once you summit, take Saddle Trail down until you reach Chimney Pond and take Chimeny Pond trail back to the parking lot!  

Baxter State Park Rules

  • Camping is permitted by reservation only
  • All people entering the park by road or trail must sign in at the first opportunity at a gate-house or self-registration area
  • The maximum size of a hiking group can not exceed 12
  • Hunting and trapping are prohibited within the park
  • Pets are not allowed in the park
  • No person may feed, bait, or disturb any animal within the park
  • Fires or other cooking or heating devices are only permitted in designated campsites or picnic areas
  • No person can leave a fire without totally extinguishing it
  • All trash, litter, camping gear, and materials carried into the park must be carried out
  • Where toilets are not available, human waste must be disposed of at least 200 feet from water or trail, below treeline human waste must be buried or carried out. Above treeline, human waste must be carried out or left on the surface of the soil or solid rock
  • No person may create a disturbance that impairs the enjoyment of the Park by others.
  • Chainsaws, generators, and other power equipment may not be operated within the Park.
  • Collection or removal of any cultural object from the Park is prohibited. No person may deface, paint, damage, mutilate, or vandalize any cultural object or any structure or sign within the Park.
  • The removal from, or introduction of, natural objects, materials, plants or animals to the Park is prohibited, with the exception that fish and other wildlife may be collected for personal use in authorized areas of the Park
  • Research studies and Commercial Media projects within the Park require a special use permit issued by the Director.
  • No vehicle over nine (9) feet high, seven (7) feet wide, or 22 feet long for a single vehicle or 44 feet long for combined units may enter the Park.
  • All groups of five (5) or more persons under 16 years of age must be accompanied by at least one (1) person, of at least 18 years of age, responsible for the supervision of a maximum of five (5) youths.
  • A person who violates any of the rules of the Baxter State Park Authority or a condition of a permit issued under those rules commits a civil violation for which a fine of not more than $1,000 may be adjudged.
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