View Full Version : river crossings in Baxter State Park

Jim W
01-13-2004, 04:51 PM
Just mailed in our wish lists for 2004 trips to Baxter State Park.
In September, we'll be heading to Russell Pond for the first time. The AMC Maine Guide describes two crossings of Wassataquoik Stream that have no bridge and no rocks to hop on. One is on the North (Howe) Peaks Trail, the other is on The Russell Pond Trail.
What should we expect? Put on a pair of sandles and walk through? Wade through with packs held overhead? Or can we bushwack a bit to find a suitable crossing? Or does the book exagerate the difficulty?
Willette Brothers

01-13-2004, 04:59 PM
Haven't been on those trails but the latest edition of Clark's Guide to Baxter Park might be quite useful in your visit there. Good luck getting your wishes ... if you offerred flexibility on dates you stand a better chance of getting your destinations.

01-13-2004, 08:15 PM
It been quite a few years but I do not remember any significant crossings on the Russel Pond trail. I more recently do remember a significant crossing on the Wassatquoik Stream trail in front of the lean tos. It can be waist deep and darn cold. With the exception of the water crossing, this route is usually a faster route for me than the Russel Pond trail as its is almost entirely an old logging road. The crossing of Turner brook just out side of Russel requires good balance as you are walking along the top of a very old loggin dam in very deteriorated condition.

BTW, as of three years ago the North peaks trail was officially closed north of the last Howe peak. I talked to a couple of rangers at the time and they indicated that it had significant continuous blowdowns in the abandoned stretch. They said it was okay to hike it but plan on a long day of climbing over trees. (I met someone later who confirmed the condition of the trail, he said it was lamost impossible with a backpack.

01-13-2004, 08:59 PM
I have done the hike into Russell Pond MANY times -- the crossings are usually not too bad in the summer. The crossing on the Wassataquoik Trail is the better of the two -- usually only calf to knee high, and the stream is pretty calm here, and the bottom is mostly sandy with small rocks -- it is right in front of the Stream Lean-tos. On the Russell Pond Trail, again, it is not a bad crossing, more rocky, but not bad. I have never found a way to rock hop across at either of these crossings, even in a dry August. A pair of sandals will do you fine for your crossing, at either place. Only after a big storm can it get dicey, and if it is too much, the Park won't let you go to Russell Pond, but that only happens after a hurricane or sometimes in the early spring, when the snow is still melting and a big rain comes through. Either trail is a nice trip in -- Wass. Stream trail is flat, follows the stream. Russell Pd. trail has some hills, is less traveled.

You have picked a great trip -- Russell Pond is one of the best parts of the park. Pure heaven, lots of moose, quiet, not as crowded as Katahdin. Bring your fising pole if you like to fish!



01-14-2004, 02:02 AM
I was at Russell Pond in September, 1993, with a couple other guys, and three thunderstorms went by in the morning. We deemed it safer to return to Roaring Brook rather than head on to Davis Pond.

The double crossing that is right out near Russell Pond (Turner Brook, I guess, judging by peakbagger's decription) had boards across the water. The water had risen above the level of the planks. I kept on my boots, and it wasn't too bad getting across. In the next stretch of trail, a large tree had blown down across the trail, and it was a surprisingly difficult chore getting around it. At the Wassataquoik crossing, the water was so high that the rocks we had used the day before to rock hop across were all under water. We removed our boots and waded across, the water up on our thighs, as I recall. There were two couples with a three-month old infant right behind us, so we used a rope I had in my pack to assist them in getting across with the baby. While we were relaxing on the Roaring Brook side, after everyone had made it across, a fellow came along and he walked across with sandals.

For a multi-day trip, you have to expect the worst, or at least the unexpected.

Even on a day trip, you can encounter a difficult place, as Susan and I did, that wasn't worthy of mentioning in either of my guidebooks. When we did Hamlin Peak last fall, it was a long and difficult stretch for me to get from the Chimney Pond trail onto Hamlin Ridge Trail. You have to cross a stream, and while it doesn't look particularly bad, it's just far enough, and there's nothing to really jump into, that it's hard. I made it, but Susan took off her shoes and waded through, rather than risk losing her balance. There's another real wet spot higher up on Chimney Pond Trail, in which the trail cuts obliquely across a wide part of the stream (Roaring Brook, I suppose).

Jim W
01-14-2004, 08:52 AM
Originally posted by peakbagger
"BTW, as of three years ago the North peaks trail was officially closed north of the last Howe peak."

Does anyone know if it is still closed?
Our plan was to camp at Chimney Pond on Friday. Then summit Hamlin Peak on Saturday and use the Howe (North) Peaks Trail to hike to Russell Pond for Saturday night.
Looks like we might have to hike the Northwest Basin Trail instead.

01-14-2004, 09:00 AM
I've hiked all these trails and I'll second what others have said about stream crossings to Russell pond. I put sandals on and wade. Once, the crossing in front of Wassataquoik lean-tos was up to my mid-thigh and even that wasn't bad. I've crossed this with kids before and they do fine. I like this particular crossing in hot weather because it's a nice place to swim a bit with very few leaches.

The crossing on the Russell Pond trail was difficult after some heavy rain, but doable alone with a full pack. A woman was hiking behind us with children and some of us waited to help the kids and their packs across. It would have been tough for kids. Under normal water, the crossing is not a big deal.

As for the North Peaks trail, it is, sadly, closed. I hiked it in the mid 90's and loved it. The crossings were very dicey as there had been several inches of rain a couple days prior. I could not cross the streams without help. I think in less rainy conditions it would have been okay.


01-14-2004, 09:08 AM
The North Peaks trail is no longer maintained below treeline and is classified as a difficult bushwack.

I visit Russell Pond once or twice every summer. Crossing the Wassatoquoik via the Tracy Horse Trail (now called the Wassataquoik Stream trail) is about knee deep - sometimes a little higher or lower, no rock hopping where the trail crosses. I met some fisherman once who said they rock hopped further down by the last lean-to at the stream. They were staying at the lean-to though - I wouldn't do it if I wasn't staying there.
The Russell Pond trail now has half log bridges where the old bridge used to be. I like the Tracy trail because it's more scenic.

If the water levels are too high, you can reach Russell Pond via the northern entrance and the Pogy Notch trail.

Enjoy - Russell Pond is a great place! :D

David Metsky
01-14-2004, 09:35 AM
Here is a shot of the stream crossing (http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/whites/baxter/e09.jpg) on the Wassataquiok Stream trail. I believe it is similar to the one on the Russell Pond trail. It's pretty simple to just put on Tevas and wander across.

Here's a trip report (http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/whites/baxter/index.html) from Baxter with a few days spent at Russell Pond.


01-14-2004, 09:17 PM
From Dave M

Here is a shot of the stream crossing on the Wassataquiok Stream trail. I believe it is similar to the one on the Russell Pond trail. It's pretty simple to just put on Tevas and wander across.

Just another reason why I love this site.
Great detailed responses and very prompt ... way to go everyone.

01-14-2004, 09:20 PM
Jim W:

Yes, it is true re: what others are saying re: the North Peaks Trail. Be sure to register your complaint re: its closure -- it was purely political, due to wanting to keep IAT hikers off of it. Shame, it is a gorgeous trail. You will have to take the Northwest Basin trail -- it is longer, but it is a GORGEOUS trip. Just plan for a long day.


01-14-2004, 10:00 PM
I think the crossing on the Russell Pond trail is very different from the one on the Tracy trail - deeper and rockier with more boulders, that's why there was a bridge there before. Although perhaps it's just my perception of the crossings the various times I've done them in. I never did the Russell Pond trail when the bridge was there, but I was glad when the half log bridges went up.

As far as the closure of the North Peaks trail, It's my understanding that after Baxter Park expressed no interest in having the IAT continue from Baxter Peak, it was suggested in the IAT website that the North Peaks trail be used anyway.