View Full Version : Dayhiking in Baxter State Park

04-26-2004, 12:03 PM
I am going to be in northern Maine (with the family) in July and hope to do a day hike in Baxter State Park. I am unsure of the logistics of entering / exiting the park. I have a strong feeling that it is not as easy as driving to Pinkham and hiking Mt Washington. Are there any special park rules? Any helpful info would be appreciated. I may be hiking solo - let me know if that is an issue also.

poison ivy
04-26-2004, 12:21 PM
You'll need to get up very early in order to get into the park for a dayhike. When we went to hike Katahdin in June 2001, we were waiting in a line of cars by 4 a.m. to get into the park when the gates open (I think at 5.) They were only letting 35 cars in that day, so you need to be at the gate early.

Another option would be to hike into the park via the AT -- the trail from Abol Bridge is just gorgeous-- fairly easy, with two waterfalls and tons of beautiful views. It was not a problem to have someone drive into the park in the afternoon just to pick us up at the end of the hike. When a friend & I hiked in from Abol Bridge, my husband just told the gate attendants that he was arriving to pick up AT hikers and they allowed him to drive into Katahdin Stream Campground to get us.

- Ivy

04-26-2004, 12:29 PM
Second what poison ivy said...Get there early! Real early.

More info here:

The regulations seem strict before you arrive, but are well worth it, once you're inside the park.

David Metsky
04-26-2004, 01:02 PM
If you can swing it, try for a weekday, not a weekend. That'll make access much easier.

Another thing is that most of the cars want to go to Chimney Pond. You can get to the other trailheads much easier and there are lots of other interesting hikes in the park besides Baxter Peak.

One last thing, don't expect to drive quickly inside the park. Speeds are roughly 10MPH, enforced by lousy roads. This can mean a much longer drive to some trailheads on the Tote road.


04-26-2004, 01:14 PM
If you are strategic about when you go, you don't need to miss breakfast to get in. I live a short distance away and will often head up on a whim midweek. I've gotten in as late as 10am. Even on some weekend, you'll get in relatively late.

as mentioned, the Roaring Brook lot fills first, so be flexible with route choices in case you have to head to Abol or even another peak altogether.


Dave, do you have any pics from this weekend? Sounds like I missed a grand old time...


04-26-2004, 01:17 PM
Unfortunately I will be about 3+ hours away, but I do have the option of getting there on a weekday. The other unfortunate is that it will be around 4th of July weekend. This may not work out but I certainly will give it a shot. Thanks all

04-26-2004, 02:29 PM
If you are 3 hours away and are headed toward Baxter - consider the Coe-Brothers Loop. You get North Brother, a 4,000 footer and take in some of the most beautiful scenery of Baxter park including great views of the west side of katahdin. It usually is not near as crowded as Katahdin & a fantastic hike.

04-27-2004, 12:47 AM
Also, there's an eight- or ten-dollar charge if your car's license plates aren't from Maine.

If memory serves, it's about a 20-minute drive to Roaring Brook from the Togue Pond gatehouse and even longer to get to Abol or beyond. Maybe 45 minutes to get to the Marston trailhead? You'd think I'd remember...

04-27-2004, 06:30 AM
Is it possible to hike North Brother without entering through the main entrance of the park?

04-27-2004, 07:39 AM
Originally posted by Jasonst
Is it possible to hike North Brother without entering through the main entrance of the park?

Yes, but not in a single day. You could backpack in via the AT, but then you would need reservations for overnighting in the Park. The Marston lot is rarely full, so you should be able to get in at a later time than for Roaring Brook lot. It is a beautiful, and strenuous hike. Although not that long in distance, there are 3 NE100 summits in the loop (4 if you opt to do Fort). If you aspire to climb the NE100, definitely do the bushwhack to Fort, but do your homework first. It's a relatively easy bushwhack if you get the route right - a bear if you don't. When we did the loop of all 4 last, I believe it took us about 11 hours.

As others have said, be flexible, and you can get in. If you can't get in early enough to climb Katahdin, you probably were not there early enough anyway - it is a fairly long dayhike. One last thing: I've been to BSP 3 times during the July 4th week. I always mailed my reservations on Christmas Day, and never got what I was looking for (but did get something). I've been luckier at other times, but this is the busiest week of the year.

One last one: Doubletop. Best views of Katahdin I've ever seen. That hike will take under 7 hours, at a leisurely pace.

04-27-2004, 07:48 AM
I am guessing since there are all of these restrictions, that there is no Sherman Adams building atop Katahdin? :D No Chili or hotdogs?

David Metsky
04-27-2004, 08:15 AM
And some days, if the weather is real bad, they close the mountain to hiking.


04-27-2004, 09:16 AM
I propose, you could hike the Brothers loop in one day without entering the park. I haven't done it, but I think you could if you were ambitious.

you can get close to the tote road via Williams Pond Rd off the Telos Rd. That will bring you to Nesowdnehunk campground. Hoof it down to the Marston Trailhead.

I've skied that route several times (from Telos b/c Williams Pond Rd. isn't usually plowed in winter) but I've never driven to the park gate by Nesowdnehunk.

As others have said, the Marston lot does not fill up early, if at all, so you should be fine to go there most any time.


04-27-2004, 09:33 AM
How far is it from Marston TH to any route up Baxter? Is that do able in a day?

04-27-2004, 09:54 AM
You would only want to park at the Marston trailhead if you were doing the brothers.

Other parking lots you could use are:

Katahdin Stream - Hunt Trail - holds 25 cars
Abol - Abol Trail - 18 cars
Roaring Brook - Chimney Pond Trail - 48 cars

the next closest would be to park at Kidney Pond or Daicey Pond and walk to the Katahdin Stream Trailhead. but that would add a few miles.

I really think it won't come to that. You shouldn't have trouble getting to one of the main three if you are there any time other than a major holiday weekend.


04-27-2004, 10:00 AM

Is Memorial Day weekend too early to be busy in Baxter?
I called to check on campgrounds for that weekend and they
seemed to have lot of availability all over the park.


04-27-2004, 10:16 AM
I suspect you wouldn't have any problems on Memorial Day. I haven't been in the park on that weekend, but it is before most schools get out, so the real vacation rush hasn't yet begun.

Are you coming up this way, Blue?

give me a holler...


04-27-2004, 10:55 AM
I'd suggest you check on trail conditions and whether they're open. One year the Marston Trail was closed into late June because of the snow that remained.

04-27-2004, 11:02 AM
Spencer - that's my problem - I will be there around the weekend of the 4th of July. Perhaps I will try for Thursday the 1st. I will shoot for Chimney pond and go from there. Thanks all for your input


Mad Townie
04-27-2004, 11:04 AM
Blue, I was once shut out of a Russell Pond reservation on Memorial Day weekend because of snow on the trail and too-high water at the ford of the stream.

On the other hand, I climbed the Abol Slide one Memorial Day when the temperature was about 80. Nice frying pan effect! :eek:

04-27-2004, 02:59 PM
From Stephen Clark's "Katahdin," 3rd edition:

Mileage from Togue Pond Gate to Abol Campground: 5.8 miles

From Abol Campground to Katahdin Stream Campground: 2.4 miles

From Katahdin Stream Campground to Marston Trail head: 5.8 miles

Looking at my notes from last fall, I see that I wrote that it took us an hour to reach the Marston Trail head, but I don't know now if I meant an hour from our motel in Millinocket (doesn't seem like enough time isn't it about 22 miles just to get to Togue Pond from Millinocket?) or the gatehouse (likely for a 14-mile trip on that road I know it's about 20 minutes to traverse the eight miles up to Roaring Brook Campground, and that spur road is probably in better shape than the Perimeter Road). We got up that morning at 5:20 and began the hike at 7:55 a.m. We had a continental breakfast at the motel before departing, but that didn't take 90 minutes.

04-27-2004, 03:19 PM
The first time I visited Baxter State Park was May 17-22, 1992. I did have a reservation, at Roaring Brook Campground, but it wasn't actually full. The black flies were at the gatehouse when I arrived, and two days later they were at the campground.

I departed on Friday morning, the beginning of Memorial Day weekend, and was passed by at least four vehicles (some hauling boats, I think) before I'd gotten very far out of the parking lot. I felt as though I was leaving just in time.

I remember that on that trip I brought along a thermometer. The first few days of my stay the morning temperature was 30 degrees Fahrenheit; Friday morning I woke up and it was 70 degrees. The drive back to Massachusetts in my car was so hot that the thermometer was pegged at 100 degrees all the way.

I stayed at Roaring Brook a few days with my son in May 1997 and we got a lean-to without having a reservation. We've done the same thing in October, too (but not Columbus Day Weekend).

04-27-2004, 05:42 PM
Originally posted by Jasonst
Is it possible to hike North Brother without entering through the main entrance of the park?
You can go in the NE entrance, but it is a longer drive to Marston Trail.

If this is a family adventure and not list-bagging (or if you like peculiar lists) you could hike Traveller or Doubletop (see AMC guide). The S trailhead to Doubletop used to be a gravel pit with no rangers to enforce capacity.

Papa Bear
04-27-2004, 06:16 PM
Originally posted by RoySwkr
(or if you like peculiar lists) you could hike Traveller or Doubletop.
Hey, I resemble that! ;) Those are on my list.

Peculiar Bear

04-27-2004, 07:53 PM
Originally posted by RoySwkr

...The S trailhead to Doubletop used to be a gravel pit with no rangers to enforce capacity.

You can still start there, and it is now called the Slaughter Pond Trail. There is an awesome view of Doubletop Mountain (http://home.comcast.net/~sherpak/wsb/html/view.cgi-photo.html--SiteID-546217.html) where the trail takes an abrubt left hand turn. Be forewarned though, it is one steep climb up the western side (left on the picture), and would not be a good choice for very young children (although some would find it a hoot!)