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Thread: Baxter Park itinerary help

  1. #1
    Junior Member Faline's Avatar
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    Baxter Park itinerary help

    Night one: Katahdin Stream lean-to
    Night two: Russell Pond lean-to
    Night three: Chimney Pond bunk
    Day four: back to Katahdin Stream car park

    reasonable?

    We're ADK 46ers, and have backpacked (with tent) the Pemigewasset. This time we don't need a tent so lighter packs. We've never been to Baxter.
    ADK: 46er
    Whites: 39/48
    Maine: 9/14
    Vermont: 5/5
    NE: 101/115

  2. #2
    Senior Member MikePS's Avatar
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    Katahdin Stream to Russell with multi day packs seems awfully long haul over tough terrain IMHO, I have done these trails separately never in one trip, maybe others have better experience, but I think it would be a very difficult day, can you make a stop at Davis, this is a gem of a spot. Good luck and have fun!

  3. #3
    Member Kyle D's Avatar
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    Reasonable, yes. Rather grueling day carrying overnight weight up Hunt trail and down North Peaks Trail to Russell. Russell Pond is magical in the evening for a canoe paddle. Can almost count on moose, beavers, eagles, trout surfacing... I've preferred to do the loop starting from Roaring Brook and do the first night at Chimney Pond and then up and over into the Northwest Basin or Russell Pond area. Wassataquoik Stream Lean to #1 is my favorite spot in the park and could be an alternative to Russell Pond. All depends on the mileage you are seeking. The center of the park is quiet and as wild of a place as you will find in the northeast. Wassataquoik Lake is also a wonderful remote lean to spot. Can't go wrong. Enjoy!!

  4. #4
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    For a typical weekend warrior in marginal condition yes, I dont know your level of conditioning so its always a guess. You have three tough days in row that are weather dependent without a lot of good options to bypass the summits. It could be spectacular as you are hitting some of he premier back packing trails in the park.

    Day 2 (KSC to Russel) is a very long one even if you skip the summit via the cut off trail We went from Davis Pond to KSC and ate up most of the day (but we took our time and the baxter peak cut off) Hauling a backpack up and over the boulders on the Hunt Trail can slow you down. The Northwests Basin trail is quite wet earlier in the season. Best done in late August/Early September. Day 3 is potentially spectacular but there is major crossing of Wassataquoik stream which has no bypass. Its down low on Northern Peaks trail not that far from where its splits off from the Northwest basin trail. We had to wade across it over our knees on Labor day weekend during a dry summer. Hard to beat the Howe Peaks, Hamlin and hiking down Hamlin Ridge trail. Its rarely traveled, you may not see anyone until Hamlin probably one of the most remote above treeline stretches in the Northeast

    Keep in mind for that on day four that the Dudley Trail is closed so there is no good option to do the Knife Edge unless you hike back down to Roaring Brook to catch the Helon Taylor trail. If you really want to do it your best option is Cathedral trail up to the summit and then do an out and back along the Knife Edge to Pamola.

    Its a very aggressive schedule for most folks with one long day followed by two tough days. You are very dependent on good weather. Treeline is lower than in the whites or the ADK and the summit plateau is longer. All three days require 3 to 4 hours of full exposure with little or no cover. The mountain tends to attract afternoon storms but your itinerary means you may be up there in the early afternoon. Best option is adopt an early wakeup every morning to get up above treeline early. During the summer there can be persistent high pressure systems that hang around for a week at a time but sometimes the weather is in 3 1/2 day pattern with rain on the third day. If the weather goes bad you may have to head down to a road to avoid the summits and hitch a ride back to KSC. Hitching usually isnt a major issue as there are a lot of campers and day hikers heading where you need to go.

    Some minor planning items

    KSC is a pretty densely spaced campground (for BSP) unless you are on the south side of the stream you will have neighbors. The park has quiet hours but with lots of families it can be bit noisy at times. The critters are very agressive, keep all food in the trunk. Russell Pond and Chimney Pond have a unusual bear line design, bring a good bag for hanging food.

    The water source to Russell Pond is the pond and it has a decided boggy taste. I expect a filter is preferable to chemical treatment and suggest some flavoring.

    If you hit a good stretch of weather this is going to trip to remember, there is nothing like it in the whites or the ADKs. Once you get away from the day hikers and head north of the summit you will see few folks.

    Car navigation systems really do not like the park and will attempt to have you drive over old logging roads that are now trails or havent been roads for 50 years. Some dont recognize the Togue Pond gatehouse and route you to the Park Headquarters in Millinocket. Bring a map. There are several good hiking trail maps of the park. Some are out of date. The headquarters has variety and there is also a welcome center just before the gatehouse that is normally open and sell the same maps.

    A general observation is folks heading to Baxter tend to under estimate how long it takes to get there. Its a long drive from anywhere and once you are in Millinocket your trip is not over. The trip to park gate can take 45 minutes and the drive from the Togue Pond gatehouse to KSC can take another 45 minutes. There is small well stocked grocery store in Millinocket and plenty of spots to buy ice, one you leave ton and go under the railroad bridge there is only one more camp store that runs on a generator and you pay for the convenience.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 05-17-2019 at 05:23 PM.

  5. #5
    Junior Member Faline's Avatar
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    Thanks so much for all the great insight. This is so helpful!

    What do you mean by "Russell Pond and Chimney Pond have a unusual bear line design, bring a good bag for hanging food" I don't know what bear line design is. We're staying in one of the bunks at Chimney - are we allowed to keep our food inside? In which case it would only be Russell we'll need to hang.

    For day two, we recognize it's long and want to save Katahdin peak for the last day. So we'll bypass the peak that day. I'll have to look at a map to see about how to get over Katahdin from CP on the last day - is Knife Ridge the route most people take?

    thanks again
    ADK: 46er
    Whites: 39/48
    Maine: 9/14
    Vermont: 5/5
    NE: 101/115

  6. #6
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    Here is image I found by google search https://www.google.com/search?q=chim...2ZUiQQCXUCTrM:

    The hooks are permanently attached to the line. There is a long pole with a hook on the end that is used to hang a bag of food on the hooks on the cable. The trick is when you hang the bag you want to tie two fixed loops one for lifting the bag and one to hook on the line. If you try to do it with one loop, the weight of the bag pulls the loop shut and its difficult to get it on the hook on the line. The other mistake is using a sliding loop that tightens up when you put weight on it as then you cant get the bag off the line. I am unsure of the food rules in the new deluxe Chimney Pond cabin as I havent stayed there. The other challenge is if you have several days of food its hard to keep the end of the pole with the heavy bag from moving around.

    With the Dudley trail closed for the year, the logical route from CP to the summit is either Saddle (if its open) or Cathedral. Cathedral is definitely the best of the two but it is steep and requires occasion use of your hands. Saddle is usually a bad weather route. There is no good way to include the Knife Edge in your itinerary as your car is parked on the opposite side of the mountain as KSC. Your options are hike over the Knife Edge and down Helon Taylor trail to Roaring Brook and hitcha ride back to KSC (it usually requires two hitches, one to Togue Pond gate and one from the gate to KSC). Its not usually a hard hitch as all the Roaring Brook traffic is going to Togue Pond Gate as its dead end and there is lot of traffic going from the gate to Togue Pond. The alternative is many folks just do an out and back to Pamola via the knife edge and then take the Hunt trail down to KSC from the summit. There is only one potentially difficult place for people wearing backpacks which is the final 50 feet dropping into the Chimney. If its good day it adds about 1 to 2 hours to the hike.

  7. #7
    Senior Member MikePS's Avatar
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    I usually cheat and use a carbiner on my food bag makes it easier to get it on/off the hook.

  8. #8
    Junior Member Faline's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info.

    The sites are already booked, but I've chickened out of doing the loop. We could probably do it but I'd rather not risk being totally exhausted and not enjoying it. Instead we'll drive from our first campsite at Katahdin Stream to Roaring Brook TH and hike to Russell Pond from there. Since it will be an easier day we can explore the trails around the area.
    Anything in particular we should check out with a half day in the area after we arrive?

    Then we'll hike back to RB and to Chimney Pond for the night. The next day we can hike up Hamlin and Katahdin and back down to RB where our car would be.

    Anything I should know before settling on this revised itinerary?

    I appreciate the help!

    Btw, I became a 48er yesterday on Osceola
    ADK: 46er
    Whites: 39/48
    Maine: 9/14
    Vermont: 5/5
    NE: 101/115

  9. #9
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    Congratulations on the 48.

    There are two trails to Russel Pond from roaring brook. Russel Pond trail skips a major water crossing and Wassataquoik Stream Trail has a major water crossing dependent on recent weather, if you plan to use that one check with the ranger before heading out. it can be waist deep or possibly impassable after heavy rain and there are no options to avoid it except backtracking to Russel Pond Trail and taking it back to roaring brook. The crossing is a nice place with gravel bed on a turn in the stream but it can be deeper than some people feel comfortable with. Wassataquoik Lake is not that far away from Russel Pond and worth the extra distance. Its far more impressive than Russel Pond. There are canoes you can rent for a paddle. Alternatively if the Wassataquoik crossing is not expected to be an issue you can take Russel Pond Trail over to Russell Pond and take a side trip via Grand Falls Trail which connects back up with Wassataquoik Stream Trail at the potentially deep crossing(I haven't done the Grand Falls trail but it come highly recommended).

    Depending on time and motivation South Turner is a short hike with a great view of the east side of Mt Katahdin. Some folks head up there very early before sunrise to catch the sunrise and to see the east wall of the ravines light up with morning light. Its very impressive if you get the right conditions. If you are an early bird you could combine it with hike over to Russell.

  10. #10
    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Congratulations on the 48.
    From Russell Pond there is a nice 5 mile RT trail to Wassataquoik Lake. This beautiful lake is in a very remote setting and has steep cliff faces that drop into the deep clear water. There is also a leanto on an island and canoes available for a paddle.

    Highly recommended place to visit in the Park!
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  11. #11
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    The other "standard" half-day recommendation is to visit Daicey/Kidney Ponds and Big/Little Niagra Falls.

    Tim
    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

  12. #12
    Junior Member Faline's Avatar
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    Thanks again, everyone. We’re on our way and have noted the suggestions.
    One more question: is Russell Pond swimmable? What about the other? Wondering if we should pack bathing suits.
    ADK: 46er
    Whites: 39/48
    Maine: 9/14
    Vermont: 5/5
    NE: 101/115

  13. #13
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    People swim in all the ponds but leeches are present in many ponds unless there is a very gravely bottom. I don't remember a gravely bottom in Russel Pond. I expect Wasataquoik Lake may have better swimming potential as there are active slides dumping into it. Many people use the swimming area prior to the park gate at Togue Pond or Abol Beach (located on Abol pond heading not at the Abol campsite) for swimming. There are also some great swimming holes and some natural water slides along the road a few miles north of Katahdin stream. I am not aware of any great swimming holes in the Roaring Brook area or along the road going to it.

    Leaches are generally not an issue in running water so swimming holes in streams tend to be better. The water crossing on the trail to Russel Pond seems to get a few swimmers on occasion. Many of the ponds at BSP are mid to late successional, they are in the process of turning from ponds to swamps.

  14. #14
    Senior Member MikePS's Avatar
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    no swimming allowed at Chimney, some swim in the basin ponds on CP Trail. I also rec the Lake, a special spot, great swimming. Pretty good swimming hole on roaring brook if you follow the stream about a 1/2 mile down from from leanto 10 Have a great trip.

  15. #15
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    FWIW, I was told there were leeches in Trout Brook (Farm Campgrounds/streams) last summer. I did swim in South Branch Pond and did not see any. Wrong end of the park, I know. I have been swimming in Togue Pond every summer trip I've taken.

    Tim
    Last edited by bikehikeskifish; 08-02-2019 at 04:33 PM.
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