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Thread: Baxter State Park From The North Gate

  1. #1
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Baxter State Park From The North Gate

    For some unexplainable reason my wife really enjoyed her first trip to Baxter a few weeks ago (she is not a hiker and is a magnet for all types of biting insects). On the drive home we talked about some other spots in Baxter and while the momentum is hot I'm hoping to set up a mid-AUG trip back to check out the North part of park. The Traveller's Loop has been on my radar since it was mentioned in my original Katahdin thread several years ago so I figured that would be the goal.

    Having said that, I know nothing about the North gate or any part of that area. So I had a few general questions to get the planning going:
    1) Are any of the tent sites on actual ponds or lakes? Many look close but I'm talking literally on the water. And if not, do any of them have a common area on water, a beach, etc? The Baxter campground "maps" are not really helpful for this purpose. Would be a nice perk for my wife if common area was more attractive. Roaring Brook is definitely a boring spot unless you get out and hit some of the trails. I liked Nesowadnehunk for that. Was a much nicer common area.
    2) Related to #1, if I don't stay at South Branch Pond would the ride to any of these other sites be prohibitive time wise. It doesn't look bad on map but with the road width and condition....
    3) Are the bugs better/same/worse in the North part of the park with all the lakes and ponds? I'd hope the edge would be off by mid AUG but they were nasty last week.
    4) Are the local roads to North Gate any more or less difficult to follow, in poor condition, etc? Google Maps has drive from East Millinocket to Matagamon gate as 1h 31m despite only being 59 miles. Gas stations, stores, fast food chains, etc? Doesn't look like much going on out there.
    5) Any "must see" spots in that end of park?

    Any general suggestions/info to steer me in the right direction would be greatly appreciated.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 46/48; NY 46: 6/46

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    Senior Member MikePS's Avatar
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    South Branch has 7 lean tos on the water. If you snag a tent site there are open spots on the "beach" - a wonderful rocky waters edge- that all campers can access, some day use picnic tables, a small dock etc.. It has been quite a few years since I came in the North gate- I usually drive up through the park and hike a central mt, usually Doubletop on my way to South Branch. I remember picking up supplies at a small grocery store not much else up there. Lots of camps on the big Lake with many float planes. South Branch falls is a great swimming area- short walk .5 mile off of the road to the campground. BTW Kayaks and canoes available to rent on the double ponds, very pretty. Roads/bugs/facilities about the same. Traveller loop is fantastic, several other shorter hikes & walks in the area. So Branch seems to be a strong Maine family campground.

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    South Branch is the place but others know about it so plan to be flexible if you want waterfront. The leantos on the pond are kind of close . There is one that is remote from the others and you have to carry stuff to it.

    Despite what you it looks like you do not save anytime driving through the park. There are no views to speak of past Nesowadnehunk Field. The drive up through Patten starts out in rolling farmland with some great views looking west at BSP. The roads are in good shape. Once you go through Patten it transitions to woods. There are Menonites in the area and there are warning signs for horse and buggies. I dont remember any stores west of Patten. There is no fast food once you go past Millinocket or any Dunkin Donuts. There is a Irving station at the Sherman exit. The national monument reportedly has improved signage so you can drive up through the monument instead of through Patten. The area had deer and moose so be carefull driving around dawn or dusk.

    Note if you want waterfront for spouse that doesnt like to rough it, its hard to beat Kidney or Daicey Pond Cabins, they have screens and beds but are too far away from South Branch to do the loop unless you want a really long day.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 07-12-2019 at 05:46 PM.

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    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    I believe South Branch Pond is your best bet. It's absolutely beautiful and the Traveler is stunning. TONS of blueberries, in-season.

    View from Lean-To #2

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    Tim
    Last edited by bikehikeskifish; 07-12-2019 at 07:09 PM.
    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

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    BTW, there are quite a few other sites on ponds and Matagamon lake that are remote and waterfront but are either boat or backpack in. I skipped them given you requirements.

    Due to the placement of the ponds relative to the local mountains there is usually a good wind. Bus will be less in August but mosquitos usually visit around dusk.

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info. That definitely looks like a hell of a spot. I have never stayed in a lean to. Are you allowed to pitch a tent inside a lean to or do you have to use some sort of bivy set up, tarp, etc.? I know they expressly prohibit pitching a tent around the lean to but is inside OK? And what about a screen house? I assume that is out too if tents aren't allowed.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 46/48; NY 46: 6/46

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikehikeskifish View Post
    I believe South Branch Pond is your best bet. It's absolutely beautiful and the Traveler is stunning. TONS of blueberries, in-season.

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    Tim
    Do you remember what site # this is Tim? That is spectacular.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 46/48; NY 46: 6/46

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    BTW, there are quite a few other sites on ponds and Matagamon lake that are remote and waterfront but are either boat or backpack in. I skipped them given you requirements.

    Due to the placement of the ponds relative to the local mountains there is usually a good wind. Bus will be less in August but mosquitos usually visit around dusk.
    Any recommendations on those? In the event I go up without my wife that would certainly be high on my list.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 46/48; NY 46: 6/46

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    Senior Member MikePS's Avatar
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    Not sure of rule, but I have seen many people put a small ten inside a leanto. They will not allow on the site. BTW So Branch Mtn & Black Cat across the lake from Traveler loop is another good 1/2 day hike you can make a loop coming back on Pogy trail. Nearby Burnt Mth offers surprising views for a short (1.3 mi) walk. Ditto on the blueberries coming down No Traveler is just loaded. Have fun!

  10. #10
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    Do you remember what site # this is Tim? That is spectacular.
    From the picture it is #2.

    Tim

  11. #11
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikehikeskifish View Post
    From the picture it is #2.

    Tim
    Sorry. My eyes went straight to the photos and I missed it in the caption.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 46/48; NY 46: 6/46

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    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    Sorry. My eyes went straight to the photos and I missed it in the caption.
    Patton is a small town with a good diner and a fun Lumberman's Museum.

    Inside the Park Trout Brook Farm offers camping and canoe rentals. A short paddle down stream takes you into Grand Lake Matagamon for swimming and fishing.

    South Branch Pond has two sections: upper and lower. There is a good jumping cliff on the west side of Upper. Usually an easy portage between the two.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    We've stayed at S. Branch Pond bunkhouse a few times and there was only one night that anyone outside our party stayed there and that was a party of 1.

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    The bunkhouse is nice with windows and screens but its back in the woods like many of the campsites at SBP. That is why using the campsite maps showing the site numbers is important when reserving a site. Due to the large waterfront and location there are quite a few family groups with campers that move in for extended periods that stay in the back campsites. They are fairly widely spaced compared to a commercial campground.

  15. #15
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    The bunkhouse is nice with windows and screens but its back in the woods like many of the campsites at SBP. That is why using the campsite maps showing the site numbers is important when reserving a site. Due to the large waterfront and location there are quite a few family groups with campers that move in for extended periods that stay in the back campsites. They are fairly widely spaced compared to a commercial campground.
    Any favorite sites? I love the walk ins at Roaring Brook, especially #16 at the end of the path. Anything comparable at South Pond? I do like space between sites. I would never stay at the RB sites along the road.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 46/48; NY 46: 6/46

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