View Full Version : Good map of Baxter Park?

02-13-2016, 11:10
I'm looking for a decent map of Baxter SP trails. What I have found online (for free) aren't worth anything. If I am going to purchase a map, I prefer a pdf version or other e-map so I can view it on my computer screen, but if not, a printed map would work.
I would expect that the AT guide set for Maine is a good map, but it is pretty expensive.

Thanks for your help


Water Rat
02-13-2016, 11:29
Here's a link to a free map of Baxter. It's one of their road maps, but does outline some of the trails. http://www.baxterstateparkauthority.com/maps/

The best ones I have found are on paper (waterproof paper). I really like the Katahdin Baxter State Park Waterproof Trail Map for looking at Katahdin up close. http://www.mapadventures.com/collections/maine/products/katahdin-baxter-state-park

I really like the AMC's Maine Mountains Trail Map 1 Baxter State Park - Katahdin for when I want to see a bit more of the surrounding area in addition to Katahdin. http://www.amazon.com/AMC-Map-Katahdin-Wilderness-Mountains/dp/1934028576

Good maps are getting more expensive these days, but they do also last longer when printed on waterproof paper. Also fun to have for after the hike when you want to be able to see all the other cool stuff in the area.

Of course, they are also seriously distracting. :D

02-13-2016, 11:40
It depends on what you need. Most thruhikers don't buy a specific map and just get the map set from MATC as the Maine is definitely a place you want good maps as if you do need to go off trail you need to know where as unlike much of the AT you could wander for days if you make the wrong choice.

Since you are a AT hiker, the AMC combined Baxter State Park and 100 mile wilderness map is about the best option. http://amcstore.outdoors.org/maine-mountains-trail-map.

Do note, the Abol trail is being relocated and hopefully will be open this year so any map will not accurately reflect the current route. It begins and ends at the same place.

02-13-2016, 16:04
I'm going to order the AMC Baxter + 100mi from Amazon. It's $1 cheaper (so long as I get free shipping) than the non-member price at AMC. I was kind of hoping that there was a better free map that would at least tell me where Knife Edge is in relation to other trails. I was able to make it out on the free map, but it is very difficult to read the text.
In any case, I'm thinking that I might reserve a tent site at Chimney Pond, so I could sleep there after having hiked up from either Abol or Roaring Brook. I would not traverse Knife edge, but instead use the other trail that connects Chimney Pond with Baxter Peak. Maybe Chimney Pond would be less buggy, with its altitude?

02-13-2016, 16:22
Maybe Chimney Pond would be less buggy, with its altitude?

Last July when I hiked the Hamlin Ridge trail, we started, and ended, at Roaring Brook. We didn't have any black flies until we got to Hamlin peak, and then, they were pretty bad. Hardly any bugs to speak of, lower down. Its a much longer day starting from Roaring Brook.

02-13-2016, 18:12
Last July when I hiked the Hamlin Ridge trail, we started, and ended, at Roaring Brook. We didn't have any black flies until we got to Hamlin peak, and then, they were pretty bad. Hardly any bugs to speak of, lower down. Its a much longer day starting from Roaring Brook.
That's really surprising. I have a lot to learn about the insects of Maine!

02-13-2016, 19:27
Looks like you need a map as you lack some local knowledge. It would be good to know your hiking resume as it would affect recommendations.

Unless you have hiked at Baxter, there is not a lot of hiking in the Northeast that is close. If you are familiar with the whites, the closest approximation are the rocky routes up Washington or the Northern presidentials, like Kings Ravine, Huntingtons, Lions Head, Ammonusuc Ravine or Osgood. The trails up over the top are inherently steep rocky and long. Most require some boulder scrambling. One thing to factor in is the amount of above treeline on Kathadin and that every piece of crappy weather gets drawn like a magnet to the summit. The mountain also makes its own weather and it frequently builds clouds even on a clear day. If its windy, hiking with a full backpack can act like a sail and a day pack is a lot easier to hike with. The standard recommendation is 1 day out of three in the summer will be great hiking conditions, one will be marginal and one will be rotten. The park can close the trails to the summit if the weather forecast is too rotten.

The trails are roughly broken into the ones accessed from the east side of the mountain from the Roaring Brook Road and from the west side of the mountain via the perimeter road. It would be highly unusual to climb up Abol and the drop back down to Chimney Pond as that would be an extra 1000 feet descent. Its highly unlikely that you can even get reservations at Chimney Pond as it is the most popular backcountry site. If you do get a leanto or bunkspace at Chimney, its only a hour and a half hike from Roaring Brook to Chimney in the AM. Its a spectacular spot. Its quite possible to do the Knife Edge as a day hike after hiking up to Chimney. The next day you can take Saddle trail to the summit (or Cathedral or Hamlin ridge) and then head down the AT. If you don't get reservations at Chimney, you can do the knifes edge from Roaring Brook via Helon Taylor trail but hauling a full pack over the Knifes Edge is difficult even on good day unless you are very comfortable with borderline technical climbing in spots with a backpack on. I wouldn't recommend it. If the weather is marginal its dangerous even with a day pack. The Chimney Pond trail and the Saddle trail is the marginal weather route to the summit. There really is no bad weather route to the summit due to the large exposed above treeline area.

The standard AT start is stay at Katahdin Stream, drop gear at the ranger station, go to the summit via the AT (Hunt trail) and then come down the same trail and preferably stay another night at KSC before heading south. If you stay in Millinocket at the AT lodge there is morning shuttle so you can skip the first night at KSC. If you want variety, you can drop your gear off at KSC ranger's cabin then walk down the park road about 2 miles to Abol Campground (not Abol Pond) and take Abol trail up then return via the Hunt Trail where you hopefully will stay the night.

Realistically if you are unsupported meaning someone isn't driving up with you, stick to the west side of the mountain. If and when you finish your thru hike, plan a multiday trip to BSP after your hike. To really see the park takes several days and I expect most thru hikers are just too impatient.

The bugs can stay late at the park and in Maine in general. Its either mosquitoes in the evening or black flies during the day. If you can get a bunkhouse spot (the lowest cost option for solo hikers) its the best as they have screens on the windows. Otherwise plan on tent site and hope you have bug netting.

02-14-2016, 13:31
Thanks for the good info on Baxter. I will take your advice, and not try to do anything in Baxter aside from the A.T. to and from the summit. As you said, my goal is to thru-hike the A.T., not to explore Baxter.
As for my experience; I have been to Mt. Washington three times. Once, I hiked the Bott Spur trail from Pinkham to the summit. That was a long trek, but the weather was perfect. I took the Lions Head and Tuckerman trails back on the same day. The 2nd time I went, I took Tuckerman to Hermit Lake, then Lions Head to the summit, and same route down. Both times snow was still closing the upper half of Tuck, and this was late June!
I went up a third time, late in July, and finally got to do Tuck all the way to the summit. This was all with a day pack, but with lots of extra gear (Gore-tex and fleece), which I needed on the third trek, as it was cold and windy on top.

I think I was confused between KS and Abol when I talked about going to Abol and leaving my pack at the ranger station. I will purchase the AMC map of Baxter + 100 mile before I solidify any plans.

I think I am fairly strong as a hiker. I am an unltrmarathon runner, so I have built up good leg muscles, and am doing core exercises as well.
That said, I realize that hiking with a heavy pack for long distances is nothing like running with almost no pack for long miles.
My biggest problem hiking is heat. I had almost forgotten about my problems down here in NY in November when it was unseasonably warm, and I failed to make more than half the mileage I had planned on a trek through Harriman Park. So I do have to take the heat into consideration. For that reason, plus others, I am not closing my mind to the alternative thru-hiking methods, or even doing sections instead. But I do want to start up on Katahdin this summer or maybe early fall if the weather holds out. I still think it beats starting with the hordes at Springer in March or April.

One last comment: I mentioned Harriman Park in NY. I am very aware that Harriman is no match for the mountains farther north, and south. Perhaps for that reason, my smartest hike would be to start down here in NY and hike north, then flip-flop back to NY and continue south. That way, my body and mind would be ready for Maine.


Water Rat
02-14-2016, 14:21
Most AT hikers go up the Hunt Trail from the Katahdin Stream Campground (also where they check in at the Ranger Station) and come back down the same way. While not the easiest trail (there really is no "easy" trail up Katahdin), it is the most direct, and is the official route of the AT. The trail literally goes right through the campground.

Katahdin can be done and is often tackled by those who are not in the best of shape. One does not need to be an Olympic caliber athlete to take on this mountain, but it does seriously help to be in shape. I wouldn't worry too much about changing your entire approach to the AT just because of Katahdin. Many SOBOs start from Katahdin and do just fine. You just need to be sure to give yourself plenty of daylight and take breaks if necessary. It is good to have a healthy respect for her (too many underestimate her), but this is not Everest. :D

Taking a lightweight pack (even if you only leave some of your non-essentials at the ranger station...) up will make your knees happier on the way down. It is a long way down... Katahdin is not very subtle about letting you know that fact. You most likely will not want to hike too much further than the Katahdin Stream Campground. Especially if heading up and down Katahdin takes longer than you think it will. The AT is a marathon, not a sprint. You should do just fine as long as you pace yourself and take it as easy as possible at the beginning.

Honestly, I can't think of a better way to start an epic hike, than starting from Katahdin.

02-14-2016, 17:32
By the way. I have hiked from Roaring Brook to KSC in a day and have made more than few loops over the summit with a backpack including over the knife edge. Given your resume it looks like you are physically capable of doing the hike. The biggest thing to keep in mind is if its a nasty windy day on the summit, if can really beat you up. Lot to be said to make two nights reservations, if the first day is nasty wait until the next. If you take the rangers up on their deal and borrow a daypack, hiking to the summit and hiking out of the park is quite possible. The Hunt trail has about a 1/2 mile gymnastics section of bouldering, the bigger the pack the more difficult it can be. As Water Rat noted many folks in poor shape make it up and down the mountain they just may not be walking very well the next few days. Realistically the walk out of the park and into the 100 mile wilderness is mostly flat and level along old logging roads so the next day isn't particularly strenuous.

02-14-2016, 17:37
There is only 3 miles of the Hunt trail that is difficult. The first mile and the last mile is actually a pretty pleasant stroll...in good weather.

The first time I climbed Katahdin, there was a Sobo hiker just starting out. He got to the top and was so wiped out, he didnt know if he could continue down the mountain. He was just sitting at the top, trying to figure out an easier way down :D

02-15-2016, 01:11
I'm thinking even more than 2 days reservation at KS, in case I arrive and the weather turns bad, and stays bad. OTOH, if that happens, it is probably that others won't show and I can hold the site for longer (paying the fees of course). That said, I can't wait for the "perfect" day to summit. After all, if I am going to hike the whole trail, I'm going to be hiking in a lot of bad weather.
I'm currently reading "Lost on the Appalachian Trail" by Kyle Rohrig. Although he hiked NOBO, the excellent description of the trail he provides is helping me to understand just what I will be up against. Reading hasn't scared me away, it has inspired me to make my own attempt at a thru-hike.

Before I come up to Maine, I am going to do some hiking closer to home, in all kinds of weather. I want to test my mental capabilities as well as physical. It's pretty much the same thinking that goes into preparing for an ultramarathon. You may be strong enough physically, but do you have the mentality to run the distance? To date, my longest run was 50 miles, which I did in under 10 hours, but the course was almost completely flat, not over mountains like those on the A.T. My longest hike was 16 miles in the Catskills. That was a day hike.

02-15-2016, 08:55
Your biggest issue is to set a reasonable pace in first few days of the the 100 MW. Many folks get going way to fast in the northern section and then hit a wall on the ascent up White Cap. They still make good time taking terrain into account but the big drop in daily mileage from Whitecap over Barren and Chairback makes them feel like they are in trouble.

02-15-2016, 11:36
^^^ What peakbagger said, about the Hundred Mile Wilderness. The only hard hiking in that stretch is the two ridges, Whitecap and Barren-Chairback. The northern 50 miles are pretty mellow by AT standards.

02-15-2016, 12:22
I'm more worried about the bugs than the hike itself, but then there is the heat as well. Perhaps an August start would be better than June or early July. If I start at Kat around mid August, I should be in the Whites by mid Sept, and should be able to get past them before the bad weather sets in. Of course, that is not easy to predict.
Problem is that with an August start in ME, I wouldn't be at Springer before Jan or Feb, and that means lots of snow in the Shenandoah, Smokys, and probably NC and even GA. It seems that no matter when one starts an A.T. thru-hike, he is going to face some sort of hardship. I guess that the bugs would actually be less of a problem than cold and snow.
Perhaps I could wear some sort of bug-proof clothing. What do they wear in the rain forests?

02-15-2016, 12:53
Bugs are relative thing, you get used to them. I live here and they can be annoying some days and even miserable on a few days but its weather dependent. There is treated clothing for sale (Bugs away) or you can buy a soak in product that lasts several washings which should last the length of bug season. In either case you still should have some repellent. If the black flies are real bad, there are bug suits that are available. Rarely do they bother you when you are hiking, its normally when you stop. Pick up some Ultrathon http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/Ultrathon/Products/Resources/Military-Government/ and a head net and you should be set. Ultrathon is best bought from a large outdoor gear supplier like Campmor, a lot of retailers don't stock it as it is bit more expensive. Many folks slather way too much on, if used to the label a container lasts quite awhile.

02-15-2016, 12:58
Re: Bugs. DEET for mosquitoes. When those little midges are flying around my head and dive-bombing my eyeballs, I wear a pair of light, cheap plastic safety glasses. In the past, I've used a head-net for that purpose. That works, but it's hot, and interferes with your vision. Not ideal.

02-16-2016, 12:26
I had bought some permethrin for clothing several years back, but after reading the warnings, I decided not to use it, so I got rid of it at the county sponsored toxic chemical "recycling" depot. I see that Campmor sells a spray-on version, and after reading about in Wikipedia, it seems that it's not so bad. Absorption by the skin is low, so long as you don't spray it directly on skin. The instruction says that you spray it on the clothing while it's not being worn. I think it needs to dry for a few days as well. The ad says it lasts 6 washings.

I hate the thought of wearing long sleeves and pants on hot days, but that, with the permethrin + DEET is probably my best defense.

02-16-2016, 16:38
Permethrin treating has almost entirely eliminated my need for bug dope. I will pop on a head net maybe once a year just to avoid inhaling them when the BFs get too thick. I use a long sleeve cooling shirt, like a Pataguci Cap1 or a G9, light weight convertible pants and light work gloves I buy at HD leaving little exposed flesh. As a bonus I never pick up any ticks either.

Sawyer spray on is totally safe so long as you let it dry. Don't be shy about soaking the clothing well, preferably somewhere ventilated but out of the wind, then line dry. You may notice a faint odor, but it keeps working even after you can't smell it any more. Hit your hat and bug net as well to create a no fly zone around your head. They will circle but not crawl all over you at least.

02-16-2016, 16:40
Mammals deactivate permethrin when its absorbed through the skin, except for cats. They are missing a gene that other mammals have. Since mammals can deactivate permethrin, its why it says not to spray on the skin. It does nothing beneficial. Ive become a big fan of permethrin treated clothing after finding no ticks on me at all this year. My kids tell me it was a bad tick year.

02-16-2016, 16:43
I think I now have a better perspective of Baxter peak. I created a 3-D model of the A.T. from Baxter to Monson, using Google Earth, "T-ANE SP1" railroad simulator, and "TransDem", a program that converts DEM, Raster, and Vector maps to a form that the simulator can read.
I haven't populated the model with trees, or painted the terrain, but I get a rough map painted over the terrain with TransDem.
If you're curious, here is a link to the shot of Knife Edge looking from the Helon Taylor trail towards Baxter Peak. Looks pretty scary!


02-16-2016, 18:46
That model is a lot smoother than it actually is. I have somebpictures of Knifes edge taken from the top of the Saddle trail that will give you an idea of what you are facing if you want to hike Knife's Edge. There is also a youtube video a guy shot with a go pro of his entire climb along Knife Edge.

Water Rat
02-16-2016, 18:54
Knife Edge is amazing! You just don't wanna do it on a windy day...or if you have a fear of heights. :D

Here's a brief YouTube video that begins on the Hunt Trail, at the iron rungs. Then, it skips a bit and includes the Tablelands. At the 1:09 mark, that is when Knife Edge begins. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A88bXzKhe7k

Lots of fun videos out there! Just head on over to YouTube and type in Hunt Trail, Katahdin, etc. :) She sure is an amazing place!

02-16-2016, 22:19
The model is smooth because I used 1 Arc Sec, not 1/3 Arc to create it. I tried to use the 1/3 but my system has only 8GIB, and froze up while TransDem was attempting to process it. Should have been able to complete the task with virtual memory, but something went wrong.

I have seen the Go-Pro vid of the hike. It doesn't look all that bad from that perspective, but that is deceiving.

02-16-2016, 23:58
Knife Edge is amazing! You just don't wanna do it on a windy day...or if you have a fear of heights. :D

Here's a brief YouTube video that begins on the Hunt Trail, at the iron rungs. Then, it skips a bit and includes the Tablelands. At the 1:09 mark, that is when Knife Edge begins. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A88bXzKhe7k

Lots of fun videos out there! Just head on over to YouTube and type in Hunt Trail, Katahdin, etc. :) She sure is an amazing place!
If I'm going to have to climb those iron rungs, I don't think I would want to be carrying my full pack!

02-17-2016, 07:52
If I'm going to have to climb those iron rungs, I don't think I would want to be carrying my full pack!

You can get day packs from the rangers at KSC. Those iron rungs was where I had an attack of vertigo. We had climbed up to that point in rain and fog so thick you couldnt see 30 feet. My gf was ahead of me and I heard her call out "Look"! I turned around and for maybe 10 seconds the clouds had opened up and we had a wide open view. I had a moment whete i thought "Wow, we are really high up"! Then i felt like i was going to fall off the mountain. I grabbed the side of the mountain for dear life. When the clouds rolled back in, i couldn't see any more and shakily continued climbing. I've never felt anything like that since. Every other time I've hiked Katahdin it as from fair to beautiful weather and I had beautiful views.

Knifes Edge is still on m bucket list, though

02-17-2016, 12:08
egilbe said: You can get day packs from the rangers at KSC.That's my plan, now that it has been brought to my attention. I don't usually have any trouble with climbing rocks and ladders, or rungs as they may be, but I don't think I would turn around and look at the view while in such a situation. I too may feel a bit shaky after what you experienced. I would love to do Knife Edge, but the weather would have to be perfect, and I would want to be with a group. That is definitely not a hike anyone would want to make alone.

It's interesting how the mind works with fear of heights. Put Knife Edge at a location where you don't have the steep drop-off on both sides, and it is a cake walk. The biggest problem would be getting a foot caught in the rocks. I hiked up Lions Head and Tuckerman's to Mount Washington on lots of broken rocks like that, but of course there wasn't a steep drop-off on both sides. When I was a child, I would climb trees, but rarely go as high as some of my friends did. Perhaps before I go to Katahdin, I'll try some wall climbing in a gym. Maybe that would give me a little more confidence?

02-17-2016, 13:01
There is an odd form of fear of heights that I have run into few times. The person is fine up high if there is a visual reference in their peripheral vision but if there isn't they freak out. I have threatened to have them wear horseblinders. The rungs on the Hunt trail are in fairly wide boulder field.

The knife edge on the other hand even on calm day has some spots that freak folks out as it drops straight down in spots. The rangers have a sense of humor when they reblaze the trail. The upthrust of the rocks is near vertical so it forms in spots a trail that is 10" wide. Generally to the side is what I can a "chicken run" which is fairly flat route down a bit lower and to the side of the actual knifes edge. Most of the time folks have the toughest time on some vertical walls going around the pnnacles immediately west of the Chimney, the trail has plenty of good handholds but it requires hanging off a near vertical slope and working sideways with a steep drop below the hiker. Immediately before that is the climb out of the chimney which requires climbing up vertical crack. The handholds are there but many don't like the exposure. When I lead newbies through I sometimes have to spot folks above and below to guide the climbers feet and hand to the hold. Once you get past the pinnacles, then the rest of the route to the summit is "easier". I have never done it on a windy day but many who have all agreed it was real stupid. By the way some thru hikers dump ther packs at the summit and just do the out and back over to Pamola. If they are staying in the park that evening and its a nice day why not spend the time up top instead of sitting down in the woods?

02-17-2016, 15:31
Somehow, I think that more NOBO thru-hikers than SOBO just starting out at Katahdin would be inclined to do Knife Edge. By the time you've hiked 2200 miles and pretty much done all sorts of high traverses, Knife Edge would be a lot less intimidating. Whether or not I try it depends on a lot of things... But I am sure that doing it would give me a lot of confidence, and make it more likely that I will complete the entire thru-hike to Springer.