View Full Version : Transportation inside BSP

07-16-2017, 23:33
I'd like to register at Katahdin Spring Campground in the very early morning of my Katahdin summit and hitch a ride to the Helon Taylor trailhead (Roaring Brook campground) so I can hike the Knife's Edge at the start of my SOBO thru-hike next year. How feasible is this? Are there any shuttles or public transportation operating in BSP? Any tranportation options to the other trailheads?
I have found nothing so far speaking to this point. Any reference websites appreciated.
Am I correct that I must register even though I aim to summit and be SOBO outside the park on day 1?

07-17-2017, 05:34
Well those two trailheads are sort of in opposite directions and I would guess that people on the Katahdin Stream side of Katahdin normally would not be driving to the Roaring Brook side of Katahdin and thus it may be hard to hitchhike. No transportation options are available either, at least that I know of. Is somebody driving you into the park early that morning? I don't think the gate opens until 6. Then there'll be a line of cars ahead of you. Then it'll be a slow drive to the trailhead. Your start wont' be incredibly early unless you decide to camp the night before.

That will be quite a long hike for one day (to get out of BSP). I would suggest getting a Katahdin Stream tent site reservation (way in advance) for the night after you ascend and descend Katahdin. You can always hike up the Hunt trail to Baxter Peak, hike over the Knife Edge and then backtrack down to the same trailhead.

But either way, best of luck.

07-17-2017, 05:37
Alternately you could camp at Roaring Brook the night before your Katahdin descent and then hike up Katahdin and down and out of BSP. But then your lugging your full pack up and down the mountain and I believe the Rangers sort of frown upon that.

07-17-2017, 06:44
Highly unlikely to get an early morning hitch. There are no shuttles offered by the park and no commercial shuttles. Feel free the call the AT Lodge in Millinocket and talk options.

Traffic flow in the early AM is from the Togue Pond gate for dayhikers going to the 3 Katahdin trail heads. Hikers going to Roaring Brook go right and those going to Katahdin Stream go left to KSC and Abol. Campers will be heading out od these campgrounds typically later in the morning to Togue Pond gate but they typically take their time. Its likely you can get a hitch out from KSC or Abol from these departing campers to Togue Pond gate and then you may wait quite awhile to get a hitch up to Roaring Brook as the next nights campers are heading in as all the dayhikers have already headed a couple of hours before. Despite the short map distance, the speed limit on the roads are low and going is slow so getting someone to give you a ride is two hour commitment.

Folks backpack all over the park including up and over the mountain. The rangers, if you see them,will try to dissuade you from hauling a full pack over the knife edge but they probably wont stop you. I have carried a full pack down the Knife Edge. I have not carried one up. There is one spot which is borderline technical where wearing a pack will makes things more interesting and its recommended that large packs be removed and dropped down with a rope. Ascending this section with a large backpack would make a difficult series of holds even more difficult. If its windy having a large pack on the knife edge makes it even more challenging. Up until two years ago, there was a "bail out" option via the Dudley trail from Pamola but that is now closed indefinitely. Thus if the weather turns bad the only option is turn around and take your chances on the exposed Helon Taylor trail back to Roaring Brook.

To repeat the oft repeated commentary, the terrain and hiking on Mt Katahdin is unlike any other part of the trail, it has stretches of bounder scrambling where hands are not optional. Adding a heavy backpack to the occasional balancing acts required to scramble over under and around house size boulders substantially complicates things. North bounders have gotten exposed to bits and pieces of similar hiking in the whites, the Mahoosucs and in Maine, a southbounder doesn't have that turning a difficult first day into a even more difficult one. There is nothing like it in the Midwest so training for it is not very practical.

The best option is discuss this with the AT Lodge and turn this into a day hike with possibly a stay at the AT Lodge the night after you go over the mountain. Then have them shuttle you back into the Park the next day with your backpack and head south. Most south bounders are in rush to head south and expect they just want to tag the summit and get going. There are a lot of guide services in the Millinocket area that could support you but finding reliable folks from a long distance is not easy thus the recommendation to contact the AT Lodge as they have a good reputation.

Realistically unless the AT Lodge can support you or you can convince someone to fly out with you and rent a car to support you this really adds complication.

07-17-2017, 07:54
We did something similar in that we shuttled to KSC, left a car, and shuttled to Roaring Brook ... hiked the mtn, over knifes edge, down the hunt ... went back to town and then shuttled out to KSC the next morning having shuttled our car to Monson. We did NOT use AT Lodge for support or shuttle but used a different service provider.

Hence, I'm certain you could shuttle to KSC, drop your pack and have your shuttle take you to Roaring Brook ... hike the Knife's Edge and down to your pack.... BUT ... I'm not certain that having hiked the Mtn, you will then have the time or energy to hike to Abol Bridge. Unless you have enough real experience to KNOW you can do this ... (the only people I know personally who could comfortably do that kind of day are professional mountain guides) ... I would suggest that you plan to camp at KSC (reserve your spot), and hike out of the park the next day. It is an easy hike out of the park, but NOT after submitting the mountain.

Let me know if you need a referral to another shuttle provider other that AT Lodge....

07-17-2017, 10:20
It takes a few days to recover after hiking Katahdin. Thankfully the hike out of BSP is fairly mellow. Katahdin is the single largest elevation gain on the AT. When I hiked it last, I was limping around for three days. Compared to this Saturday when I hiked Mt Adams I half the time with a 600 feet more elevation gain and there is no pain in my legs today. I'm also several years older than I when I hiked Katahdin and in much better condition, comparatively.


07-17-2017, 10:46
I end up at Baxter at least every other year and frequently every year. I usually end up doing a loop over the knife edge of one sort one day and some other long hike the next. Even though I ramp up my hiking in the whites a few weeks before, that second day requires Ibuprofin and a slow start. The strange thing that folks don't realize is that the Helon Taylor Knife Edge approach to the summit is actually less strenuous than the Hunt Trail. The Knife Edge has one dicey spot and then a bit more technical approach while the boulder field on the Hunt Trail requires a lot more gymnastics. The trade off is the Knife Edge is lot more exposed, there are multiple spots where a misstep means a certain fall down a near vertical chute for quite distance. Someone can break a leg on the Hunt trail, they are far more likely to be seriously injured or die on the Knifes edge (especially when the wind is high or an afternoon thunderstorm swings over. Both are very exposed with a lot of above treeline and on a hot day many folks don't drink enough and run their electrolytes down low.

I am always surprised that Southbounders not familiar with the territory can do Katahdin one day and throw on a pack loaded with several days of food when they head down and walk out of the park to Hurd Brook.

I don't have a recent set of MATC maps but for several editions they had the vertical profile maps on the back. The profile up Katahdin didn't look much worse than the proceeding days until a hiker realized that they changed the vertical axis but an order of 4 or 5.