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  1. #1
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    Default best way up to Kathadin summit

    Hi,

    I would like to know what would be the more beautiful and enjoyable way to go up Kathadin. I think that the Abot trail is the more popular. Do you think the Knife Edge trail is worth doing since I'm in the area or this is not a "must". Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Roaring Brook into Chimney Pond, Cutoff Trail to Hamlin Ridge, Hamlin across Saddle, and finally to Baxter. If weather permits, across Knife Edge and down Helon Taylor. That is my vote. Beautiful route.
    In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. - Abraham Lincoln

  3. #3

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    The knife edge is one a heck of trail. The weather has to be down right perfect, little wind and zero chance of any type of storm. There aren't many days in the year with favorable conditions for hiking the knife edge. The route BirdBrain suggests is great, but you'd have had to plan that a year ago to get reservations at Chimney pond and then hope for the right weather.
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  4. #4

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    Knife edge.
    If the weather Ok's it.
    Good luck.
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    The knife edge is one a heck of trail. The weather has to be down right perfect, little wind and zero chance of any type of storm. There aren't many days in the year with favorable conditions for hiking the knife edge. The route BirdBrain suggests is great, but you'd have had to plan that a year ago to get reservations at Chimney pond and then hope for the right weather.
    You are correct that the weather is a crap shoot. However, the weather is a crap shoot regardless of route. When I did this route, I stayed at KSC, was driven to Roaring Brook early by my wife, and came down the Hunt instead of Helon Taylor. If the weather is too bad for the Knife Edge, the Saddle Trail is a quick down to the pond and back out. No need to reserve at the pond. Just be in shape and hike longer and/or faster. If I can do it, anyone can. Again, the weather is a huge gamble regardless of route when you have to reserve ahead.
    In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. - Abraham Lincoln

  6. #6

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    The Abol trail is closed and when it reopens its going to be a far different route than before so all bets are off. I expect it will be closer to the Hunt trail experience.

    Enjoyable is a relative term, if you are not in good physical condition, there really is no route that will be enjoyable as the physical effort will really impact your enjoyment. Weather is also an issue, don't hike it unless the posted forecast at the gate is a class 1 day. If they post a class 2 day, the likelihood is no views and clouded in summits.

    A factor many from outside the area don't realize is that the majority of theses trails are essentially rock with the exception of a short approach. Unlike the AT south of New England, the trail bed is not soil, its rock. In some place these rocks may be flat but the majority of the trails the rocks require rock hopping. This can really slow folks who are not used to this type of hiking and can wear them out quickly.

    If you are in shape and have recent experience hiking rocky trails its hard to beat any of the major routes. If you are fortunate enough to have a car spot and a great forecast , the traverse across the mountain via Helon Taylor, Knife Edge and Hunt trail is spectacular. The down side is if the weather shifts and there are moderate to high winds on Pamola, the Knifes Edge can be dangerous and you may have to take Dudley down and miss the summit and head back to where you started. This is a problem with a car spot as there is no cell service so your ride may end up on the wrong side of the mountain. My choice without a car spot is Helon Taylor to Pamola, then Knife Edge to the Summit then the Hamlin Ridge trail down. This is a very long day and would be too long of a hike for many. A very nice alternative which I use for first timers in good shape it is Chimney Pond trail to Cathedral trail and then Knifes Edge and Helon Taylor down, if the weather is not great for the Knifes Edge, Saddle can be used to get back down. Saddle is my least favorite trail. Dudley is very steep and the majority of it is boulder scramble. Keep the poles stowed as you will be using your hands frequently to pull yourself up boulders.

    There are two very underused trails coming in from the north both require a overnight in the backcountry and therefore you need to be hauling an overnight pack. The Northwest Basin trail is unlike any other trail in New England. On my list is the Northern Peaks trail, I have had to bail on this hike three times due to the high winds and rain and will be giving it another go in about 5 weeks.

  7. #7

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    best way up to Kathadin summit


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  8. #8

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    Not to hijack the thread, but peakbagger, would you expand on the Northwest Basin trail? It intrigues me, and I have not met anyone familiar with it.
    Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. -Kahlil Gibran

  9. #9

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    The Northwest basin trail will be getting potentially better known in a few years if the proposed backcountry plan gets implemented.

    The Northwest Basin trail is about as remote as someone can get in the park on a maintained trail. Barring a fairly marathon effort it is not dayhiked. The lower trail runs from the Russell Pond area along a stream via an old logging road through increasingly mossy forests and then slowly the walls of the northwest basin rise up on either side of the stream, first its rock slides, then its occasional cliffs and finally its a continuous wall of cliffs. The trail then ascends a stream bed and then comes out at flat plateau at the base of the Northwest basin which is surrounded by mountains and cliffs for 300 degrees. There are a couple of ponds and then the trail slabs one of the walls to pop up on the top of the Northwest plateau. This is above treeline and exposed with the NW basin on one side and the Klondike on the other. Its about 3 miles to the summit above treeline in pure alpine territory. If you look this area up on Google Earth you can see the trail on top of the Northwest plateau. There is one single shelter in the base of the NW basin, its hidden in the woods but a 1 minute walk gets a hiker to Davis Pond which is at the base of the headwall. If someone books the shelter they effectively "own" the entire basin for the night. In order to book the Davis Pond shelter, a slot needs to be booked at Russell or Chimney either the night before or after. I have camped at Davis Pond once and had reservations for it two other times where the weather forecast was extremely nasty so I elected to bail as in rainy weather the trail would be very wet as part of the trail is in stream bed. I have also hiked it from Russell Pond. There reportedly is a bootleg trail down to Klondike Pond from the ridge but I have never found it. It rare to see anyone else on the trail until the junction with Hamlin Ridge. There is no comparison of this approach to any of the other day user accessible trails due to its remoteness. I expect if not for the tyranny of the whites blaze, many folks would elect to summit Baxter Peak this way, fortunately there is not a good connector trail from the AT.

    The reason why part of the trail may get more popular is long range park plan to add more backpacking loops http://baxtertrails.blogspot.com/201...o-happens.html. There is a link in the article that shows the proposed trail #2 and it is designed to link up with this trail I personally would like the park to add an additional connector trail to the top of Fort mountain from the proposed trail as Fort is nice mountain to visit but due to the long day hike there is little time to visit it.

    In general BSP is broken into three parts, the East and West sides of Katahdin for the masses, the Fort, Brothers Coe loop for the 100 highest list crowd and the rest of the park. Many folks make a two day trip to the park to check off their lists and skip the rest. Too bad for them as the backcountry north of the Katahdin and the South Branch Pond areas are must visits. The Traveler loop is worth making a special visit.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 08-04-2015 at 08:43.

  10. #10

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    Start Helon Taylor trail, across Knife Edge onto Baxter peak.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    The Abol trail is closed and when it reopens its going to be a far different route than before so all bets are off. I expect it will be closer to the Hunt trail experience.

    Enjoyable is a relative term, if you are not in good physical condition, there really is no route that will be enjoyable as the physical effort will really impact your enjoyment. Weather is also an issue, don't hike it unless the posted forecast at the gate is a class 1 day. If they post a class 2 day, the likelihood is no views and clouded in summits.

    A factor many from outside the area don't realize is that the majority of theses trails are essentially rock with the exception of a short approach. Unlike the AT south of New England, the trail bed is not soil, its rock. In some place these rocks may be flat but the majority of the trails the rocks require rock hopping. This can really slow folks who are not used to this type of hiking and can wear them out quickly.
    I'm not a expert but I have done a few hikes in the Whites and I found them relatively "easy". ( Loop Lincoln-Lafayette, mt Adams, mt washington). I guess the Katahdin look like the last section of mt Adams, big rocks all the way up to the summit.
    I'm supposed to attempt Katahdin in the next few weeks, the problem is that I live in Québec Canada, so this is more than 5 hours of driving. Will reserve my parking spot and hope for a good weather.

    Thanks for the informations guys

  12. #12
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    I find a route that gets you to Baxter without crossing the Knife Edge first is preferable. Some people have a problem navigating the Chimney. It would stink if you were stopped at the Chimney. If weather worsens, the Knife Edge becomes the first trail to suffer. Wind can be enough to stop people from going across it. If you want to do Helon Taylor, I would pick another trail up and then decide if the Knife Edge can be crossed.
    In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. - Abraham Lincoln

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    Thanks peakbagger!
    Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. -Kahlil Gibran

  14. #14

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    No problem chief

    Quote Originally Posted by BirdBrain View Post
    . If you want to do Helon Taylor, I would pick another trail up and then decide if the Knife Edge can be crossed.
    My standard recommendation for those who want to do Knife Edge is go up Cathedral Trail, if this is too intense or the summit weather is marginal, then take Saddle or possibly Hamlin ridge down instead of the Knife Edge. If the hiker was comfortable on the Cathedral trail they normally can tolerate the Knife Edge. If its calm and sunny with no significant weather coming in from west then consider the Knifes Edge. The one spot which is borderline technical is just before the actual Chimney neae the end of trail near Pamola. It is a downclimb that looks far scarier than it is. On a typical day there is a line up at this point as unlike most of the rest of the route there is no way to bypass it. If a hiker takes off their pack and possibly has someone below guide their feet to the unseen footholds below the spot its not an issue for 99% of the folks that hike this trail. There are potentially hundreds of hikers on a weekend that make it past this spot and I don't know of any report where someone was injured. To me the biggest hassle is that some folks (usually groups) get impatient and try to push their way ahead in line to go down this spot. I have in the past had to rather forcefully suggest that if they are in hurry they should jump off the side of trail down the ravine as trying to rush someone ahead does not help a nervous hiker make it down this spot. Of course add in rain clouds and wind and this great hike can and does get dangerous.

    The biggest hint is if you are in the park start as early as possible preferably in the dark with headlamps. The weather is almost always the best in the AM with clouds forming over the summit by noon to 1 PM. If you can get up there by 11 the crowd is far less, the views are potentially less obscured and rarely does any afternoon thundershowers form until after 1 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    The biggest hint is if you are in the park start as early as possible preferably in the dark with headlamps. The weather is almost always the best in the AM with clouds forming over the summit by noon to 1 PM. If you can get up there by 11 the crowd is far less, the views are potentially less obscured and rarely does any afternoon thundershowers form until after 1 PM.
    This is a great tip for any New England exposed ridge. It is why my pace is always near 2 mph. I hate to have a hike thwarted by possible bad afternoon weather. I am always pushing on the ups and relaxing on the downs. This makes for a sweaty BirdBrain, but so far a 100% success rate. My recent 14.4 mile Isolation hike had 70% thunder storm predictions from 8 AM on. I was on the trail at 6:30 AM, on the peak at 10 AM, and back to the car at 1 PM. I heard my 1st thunder clap as I was getting in my car. The LATS (Look At The Sky) method was more reliable than Weather Bug. My hope was to get off the peak before danger. That is always a good plan when there is any chance of lightning.
    In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. - Abraham Lincoln

  16. #16
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    I got a good view of the Basin trail from North Brother a few weeks ago. It seems, or looks like the most gradual route to Hamlin peak, anyway. GF and are are planning a back country hike around Katahdin, either next year or the year after. Looks like a nice loop in the works.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by egilbe View Post
    I got a good view of the Basin trail from North Brother a few weeks ago. It seems, or looks like the most gradual route to Hamlin peak, anyway. GF and are are planning a back country hike around Katahdin, either next year or the year after. Looks like a nice loop in the works.
    Thanks for the tip. I loved Hamiln and North Brother is 1 of the 7 I am missing to get the 67. It would be nice to make that more than just peak bagging. I will have to look into that route.

    Edit: Wait a sec. Isn't there a huge swamp between North Brother and Hamlin? I think I misunderstood something. Does the Basin Trail go toward Russell Pond?

    Second edit: Just read peakbagger's description. I am up to speed now. :/
    Last edited by BirdBrain; 08-04-2015 at 23:14.
    In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. - Abraham Lincoln

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by BirdBrain View Post
    Thanks for the tip. I loved Hamiln and North Brother is 1 of the 7 I am missing to get the 67. It would be nice to make that more than just peak bagging. I will have to look into that route.

    Edit: Wait a sec. Isn't there a huge swamp between North Brother and Hamlin? I think I misunderstood something. Does the Basin Trail go toward Russell Pond?

    Second edit: Just read peakbagger's description. I am up to speed now. :/

    I had to look at the map again, just to verify what I was saying is correct, and it is

    The Basin trail may be the easiest trail up to Hamlin, but it would take a couple days to get there. It would be nice to extend the trail from North Brother, to Fort Mountain down to the Basin trail. Could be a nice two or three day loop at that point

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by BirdBrain View Post
    I find a route that gets you to Baxter without crossing the Knife Edge first is preferable. Some people have a problem navigating the Chimney. It would stink if you were stopped at the Chimney. If weather worsens, the Knife Edge becomes the first trail to suffer. Wind can be enough to stop people from going across it. If you want to do Helon Taylor, I would pick another trail up and then decide if the Knife Edge can be crossed.
    I would agree. Find your preferred route to Baxter Peak out of Roaring brook first, then decide if the Knife Edge is doable. Weather will likely determine this, followed by ability and condition at the time of the decision. If you go to Pamola peak first, you have no option other than the Knife Edge to summit Katahdin.

    My first trip to Katahdin many years ago (20?) I only had a day to make the most of and got lucky. I was first in line to get a day parking pass for Roaring Brook Camping area. Made my way to Chimney Pond and met a fellow waiting for company to do the Cathedral Trail to the summit. I would have taken the longer way around solo, but taking this trail saved some time to open up other options at the top. Good thing as I recall, that trail was pretty challenging. We summited, the weather was warm and calm (late August), so we took the Knife Edge to Pamola then the Helon Taylor trail back to Roaring Brook. The longest part of that day hike was the drive out of RB to the park entrance, I swear they added another 12 miles to that road from the time I drove on it that morning.

  20. #20
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    Thanks for the infos guys
    I’m suppose to hike Katahdin this weekend, my parking lot reservation is done. Will go up Chimney Pond, then Cathedral trail, up there I will see how good is the weather, if weather’s good I will do the Knife Edge and then down Helon Taylor, if not, will go down either by cathedral again or by saddle trail. Can’t wait to go hiking Katahdin !

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