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  1. #1

    Default SOBO 2016 Summiting Katahdin

    Hey guys this is my first post on here so hopefully I do it correctly.

    My question is, what is the best way to summit Katahdin when doing a SOBO thru-hike? I would really like to hike the Knife Edge (weather permitting) and then go down on the Hunt Trail. If my calculations/ research is correct, then this would mean carrying my pack all the way from Roaring Brooke Campground (RBC) or finding someone to drive me from Katahdin Stream Campground up to RBC. I've been reading trail journals and looking through the forums but I can't find detailed information on what to do.

    These are two possible options
    Start at Roaring Brooke and go to :

    1.)Chimney pond campground ~3.3 mi (stay night),
    from here hike Dudley trail (1.3mi) -> Knife Edge (1.1mi) -> Hunt Trail (5.2mi) to Katahdin Stream Campground.
    total ~ 7.6 mi Chimney Pond to Katahdin Stream

    2.)Katahdin Stream Campground
    from here hike Helon Taylor trail (3.2mi) -> Knife Edge (1.1mi) -> hunt trail (5.2mi) to Katahdin Stream Campground
    total ~ 9.5 mi Chimney Pond to Katahdin Stream

    If these are not possible what are some other common treks? I heard that Abol trail is closed.

    Any advice or suggestions would be wonderful!
    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtGoat2016 View Post
    Hey guys this is my first post on here so hopefully I do it correctly.

    My question is, what is the best way to summit Katahdin when doing a SOBO thru-hike? I would really like to hike the Knife Edge (weather permitting) and then go down on the Hunt Trail. If my calculations/ research is correct, then this would mean carrying my pack all the way from Roaring Brooke Campground (RBC) or finding someone to drive me from Katahdin Stream Campground up to RBC. I've been reading trail journals and looking through the forums but I can't find detailed information on what to do.

    These are two possible options
    Start at Roaring Brooke and go to :

    1.)Chimney pond campground ~3.3 mi (stay night),
    from here hike Dudley trail (1.3mi) -> Knife Edge (1.1mi) -> Hunt Trail (5.2mi) to Katahdin Stream Campground.
    total ~ 7.6 mi Chimney Pond to Katahdin Stream

    2.)Katahdin Stream Campground
    from here hike Helon Taylor trail (3.2mi) -> Knife Edge (1.1mi) -> hunt trail (5.2mi) to Katahdin Stream Campground
    total ~ 9.5 mi Chimney Pond to Katahdin Stream

    If these are not possible what are some other common treks? I heard that Abol trail is closed.

    Any advice or suggestions would be wonderful!
    Thank you!
    I think you mean Roaring Brook to Helon Taylor? If you are dead set on hiking Knife's Edge, leave from Chimney Pond, it saves you 3.3 miles. Never really liked that hike up to and from Chimney Pond to climb Katahdin. Too rocky.

    Abol may be opened early next year. I think the trail relocation is just about finished.

  3. #3
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    Getting reservations at Chimney Pond are quite difficult and it tends to be one of the last campsites open in the park in the spring/early summer.

    If you are planning to hike the knifes edge, most people that are unfamiliar with the particular terrain on the mountain would be very uncomfortable with carrying a full pack over the Knife Edge trail. I have carried a pack over it in the past but I was familiar with the trail and the terrain. On a windy day its dangerous and once you have headed up Helon Taylor trail there really is no option to bypass the Knife Edge. This is definitely best done as a day hike. Arrive at the park early and do it as a day hike, then start your thru hike.

    From Roaring Brook, the options are Hamlin Ridge trail, Saddle trail and Cathedral trail. The Cathedral trail is also not very backpack friendly.

    Other things to consider, getting from KSC to Roaring Brook is not easy, the traffic flows don't line up well with when hikers want a ride from one trailhead to the other. In the late spring when most SOBOs start, some trails will still be closed.

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    You are 22. I was a few weeks from 52 when I did what I am about to suggest. Then I will go through the whys. This plan requires a support vehicle. We had our wives with us.

    Get a 2 day reservation at KSC. Take in the Owl for the fun of it the first day. The next morning, get an early start over to Roaring Brook (before 7am to avoid being shut out by limit of vehicles at Roaring Brook). Hike into Chimney Pond. Hike over to Hamlin Ridge Trail. Hike over Hamlin, across the Saddle, and up to Baxter Peak. Assess weather. Hike across and back across Knife Edge if weather allows. Hike down Hunt Trail to meet people from support vehicle (there are plenty of beautiful places they can explore during the day). Again, all of this requires support. Spend night at KSC. Next day start south to Hurd Brook.

    At my age and not in perfect shape, I did that plan in 10 hours (sans Knife Edge because of knock down winds and approaching thunderheads). We studied the possible routes for months. No surprise to anyone that knows me. What follows is the logic.

    Helon Taylor is most direct Route. It also requires a support vehicle as does any plan that gets you to the opposite side of the Knife Edge (unless you are willing to try to Yogi a hitch). If you go up Helon Taylor, you run a gamble of being trapped on the wrong side of the Knife Edge. Depending on your risk aversion, you might or might not make it to Baxter Peak.

    Dudley Trail suffers from same constraints as Helon Taylor. You are gambling on weather. It is not as direct a route as Helon Taylor. It is also very steep. It does take you by the pond. That is a view not to be missed.

    Cathedral Trail is an option. We chose Hamlin to take in the views of the 2 bowls and to bag another peak.

    Saddle Trail is the easiest option to assure that the Knife Edge is not a limiting factor. Again, it does not allow for the views of Hamlin Ridge.

    Over Hamlin (12.4 miles total if memory serves, will verify) took us 10 hours. We could not do the Knife Edge because of weather. There was plenty of time, if weather allowed. We were very happy for our choice. This route took us to the pond. You must see this view if you can.

    A final option is to go up Abol (if open). This also leaves options depending on weather.

    Regardless of route, Baxter Peak must be the priority. The Knife Edge should be secondary. For me, it would ruin my trip if I my choice kept me from getting to Baxter Peak. Yes, there is always the chance that weather will keep you from the Baxter Peak as well. However, the Knife Edge becomes a bad choice before Baxter Peak. Being stuck on the wrong side of the Knife Edge could become a huge motivating factor in making a very bad choice of pushing on to Baxter Peak anyways.

    Edit: Can't find map to verify distance of route. That is secondary though. Our 10 hours is enough of a benchmark. It should be noted that not only does our ages provide a buffer for you, we also took our time admiring the views.
    Last edited by BirdBrain; 11-17-2015 at 11:22.
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  5. #5

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    I wouldn't want to do the knife edge - or even climb up from Chimney pond with a full pack. And especially not as my first day out! I only managed to do the knife edge once, on a really nice day in August back when I was in my late 20's or early 30's. It's been awhile

    As mentioned, you have to be really lucky to get reservations for Chimney pond and doing the trip as a day hike would be one really, really long and hard day.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Agree with Birdbrain. Support vehicles and hike with a day pack from roaring brook. You may also want to recover for a day before taking on the 100 mile wilderness.

    A 70 year old client of mine recently climbed Katahdin and the knife edge. She actually inquired about getting a helicopter to Baxter peak! She only wanted to do the knifes edge!


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    Quote Originally Posted by MtGoat2016 View Post
    Hey guys this is my first post on here so hopefully I do it correctly.

    My question is, what is the best way to summit Katahdin when doing a SOBO thru-hike?
    Any advice or suggestions would be wonderful!
    Thank you!
    To answer your question, the best way to summit Katahdin when starting a SOBO is to get a campsite at KSC, leave your pack at the KSC ranger station and take the free loaner daypack, climb the Hunt trail up and back down, camp for the night at KSC. This is the best way for a lot of reasons. It will take you all day, and will flat wear you out. If you are starting a SOBO, do not underestimate this climb. The maps of Baxter SP are deceiving: trails like the Dudley, Cathedral, and even Hunt look easy on the map, but take many hours of hand over hand climbing.
    Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. -Kahlil Gibran

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    BTW, if you climb the Hunt Trail, when you arrive at Baxter Peak, you will be at begining of the Knife Edge. If the weather is good, go ahead and hike out the knife edge and then come back! Its only 1.1 miles or so.

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

  9. #9
    Registered User Mr. Clean's Avatar
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    Abol trail should be open by then, but won't help you with the knife edge. Stay at KS and get an early ride to roaring brook with a daypack, on a good weather day. Go up helon Taylor and across the knife to Baxter. In bad weather it may not be wise to attempt.
    Greg P.

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