Katahdin, Maine's highest mountain and the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, is a gigantic slab of granite sculpted by glacial erosion. Katahdin stands proudly in Baxter State Park, known for its wilderness-first approach, earning it the nickname "The 51st state.” Rising a mile above sea level, Katahdin dramatically overshadows the surrounding lakes and forests. Influenced by the northern latitude, its timberline begins at about 3,500 feet.

Katahdin is shaped like a horseshoe opening to the northeast. Along this horseshoe, five major peaks are arranged counterclockwise from the north: Howe Peak, Hamlin Peak, Baxter Peak (the summit), South Peak, and Pamola Peak. The Knife Edge, a narrow, jagged escarpment stretching from South Peak to Pamola Peak, is Katahdin's most striking feature, providing an unforgettable traverse.

The first official summit was by surveyor Charles Turner Jr. via the Hunt Spur on 2 August 1804. Henry David Thoreau captured Katahdin’s allure in "The Maine Woods” after his 1846 ascent.

Access Point

Navigate to W49V+V3, Millinocket, ME.

To reach Katahdin, take Interstate 95 and exit at Millinocket-Mattawamkeag, approximately 50 miles north of Bangor, Maine. Follow the signs to Millinocket. Once there, turn right at the high school onto Katahdin Avenue. After a few blocks, turn left at the Baxter State Park sign. Continue for about 16 miles to the park. Choose either Perimeter Road (left) or Roaring Brook Road (right) to reach the trailhead. The park's rugged gravel roads follow Governor Baxter's vision for preserving wilderness.

Recommended Route

Follow The Hamlin Peak Loop Trail.

Katahdin offers multiple routes to its summit, involving varying degrees of scrambling. The recommended eastern approach begins at Roaring Brook Campground, following the Helon Taylor Trail (4.3 miles to summit), leading directly to Pamola Peak and the Knife Edge.


Entrance to the park requires a fee of $14.

Baxter State Park strictly regulates visitor numbers to preserve the wilderness, so please adhere to the posted rules. Be sure to arrive early, as even 06:00 AM can be too late during peak season.

The official season is from 15 May to 15 October, and while full gear was previously mandatory outside this period, now only a working flashlight is essential.

Before hiking, sign in at the Chimney Pond Hut with your name, chosen route, and expected return time. Please sign out upon departure.

Camping & Lodging

Camping in Baxter State Park is by reservation only in designated areas. Reservations open four months in advance and are highly competitive, especially for summer dates, and Maine residents receive priority. Last-minute reservations (within ten days) are possible by phone but are unlikely to be successful.

We recommend booking a hotel in Millinocket, such as Katahdin Inn & Suites.


Can beginners climb Katahdin?

While some routes are more accessible than others, Katahdin's climbs generally require good physical fitness and some hiking experience. The Saddle Trail is best for less experienced hikers.

Do I need a permit to climb Katahdin?

You don't need a specific climbing permit, but you do need to pay an entrance fee to Baxter State Park and adhere to park regulations.

What is the best time of year to climb Katahdin?

The best time to climb is from late spring to early fall (roughly 15 May to 15 October), as the trails and campsites are open and the weather is more favorable.

How long does it take to climb Katahdin?

The time varies depending on the route and individual pace, but most hikers should plan for a full-day hike. Some routes can take between 8 and 12 hours round trip.

What are the major trails to summit Katahdin?

Major trails include the Hunt Trail, the Abol Trail, the Knife Edge Trail, the Saddle Trail, and the Helon Taylor Trail.

Is Katahdin part of the Appalachian Trail?

Yes, Katahdin is the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

Are there any wildlife concerns in Baxter State Park?

The park is home to various wildlife, including black bears. Proper food storage and awareness are essential.

What are the safety considerations when climbing Katahdin?

Weather can change rapidly, so be prepared with appropriate gear. Also, some sections, like the Knife Edge, are very narrow and require caution. Always let someone know your route and expected return time.

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