Updated: Jun 2, 2020
If you are itching to get outside and enjoy the summer days, now is the time. Hiking is my favorite form of exercise because it combines strength and cardio + you get direct inspiration from the earth! The fresh air, the greens grass, the shades of trees, the songs of the birds, the radiance of the sun, and the awe of the mountain top views! With June upon us, and parks starting to open up post complete quarantine, Mount Katahdin is a wonderous option for hiking. The Natives know it as “The Great Mountain.” This glorious mountain (the tallest in Maine) offers challenging ascents to the peaks of well known Baxter, South, and Pamola. The less clouted Hamlin peak still offers a great climb through Hamlin Ridge. Locals say it offers some of the best panoramic views of Northern Maine. Any ascent up this mountain is not exactly for the newbie hiker, although it is indeed feasible and rewarding!
This mountain can make you fall in love with hiking. The average round trip hike time is 9 hours. Cathedral Trail, for example, takes you up a heart-pounding, boulder jumping, strenuously steep climb. This trail will test your nerves, and I would not recommend it if you are the least bit afraid of heights. As you descend, you will marvel at the sights and sounds of strong tree lines, eagles a flight, and brooks roaring encouraging your steps. You will trudge along trails that seem endless, such as the lengthy 5.2 mile Hunt Trail or the Saddle Trail with 3.3 miles of untrustworthy rocks under your feet. Views of lakes, pines, firs, and maple trees stretch across the land. The mile-high gaze at Maine’s wilderness will cause you to take a break, breathe, and admire. For the courageous at heart, Knife’s Edge Trail of 2 to 3-foot width rock span, will give you a risky right of passage to the other side of the mountain.
Within this large land park, you are certain to create memories. White water rafting on the Penobscot River is a thrilling step (or swim) of faith. Though the Great Mountain is the pinnacle of the Park, there are hundreds of other superb hiking trails and mountains to explore. Mount Coe and Mount Sentinel will increase your affection and I dare say respect for the area. These are day hikes, an average of 3 to 4 hour round trips. Once you get to the Park Gate, the Rangers will point you in the direction to travel on the Tote Road to reach either destination.
The glow of a campfire and cookout is half the joy at the end of a day’s adventure. However, on the eves you do not have the inspiration to do your own cooking, head to the Big Moose Inn Restaurant & Loose Moose Bar, located just a few miles from the Park entrance. If you are looking for a thick burger to power up on protein after a hike, check out the bar menu. If you are more of the mindset of finer dining, step into the restaurant, which is just next door. They have a roasted duck that you will enjoy whole heartily; so much so, that the next sight of a duck gliding on the lake will ignite your taste buds to remember the dish! There is a lovely spot upstairs, a veranda, to enjoy your meal away from the crowd. This is where we often cheers to a long day of trail running and nourishing ourselves after all the rewarding work. River Driver’s Restaurant is also an excellent place to fill your belly after a day of hiking, rafting, or snowshoeing in the winter. I savored a gingerbread martini there in December, and all I could say was, “Merry Christmas to me!” My husband dived into the homemade lobster mac and cheese. The dish looked extra cheesy and held lobster meat galore! River Driver’s are a part of the New England Outdoor Center, which offers many choices of services: Rafting, Wilderness tours, Snowmobile trips, camping, and more.
Lodging can be rustic and minimal, such as a tent on Big Moose Inn Grounds, or you can indulge in the sweet stays of extravagant log cabins. 5 Lakes Lodge in Millinocket is an escape you must travel off-road to find. Few GPS’s will work here... ol’ fashion written directions is best. This mighty log home is owned by Rick and Debbie LeVasseur, who offer pleasant hospitality of clean rooms (jacuzzis to boot), and home-cooked breakfasts. Who would not want to relax in a cedar post king size bed with a clear view of the Great Mountain?
There is much to explore in the grand Baxter State Park! I encourage you to take a walk through the park and find an adventure within its rugged beauty and terrain.
To learn more about Mount Katahdin and it's trails, check out:
Lost on a Mountain in Maine, By Donn Fendler
Mount Katahdin~ Inspired Life, Digital Printable:
Be sure to take snacks for your hiking trips! Try Clif Whole Lotta Organic Protein Fruit Nut & Seed Bars Roasted Peanut Chocolate, Pack of 12 https://bit.ly/2zXxBXj