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  1. #1
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    Default Katahdin 2016 SOBO Thru hike

    This is my first posted thread so please bear with me if my format and placement needs work.

    I am going to thru hike the trail this year starting at Katahdin. Now there is many new bits of information I am getting on this whole endeavor. I have had some wrong impressions and so I am not fully sure on this but I hope on this first bit I am sorely mistaken.

    So for me at this point to hike from Katahdin if I wanted to camp near by and get the trail it looks like Baxter first off wants me to sign up 4 months in advance. This puts my hiking date to July 13-14th. Not what I wanted or expected.

    I had hoped to not have to pay in excess of 50$ just to do so. I mean I understand that it costs to maintain the park but for two days of camping and a car pass to park there for less then a day seems very excessive just so I can also back set my travel date at this rate to the end of July.

    Here is the fee info I am looking at:

    Entrance fees (per vehicle) $14.00 Season Pass $39.00
    There is no vehicle fee assessed for Maine residents!
    Camping Fees:
    Site Transfers $15.00
    Campground Lean-to or Tent-site $30.00/night
    Backcountry Lean-to or Tent-site $20.00/night
    Bunkhouse (per person per night) $11.00
    Cabins:
    2-person cabin $55/night
    3-person cabin $75/night
    4-person cabin $100/night
    6-person cabin $130/night
    Group Areas:
    Per person per night $7.00
    Group site minimum $42.00


    So for 74$ I can pitch my tent for a two night stay and get dropped up here. Thus starting the south bound voyage. ONLY if I reserve my spot 4 months in advance. Better have an iron clad plan and all. Besides the fact that I cant even sign up for this and reserve a spot if I do not have a telephone?? Online?? Gotta love online reservations that wont let anything go through unless you have a phone number. Or I can mail them add on the delay of postal services.

    I am at the point on all this eager to be about all this that I am ready to say to heck with Mt. Katahdin and just get a ride up to the gate get out and hike my butt the 10 miles out of Baxter Park as if I was trying to escape Mordor. At risk I won't be a Thru hiker for lack of a 5 mile hike up a mountain.

    Somebody here I am hoping will know a cheaper more economic way to achieve my goal with out such a harsh kick to the balls as that above deal. I do not want to hike a 20 mile stretch on the first day fearing if I will make it out of the park before getting collared by an indignant ranger "for skirting the system".

    Ideally I would like to start my hike in June rather then July. Seems like no matter when I go I will be facing bugs and potential freezing water stream crossings. I can handle that, but getting blood sucked for a camp site is not on my current menu. I do not mean to belittle the forest service, or demean the whole climb up mount Katahdin. I am just also as always on a budget and a bit stuck in my own ways. Maybe those camping spots were made with gold laced gravel for all I know..

    Please any alternative CHEAPER suggestions on starting this first 'iconic' step would be greatly appreciated.
    By Post or PM I will check back in later - or hey just troll me for being an unAmerican cheapskate! (how can I live with out a phone fer chrissakes!)

  2. #2
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    Thru hikers have generally received, in effect, a "free pass" for a one night stay at Katahdin Stream campground. As of this year, thru-hikers need to register. There are threads here on Whiteblaze about the new registration requirements. I don't know if they've started asking for money from thrus, I kind of doubt it.

    You only need one night in the park. Arrive early, climb the mountain and return to KSC, then depart southbound the next morning.

    In a way it's good that you posted the above prices and rates -- I suspect a lot of thrus have, or had, no idea of what a great deal they were getting from Baxter State Park. Mere mortals pay big $$ for the privilege of climbing Katahdin.

  3. #3
    Registered User DavidNH's Avatar
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    Ideally, you will want to camp at Katahdin Stream (5.1 miles one way from summit of Baxter Peak) which is right on the AT. The climb of Mount Katahdin will take almost all day so you will need a camp site for two consecutive nights. Then it is about a 10 mile hike to Abol Bridge which is right before the 100 mile wilderness.



    The issue is in part that you can only camp in designated spots and Baxter State Park campgrounds are popular and are full most of the season. You may have a slightly easier time if you plan to start during mid week as opposed to during a weekend. Thru hikers coming north can camp without reservations at the birches but as a south bounder you don't have that luxury.

    You don't want to start earlier than about mid July due to the bugs and the high water levels and the mud you'd encounter in June.

    Incidentally, the park is a heavily regulated place and use of cell phones is either non existent frowned upon or even prohibited.

    To be honest I don't know how you can reduce the costs of camping in Baxter. But let me just say this.. you are going to embark on a 2200 mile five to six month journey where you will be in town once a week, staying at hostels, filling up at ayce restaurants, paying for shuttles, buying or replacing gear, and spending around 5 grand when all is said and done. And you are already miffed at having to shell out 50 bucks to camp for two nights? Seems to me you need an attitude adjustment. Well, the trail will take care of that.

    I have a hard time pulling up much sympathy for your situation here.

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    You're getting off cheap at that price. I flew into Bangor($250), cabbed to bus station($7), bus to Medway, ME ($12) where the AT Lodge picked me up. Super SOBO special($100), food drop in 100 mile wilderness($30), lean-to at Katahdin Stream Campground ($30). That's a total of $429 to step foot on the AT. I'm not complaining I new and expected this. Of course this doesn't count my $2500 plus in gear or airfair from AK to CO where I left for the AT from. Thruhiking is expensive and getting there is only a small part. It's worth every penny though. Good luck. Also, you don't have to register four months in advance. You can only register only so far in advance. If it's available you can register for any day.

  5. #5
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    Not sure why you'd need two nights at the park... or why you'd be concerned about parking fees, as a southbound thru hiker?

    Stay at a hostel or lodge outside the park the first night. Arrange for a shuttle early in the morning to KSC. Climb the mountain, come back down, stay at KSC that night and head south the next morning.

    I did it exactly as I've just described except that I stayed at the Daicey Pond shelter, which was the designated thru-hiker shelter back then.

    And relax. Baxter Park is pretty special, nothing quite like it anywhere else on the AT.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by rafe View Post
    Thru hikers have generally received, in effect, a "free pass" for a one night stay at Katahdin Stream campground. .
    This free pass doesn't apply to southbounders as they know when they will be arriving. The AT Lodge and shuttle is probably the best option. If you are getting driven up from Mass you will end up staying somewhere the night before you summit so might as well stay at the AT lodge and get a shuttle to KSC in the AM. This saves paying for a road pass and campsite fee. The second night in the park is recommended mostly since the odds of getting a good day to summit is about 1 in 3. No matter what the weather could force you to stay an extra day or two as there are days where the summit it closed or even if it is open it can be real nasty.

    You don't have to reserve 4 months in advance especially if you are flexible on starting dates. As mentioned bugs can be a major issue in June and into early July, except 4th of July week the park is not that busy. You can save a few bucks by booking a bunk space at KSC compared to a tent site and the bunkhouse has screens. The walk down the road to Abol from KSC campground is not very pleasant but for someone contemplating hiking to Springer it is definitely an option. In theory Abol trail will be reopened this year so you can hike up Abol and then down the AT.

  7. #7
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    With the lack of snow this year, the bugs may not be too bad. No water could be more of a problem.

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    The OP hasn't even started his hike and is already kvetching about phones and such.

    Get a cheap trackphone and load it (pay for minutes/texting) at a minimal cost. When you're through with your hike, give it to your local police department - they re-purpose them for domestic abuse victims. And who knows, God Forbid you need the phone for an emergency on the trail (or at home for that matter). What if you had a heart attack and were alone?

    Complaining about Maine residents and their paltry discount? Oh gee whiz, some states have reciprocal agreements about education - I don't know know if it's still true, but for the longest time New Englanders in states without a veterinary school could attend a vet school in another New England state without paying the hefty nonresident tuition.

    Skin-flintism begins at home. Don't let it follow you to the AT. You never know when you or another traveler will need to help each other.

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    Thanks everyone for taking time to help break this down into something I can better grasp.

    I do wish to enjoy the whole experience of Baxter Park I have seen other locations through Maine and it is all memories worth carrying along. So I do not want to rush out of the park so to speak. The Abol Campground seems very worth looking into. As Peakbagger points out a few extra miles is not something I am going to tally up as an obstacle.

    Same with the idea of taking a slot on a Bunk House. Exactly the info I am looking for on this.

    I will be getting a ride to Baxter vis. a family member so it is highly doubtful I will make a early morning arrival. This is why I have been recommended to get a two day reservation.. Also thanks very much for bringing up the bugs / water situation. This factor is what makes swallowing 'cooling my beans' more palatable and not just letting itchy feet carry me off half cocked. One of the main factors I have been warned about is the high rate of hikers that get pulled from the 100 mile stretch because of high water. I REALLY do not want to be that guy, which I am sure contributes to the high cost of maintaining the park.

    Also the start Mid week idea sounds very logical as well.

    Now I know I sound like a cheapskate. I am.. I am..

    I have a hard time pulling up much sympathy for your situation here.
    I understand this, also I ask not, nor want for it. It has no worth to me. Some suggestions on how to do it the way I would like to, do have a value. Options my friend are the spice of freedom.

    But let me just say this.. you are going to embark on a 2200 mile five to six month journey where you will be in town once a week, staying at hostels, filling up at ayce restaurants, paying for shuttles, buying or replacing gear, and spending around 5 grand when all is said and done. And you are already miffed at having to shell out 50 bucks to camp for two nights? Seems to me you need an attitude adjustment. Well, the trail will take care of that.
    So that's how you did things.

    I will not be staying in Hostels / hiker hotels. I will be avoiding the trail shelters as much as humanly possible except in areas where it is required to reduce impact. I will not be filling up at ayce restaurants.. I will be bringing some fishing hooks and line and have package drops scattered along the way. I have replacement gear secured already if anything fails other then the biological sort.

    Lastly I would like to see a short list of those people who do not need an attitude adjustment. Sometimes the trail is just not a cure all. Especially those snap judgment sorts. Not everyone believe it or not fits comfortably into the same box. You would probably not take me at my word or even believe me if I told you how much my over all cost of living has amounted to for the past 5 - 10 - 20 years.

    Trust me if there is a cheap or eve free way to do things I will find it... With some help of course!
    I am not spare changing you mate just asking for the sharing of some wisdom.

    Confucius: "Feed a man a fish, you only feed him for a day, Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."


    Thanks everyone for the very good ideas panning out of this.. and amusing opinions
    This whole site has garnered more realistic and useful information then months of searches on internet and library.

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    @Miel-

    Sorry I do not do phones.. I doubt a phone is going to be any help in that situation (its just my way)

    I am not giving Maine residents any ill regard, nor the forestry department, Baxter State park .. That's your own view / misinterpretation. (feel free to have such)

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Han Sobo View Post
    I will not be staying in Hostels / hiker hotels. I will be avoiding the trail shelters as much as humanly possible except in areas where it is required to reduce impact. I will not be filling up at ayce restaurants.. I will be bringing some fishing hooks and line and have package drops scattered along the way. I have replacement gear secured already if anything fails other then the biological sort.
    Good luck with that. There are few place on the AT to fish and where you can you need a fishing license which will cost you more then just buying food.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

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    Thanks. I plan on deviating from the trail in certain locations. I am very well aware of the legal system and the fish and game department.

    I have taken into consideration the cost adjustments between buying food at 'local' general stores compared to footing the extra distance to Krogers, or Food City, Walmart. Yeah I am aware of the political impact of buying from Walmart as well.. None of which helps with the topic.

    Appreciate the well wishes though!!

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    Are you saying your start is delayed to mid-July because all the Katahdin Stream campsites are full? Four months before your anticipated stay is the earliest you can make your reservation. I just called Baxter yesterday and made a reservation for July 2/3 and there were still other campsites availabile at Katahdin Stream campground.

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    No one of my own wrong interpretations was that it was required to sign up 4 months in advance. From some of the info I have gotten since, thanks to some of the members whom responded. I guess (not 100% sure) that 4 months is maybe how long in advance we can sign up to reserve a space. Sounds to me like even walk in's can sign up but is a total fly off the elbow crap shoot. (not recommended)

    I think I am going to shoot for a week day, beginning of July but after the fourth. Seems that holiday can be a high traffic time period. I am also still needing to look more into the Abol trail / campground. I would like to take that route up and over.

    Part of my original issue is my family members (still currently fighting over whom gets to drop me off) want to make the hike up Mt. K. with me and giving me a kick in the back side down the mountain. - Which is why parking is going to be needed

    I did register for southbound hike.. I will need to adjust that in next week or so. I did not as of yet reserve a camp slot but looks like a bunk at the Stream Campground is a decent most economic deal.

    *Please note: that the above posted pay rates is a direct cut/paste from their web site.(From original post).
    I think that is what is giving people the illusion I am / was trash talking Maine residents. The exclamation point on that graph is their own feature. as is the no parking fee which is not exactly typical everywhere. Most State parks unlike National parks do charge parking / camping fees. Even of their own residents.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Han Sobo View Post
    No one of my own wrong interpretations was that it was required to sign up 4 months in advance. From some of the info I have gotten since, thanks to some of the members whom responded. I guess (not 100% sure) that 4 months is maybe how long in advance we can sign up to reserve a space. Sounds to me like even walk in's can sign up but is a total fly off the elbow crap shoot. (not recommended)

    I think I am going to shoot for a week day, beginning of July but after the fourth. Seems that holiday can be a high traffic time period. I am also still needing to look more into the Abol trail / campground. I would like to take that route up and over.

    Part of my original issue is my family members (still currently fighting over whom gets to drop me off) want to make the hike up Mt. K. with me and giving me a kick in the back side down the mountain. - Which is why parking is going to be needed

    I did register for southbound hike.. I will need to adjust that in next week or so. I did not as of yet reserve a camp slot but looks like a bunk at the Stream Campground is a decent most economic deal.

    *Please note: that the above posted pay rates is a direct cut/paste from their web site.(From original post).
    I think that is what is giving people the illusion I am / was trash talking Maine residents. The exclamation point on that graph is their own feature. as is the no parking fee which is not exactly typical everywhere. Most State parks unlike National parks do charge parking / camping fees. Even of their own residents.
    What is "Stream Campground". If you are talking about Katahdin Stream CG, I don't think they have a bunkhouse.

    If you are referring to Roaring Brook CG on the North side of K (they have bunkhouses there) you will be going the route I took many years ago-- not so popular now for one rather good reason: hauling a full pack over Katahdin when your hiking muscles are not broken in sort of invites the possibility of injury (and secondarily because it's harder). Now, if you could have your relatives drive your pack around....

    Regardles of where you start your SOBO and spend the night prior, I am 100% convinced that most SOBOs would be best served by having a reservation for a site at Katahdin Stream CG for the evening they come off K.

    If the wisdom on that is not self-evident, I think you might want to get clarification from others on exactly what that is so.

    Have a great trip- SOBO is extra special.
    Last edited by rickb; 03-20-2016 at 15:47.

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    Okay thats a no on the bunk house.. Yeah I am still looking into all this. I will end up with the cheapest bargain I am sure...

    I will get my pack up that mountain.. And down again... at this point I am still even trying to talk myself into -" Oh yeah 20 miles on your first day.. You can totally do that!! Come on its just one mountain.. "..

    Yeah I know not to listen to that guy..
    If you are afraid of bears, then don't go into the woods dressed up and smelling like a berry bush.

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    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    Just so you are aware, the Hunt trail is the single largest elevation gain in the entire AT. 4188' in 5.3 miles and you can mostly discount the first and last mile, since it is comparatively flat. You may want to rethink the carrying a full pack up that Mountain. I talked to a SoBo hiker last year who was determined to climb Katahdin and once he got up there, he didn't have the energy or ambition to get himself down. He was still muttering when we left him at the summit to begin our descent. Talked to the Ranger Yves, at KSC when we got back (we went down Saddle trail) and it was dark and he still hadn't gotten back. I guess he made it down eventually.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Han Sobo View Post
    Okay thats a no on the bunk house.. Yeah I am still looking into all this. I will end up with the cheapest bargain I am sure...

    I will get my pack up that mountain.. And down again... at this point I am still even trying to talk myself into -" Oh yeah 20 miles on your first day.. You can totally do that!! Come on its just one mountain.. "..

    Yeah I know not to listen to that guy..
    Why hike 20 miles the first day? To be blunt, that is nuts.

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    Unless you're already conditioned for long-distance hiking, like you run ultra-marathon trail races on your weekends, the Katahdin summit takes most of the day. Don't end your hike before it begins!

  20. #20

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    Hmmh, I distinctly remember a bunkhouse at KSC in the past and I could swear at Abol at one point. Must have been hauled out or repurposed. Sorry for the confusion.

    My normal hiking territory is the whites so I am used to rocks. I also winter hike and my day pack weight ti just about what a thruhiker might carry (minus a big pile of food for the 100 MW). It is a long day up and back to the summit of Kathadin but should be well within the capabilities of a conditioned hiker. A full size pack will get in the way on the Hunt trail and leaving a full pack at the rangers station just makes it a far more pleasant hike and much nicer next day. In the past the stereotype of most SOBOs was that they are far more likely to have their stuff together than a NOBO out of springer. Not sure what the reality is but I sure got a chuckle one day reading the NOBO complaints at the next shelter north of dragons tooth in VA complaining how bad the trail was down Dragons tooth. In the whites that just a morning warm up.

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