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Thread: Hiking In Maine

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    lots of people do this daily in the summer - check the weather, get to the gate a half hour before opening time - not that big of a deal
    I said, "tall order," meaning just that. Doable, if you show up early, are prepared, and up to the physical challenge. It's a lot of vertical, with a lot more restrictions vis-a-vis hours and access.

  2. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    lots of people do this daily in the summer - check the weather, get to the gate a half hour before opening time - not that big of a deal
    If you are planning a trip around this advice, good luck.

    First thing is the distance from Waterville. Plan on 2 hours to Medway (exit off I 95) then 1 hour to the gate. The BSP gate used to be open early but in the last few years 7 AM seems to be the norm. Using the prior posters advice, that means being at the gate at 6:30 AM meaning leave Waterville at 3:30 AM. This doesn't get you in the gate it just gets you to the gate. If there isn't a line, (there normally is) add in 45 minutes to get from the gate to the parking lots plus time spent at the gate.

    Weekends in August and September are quite busy. The park limits access to the three trailheads that have trails to the summit using a day use parking reservation (DUPR) for a specific parking lot. These are made in advance by phone or on the web. They typically sell out for weekends. DUPR folks go the head of the line at the gate and those who don't have DUPRs have to take their chances that all the DUPRs haven't been sold, if its during the weekdays you might get lucky and they will sell you one of the remaining DUPRs. If the are out of DUPRs you can wait and hope there is no show or you can drive in the park and go hike another summit. There is no option of just parking alongside the road outside the parking lots. The park actually has a "boot" and will have cars towed. There are some other really nice hikes in the park that are worth doing but I expect most folks want to climb Katahdin. Optimistically without a DUPR plan on 1 to 1.5 hours to get through the gate and to the trailhead parking.

    If you want to hike the AT, things get bit trickier. In order of popularity Roaring Brook on the east side of the mountain is the most popular, the second most popular is Katahdin Stream Campground (KSC)and the least popular is Abol (its still fills up on weekends). Drive in folks will try to get Roaring Rook and when its inevitably full, they switch to KSC, and then finally Abol. The AT (Hunt Trail) starts at KSC, you can go up Abol and down the AT back to KSC but it adds in a very dusty 2 mile walk along the main park road which is quite narrow and fairly busy.

    Optimistically you will be on the trail at 8 AM. How long it takes you to get to the summit is very dependent on your conditioning and comfort with boulder scrambling. Using the AT you have 4.2 miles to climb 4200 feet. The majority of the elevation change is about 3200 feet in less than 3 miles. Thru hikers zip up and down in less than 7 hours but they have had plenty of practice, typical dayhikers should plan on 8 to 10 hours. Optimistically without a DUPR, you started at 8:30 AM from the trailhead. That gets someone down off the mountain at 4:30 PM at the earliest but more likely 5:30 to 6:30 PM. Now add in another 3 hours drive back to Waterville. Odds are you will end up in ditch on the side of the road as you will be exhausted.

    Other things to factor in. Although the weather pattern stabilizes in the summer, figure one day out of three is going to be bad enough weather to make a trip up the mountain not very pleasant with minimal views. Even on a good day, the summit typically clouds in between noon and 1 PM. Odds are someone getting a late start due to not having a DUPR will get to watch the summit cloud in. The other issue during hot summer weather is the potential for summer thunderstorms which usually form after 1 PM.

    Obviously someone who isn't in the mood to plan is stacking the deck against a successful hike up Katahdin. The much better option is book a site at the park for at least one night preferably 2. Ideally you drive up the day before and hike the next morning. If the weather forecast is marginal for the next day you can drive up early in the AM and hike it that day. Your reservation acts as a DUPR for the campground you reserved. Ideally you get going up the mountain early in the AM preferably near sunrise. This should get you up on the summit around 11 AM before the biggest crowds and usually before the afternoon clouds form.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    lots of people do this daily in the summer - check the weather, get to the gate a half hour before opening time - not that big of a deal
    Worst advice ever.

    for someone not in through hiker shape, plan on 10 to 14 hours, up and back. Unless you like descending rock scrambles in the dark, you will need to start hiking before 7am.
    Last edited by egilbe; 12-11-2016 at 08:26.

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    Thanks for the backup, peakbagger.

    My friend and I learned some of this the hard way. We were at Acadia NP the day before. At sunset from the top of Cadillac Mountain, we wondered if we could see Katahdin off in the distance, decided to drive to Baxter and climb it the next day. Total impulse move. We drove all night (blew out my Toyota's head gasket in the process.) Got to the park mid-morning, and actually got in. We were young, and decent hikers by then. Ranger at the main gate politely discouraged us from trying to hike K, cited the various gotchas, suggested an alternate hike. We had a good look at the trail maps, the time, and our mental state, and did a nice hike of South Turner instead.

    Climbed Katahdin via Chimney Pond and Knife Edge the next summer, and the one after that, after going the official route. Snail mail, with a check, in January for a shelter reservation in July. (Or something outrageous like that.) It was worth it.

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    If you have the time, it is definitely worth it to stay in Baxter State Park for a few days, not only to give you an option to pick a nice day to summit Katahdin as peakbagger mentioned, but also because it is absolutely glorious. Not to mention the luxury of sleeping in the park after summit day rather than driving the inevitable 4 hours or more.

    My wife and I had the "pleasure" of driving back to the Boston area after summitting, along with our son and 3 others who had just finished their NOBOs, and all of their odoriferous gear. The fragrance at least kept the driver awake.

  6. #26

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    I have been driving to Baxter for at least 30 years and first set foot in it in 1969. Things have changed a bit over the years. Not so much in the actual park but the reservation system has changed significantly for the good. Baxter has a reputation with some folks in New England as being difficult to deal with. It is, compared to most of the other popular areas in the region as contrary to its name Baxter State Park is one in name only, rather it is Wilderness Preserve managed to be forever wild. It also is the only area with gates and entry fees to access the area. There used to be a burdensome mail in reservation system for campsites very clunky and odds of getting what you wanted was poor. The popular three Katahdin trailheads were gated off when full each day so the only option for dayhikers was parking in line very early in the AM to get one of the spaces or miss out on hiking Katahdin. Many folks pulled in around 4 AM and slept in their cars. The park realized they had a problem and put the Day Use Parking Reservation in place. That meant you needed to plan ahead but could usually reserve a parking space to day hike the summit at the parking lot you wanted. The park also put the reservation system on line and put in a rolling reservation system that makes it far more likely you will get your first or second choice. They also scaled back on abuse by "locals" who would block out entire campgrounds during popular weeks and weekends during "opening day" in January. Opening day still remains but there are limits on how many sites can be filled in (20%). This frees up more spaces for those who don't particularly want to drive to Millinocket in January. As an example I had a hankering to go climb the recently relocated Abol trail (a very nice piece of trailbuilding), I booked a lean to for Abol Campsite Friday night of Labor Day weekend and could have had a tent site there the rest of the holiday weekend. I did it directly off the BSP website about 3 weeks before. In the past the odds would be slim to none. We elected to do an out and back but we could just as well hiked up to KSC and done the Hunt Trail (AT) up and back down Abol trail.

    I have done several quick overnights to the park where I drove up the night before from NH (4.5 hours) stay in the park at a reserved campsite and dayhiked the mountain the next day then drove home. I survived it every time but it was definitely a challenge to stay awake when driving home.

    The campgrounds and facilities in the park are quite primitive, no electricity, no cell coverage or payphones, all drinking water is at your own risk (no public water supplies), no showers, no stores and pit toilets. If someone wants a bit more luxury there are campgrounds out side the park with varying levels of additional services. The trade off is they are more expensive and you have to put up with the DUPR system.

    In addition to the campgrounds the park has remote leantos that are located miles away from any other site. They are usually in very special locations, one of them has an entire basin on the side of the mountain complete with 5 alpine ponds and 1000 foot plus cliffs for about 320 degrees around the site. Another one is on a remote island in the middle of an entirely undeveloped lake, your reservation comes with a key to a canoe to paddle out to the island. These are not for dayhikers who just want to bag Katahdin but anywhere else, they wouldn't exist as they would be overrun. I sure wouldn't suggest trying for these spots to a newby but that's part of what makes it worth going to the park. Its definitely a place where it would take weeks to really appreciate all the special spots.

  7. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by KyHiker1971 View Post
    This will be a first for me-hiking in New England.
    I'd suggest blocking out some time to at least see Katahdin and Baxter for yourself. Maybe for a day or two before the Conference. It does required advance planning, but it's well worth it - especially after traveling from Kentucky!
    Teej

    "[ATers] represent three percent of our use and about twenty percent of our effort," retired Baxter Park Director Jensen Bissell.

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    Just updating this thread, I know it's been several months. I am registered for the ATC conference in Waterville, ME.
    As I expected, there are no hikes at Baxter, no doubt due to the logistic difficulties.

    I am, however, thrilled at the offerings, and very excited about the hikes I selected.
    The following are what I have chosen to hike, if anyone has any insight, feel free to join in to give suggestions.
    Saturday: AT from Caratunk to Moxie Pond Road Sunday: AT from Perham stream to Caribou Valley road. Monday: Bigelow Trail Range
    Tuesday: Frye Mountain Wednesday: Tumbledown Mountain Thursday: Bigelow Mountain hike (Avery Peak, West Peak, North/south horns).

    I've been hiking a bunch this year, and now trying to fit in some cardio/weights at the gym to trim down some more as I know that's six days of hiking in a different terrain. I've put myself through some challenging hikes, including a 19 miler from Eagle Creek Trail up to Spence Field and down Bote mountain in the Great Smokies. Also planning on doing a 14 mile day hike at Roan Mountain from Carvers Gap to US 19E.

  9. #29

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    All day hikes? Shuttled out of Waterville? All I can say is your going to be one very tired and sore puppy at the end of the week! The Bigelow traverse is the highlight of the hikes, be sure to save enough energy to do that one. Combined with shuttle time, every one of these hikes will be dawn to dusk.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    All day hikes? Shuttled out of Waterville? All I can say is your going to be one very tired and sore puppy at the end of the week! The Bigelow traverse is the highlight of the hikes, be sure to save enough energy to do that one. Combined with shuttle time, every one of these hikes will be dawn to dusk.
    All day hikes. I'm going to take it day by day. If I get to the point that I'm fatigued, I'll take a day off.

    I definitely want to do Bigelow. And I think Tumbledown looks fun. The other hikes were section hikes of the AT ( except Fryes and Tumbledown).

    All hikes shuttled from Waterville.

    Very excited for this, I've always wanted to hike New England. Hoping for some great weather (event is Aug 4-11).

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    Quote Originally Posted by KyHiker1971 View Post
    Just updating this thread, I know it's been several months. I am registered for the ATC conference in Waterville, ME.
    As I expected, there are no hikes at Baxter, no doubt due to the logistic difficulties.

    I am, however, thrilled at the offerings, and very excited about the hikes I selected.
    The following are what I have chosen to hike, if anyone has any insight, feel free to join in to give suggestions.
    Saturday: AT from Caratunk to Moxie Pond Road Sunday: AT from Perham stream to Caribou Valley road. Monday: Bigelow Trail Range
    Tuesday: Frye Mountain Wednesday: Tumbledown Mountain Thursday: Bigelow Mountain hike (Avery Peak, West Peak, North/south horns).

    I've been hiking a bunch this year, and now trying to fit in some cardio/weights at the gym to trim down some more as I know that's six days of hiking in a different terrain. I've put myself through some challenging hikes, including a 19 miler from Eagle Creek Trail up to Spence Field and down Bote mountain in the Great Smokies. Also planning on doing a 14 mile day hike at Roan Mountain from Carvers Gap to US 19E.
    i'm confused, you're hiking the bigelows twice? or youre dividing it in two?

    the whole thing can be done in one shot, though i might rearrange the schedule and do that first or second, not last.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdoczi View Post
    i'm confused, you're hiking the bigelows twice? or youre dividing it in two?

    the whole thing can be done in one shot, though i might rearrange the schedule and do that first or second, not last.
    Dividing it into two.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KyHiker1971 View Post
    Dividing it into two.
    think about just doing it one day, really. i did it in about 20 hours, including sleeping the night at horn's pond, while carrying a pack with a tent and 4 days of supplies.

    if you're out for dawn to dusk all out day hiking like it seems you are theres really no need to divide it. i think some of the other days you have planned would be harder.

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    My wife and I have attended ATC conferences several times and enjoyed each one.
    Meals, hikes, classes, lectures, entertainment, what's not to like?
    Enjoy yourself, and you might make some new friends too.

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    These are all organized group hikes right? If so, some thought must have gone into the planning.

    I don't quite see how they break it up into two trips though. A loop can be done from the Horns to West peak via the Horn's pond trail and Old Fire wardens trail. Avery peak would be an optional side trip. I've done this loop a couple of times, but as an overnighter at Horn's pond shelter. It's a really cool place to spend the night. It will be a hard day as a day hike. But the views from up there are worth the effort.

    The Bigelow Range trail comes up the ridge direct from Strattion (old AT?) and joins the AT about 2 miles south of Horns Pond. (and 700 feet below it). At that point you could come back down the AT to the road, or climb up to the pond and then down Horns pond trail. This loop will also be a serious work out.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    those southerners don't really know mountains until they get to Northern New England. This is where thru hikers really earn their stripes!

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    That Bigelow Mountain hike looks very ambitious, especially since they added North Horn to it. A Bigelow Traverse is 17 miles. Through hikers can do it, I would break it up into two days with a night at Horns Pond or Avery campsite.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidNH View Post
    those southerners don't really know mountains until they get to Northern New England. This is where thru hikers really earn their stripes!
    Unfortunately for me, that's very true. I do most of my long hikes in Tennessee and North Carolina. Maybe higher elevations, but alot gentler going up. Also, and again unfortunate for me, there is no ideal way to simulate the type of hiking that I will encounter in Maine. I could hike off trail in the Smokies and climb some of the rocky sluices that go up Mount LeConte, but I'm not a big fan of going off the highway, so to speak. Instead, I'm hitting the gym more frequently and doing the elliptical and other stationary bikes with the elevation jacked all the way to the top. Lucky for me, I've developed a nasty case of bronchitis, so that puts me a good 1-2 weeks behind in conditioning.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LIhikers View Post
    My wife and I have attended ATC conferences several times and enjoyed each one.
    Meals, hikes, classes, lectures, entertainment, what's not to like?
    Enjoy yourself, and you might make some new friends too.
    Really looking forward to this conference. It's really awesome that it's in an area of the country that I've longed to see.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    These are all organized group hikes right? If so, some thought must have gone into the planning.

    I don't quite see how they break it up into two trips though. A loop can be done from the Horns to West peak via the Horn's pond trail and Old Fire wardens trail. Avery peak would be an optional side trip. I've done this loop a couple of times, but as an overnighter at Horn's pond shelter. It's a really cool place to spend the night. It will be a hard day as a day hike. But the views from up there are worth the effort.

    The Bigelow Range trail comes up the ridge direct from Strattion (old AT?) and joins the AT about 2 miles south of Horns Pond. (and 700 feet below it). At that point you could come back down the AT to the road, or climb up to the pond and then down Horns pond trail. This loop will also be a serious work out.
    There are two different offerings as far as Bigelow. I'm going to read straight off the trail description.

    1. AT/Bigelow Trail Range. Leave parking lot on ME 27 hiking north on AT. Take Bigelow Range Trail at 3.2 miles, ascend Cranberry Peak, with spectacular views of Carrabasset Valley, including the Bigelow Range. Ridge walk with views of Flagstaff Lake, then descend to trailhead on curry Road in Stratton. Pass Arnold's well and The Cave during descent. 8 miles hike

    2. Bigelow Mountain hike. Ascend Firewarden's Trail to Bigelow Col. Hike North to Avery Peak and then back south to col and then to West Peak, North and South Horns and Horns pond campsite. Take Horns pond trail to lower Firewarden's trail and out to trailhead. 360 views into Canada, Katahdin to the NE. 14 miles.

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