Anyone who climbs and hikes in the Northeast who hasn't heard of Baxter State Park and Mount Katahdin must have had their head in the sand. It's an almost mythological destination with superlatives better suited to mountains in the western United States and a park bureaucracy that makes getting reservations almost as hard as having lunch with the Pope. And for anyone that has made the pilgrimage to the park, you'll understand just why so many people are in love with the park. Mount Katahdin is the reason that probably 90% of park visitors are in Baxter. The mountain is the highest mountain in Maine, it has a huge area of alpine tundra, the knife edge ridge is like nowhere else in the eastern United States and the North Basin was home to the east coast's last permanent snowfield (it finally melted in the 1800s want the reservation at roaring brook for the Kinfe's Edge.
No trip to Baxter would be complete without a traverse of the Knife Edge. This ridge, located between the summit of Mount Katahdin (Baxter Peak) and Pamola Peak is a mile long, narrow ridge, that in places goes down to about 3 feet wide. At it's narrowest point, an almost sheer cliff drops down into the Great Basin a Chimney Pond for a few thousand feet (it's a bit dizzying). The ridge is barren, exposed and above tree-line and will test just about anyone. In bad weather (high winds or icing), the park will close the route (they will also close other exposed trails) but even in good weather, the route can be intimidating for some.
A long grueling hike ... the hike is about 10 miles and should take 10 hours. The Helon (Hee-lon) Taylor trail is a long steep rise. The Knife edge is very rugged in places - the chimney is almost a technical climb. The Baxter peak side of the knife edge is a boulder scramble. The saddle trail has a 1/2 mile section of scree and is also very steep. A tough hike that you should be in shape for. The most difficult and time consuming portions of the hike are exposed and above treeline.
NOTE: Please read the description for this hike before RSVPing, it is strenuous and widely considered the best and most scenic hike on the East Coast, so its well worth the effort. I only ask if you RSVP, please be prepared with the day hiking basics to be "self sufficient" and hike with people that hike at your speed at all times.
Distance: 10+ miles
Total Rise: 3,800-4,000 ft
Estimated Time: 8-9 hours
Summit Elevation: 5,267 ft / 1,605 m
[masked], [masked] (Dec Deg)
[masked]E[masked]N Zone 19 (UTM)
Latitude/Longitude: 45° 54' N; 68° 55' W
Trailhead: Roaring Brook Campground 1489 ft/454 m
Vertical Gain: 3,779 ft / 1,152 m
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