Hiking Mount Katahdin is simply an incredible experience. As you approach Baxter State Park, you see off in the distance the rocky and steep slopes of the highest peaks in all of Maine. Most who come have read about, seen pictures or watched videos of hikers along the Knife’s Edge (I know I did). Anticipation of standing atop is nearly unbearable. No matter how many videos you watch, you will still be an awe standing atop. Whether you have hiked Katahdin 15 times, or are approaching the trailhead for the first time, excitement builds, and the views don’t disappoint (weather permitting of course).
Elevation: 5,269 feet (1,606 meters)
Elevation Gain: Around 3,900 feet (1189 meters) depending on the trail.
Distance: 8.6 miles (14.84 km)
Duration: 5-10 hours
Knife Edge – 1.1 miles connecting Katahdin and Pamola
This trail is ridiculously awesome. It features insane views in all directions, steep ledges, lots of rock scrambling, cliffs and sometimes even a little danger. Anyone without a fear of heights, and comfortable rock hopping and also comfortable with a short rock climb should do this trail. It is worth it. Keep in mind it is especially dangerous when wet, windy or cold.
Elevation Gain of 365 feet from Pamola to Katahdin
Abol Trail – 4.3 miles base to summit (3,900 foot gain)
The Abol Trail was a great trail up to the peak of Katahdin. It begins at Abol Campground within Baxter state park. It meets up with the Hunt trail near the summit. It is the shortest trail up to the summit and offers some rock scrambling, lots of exposed hiking and quickly gets you above treeline. The trail has no large stream crossings. Though it has quite a few steep sections, it certainly has less scrambling than the Hunt Trail.
Elevation Gain: 3,982 Feet
Hunt Trail – 5.2 miles base to summit (4,188 foot gait)
The Hunt trail is the last trail (or first) for AT thru-hikers. It begins at Katahdin Stream Campground and quickly reaches the summit of Katahdin. It features a beautiful waterfall 1.1 miles from the campground, quick access to the trail above treeline and tons of rock scrambling. The views are incredible the majority of the way up, and the rock scrambling is very fun.
Helon Taylor Trail – 4.3 miles base to summit
This is also another fantastic option up Mount Katahdin. This trail takes you from the ranger station to Pamola Peak, before joining with the Knife Edge. Hikers often take this route to do a large loop over to Hamlin Peak as well.
Dudley Trail – This trail is currently shut down due to unstable rock.
What Does Katahdin Mean?
Katahdin was given its name by the Penobscot Indians, that lived in the area. It means “the greatest mountain”. When you first lay eyes on the mountain, you can understand why, as the peaks of Baxter State park rise rapidly from the surroundings.
Baxter State Park Camping
If you plan to stay in or around Baxter State park for more than a day, you have many options. Not only can you stay within the park at numerous campgrounds, but surrounding towns have places you can stay. Many offer shuttles into the park. You can find all of the information you need about camping within the park here: https://baxterstatepark.org/camp-summer/
Northern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail
Mount Katahdin is the most northern point of the Appalachian Trail, making it the final destination for many AT thru-hikers. During the summer months, you will frequently see finishes posing on the summit sigh marking the end of the incredible 2,190+ mile journey they just embarked on.
Want More Info on Hiking Katahdin?
Take a look at this valuable resource on each trail up Katahdin: https://baxterstatepark.org/general-info/
If you have any questions regarding this hike or anything else. Don’t hesitate to reach our via the Contact page. Please share this post!
Max DesMarais is the founder of Hiking & Fishing. He has a passion for the outdoors and sharing experiences with others. Max is a published author for various outdoor websites and digital marketing websites. You can read more about him here: hikingandfishing/about