The 2018 SoBo’s Guide to Baxter and Katahdin

Your first stop for official info: Baxter State Park.

Join the Appalachian Trail SOBO 2017 , the Appalachian Trail SOBO 2018 , or the  Appalachian Trail SOBO 2019 Facebook groups!
The name of the mountain is Katahdin, the summit is Baxter Peak.
The famous sign isn’t on the peak – go tag that 12 foot high cairn!

The AT is called the Hunt Trail from Katahdin Stream Campground to Baxter Peak. The traditional start for sobos is a there-and-back-again climb from Katahdin Stream Campground to Baxter Peak.

The ATC has a registration program for those attempting AT thru-hikes. A very useful tool for planning and distributing information. Please visit ATC here.
Share – the bus ride, the shuttle, the campsite – save $, make friends.
Kennel that pooch! No dogs allowed in Baxter state Park. I recommend Katahdin Critters and Connie McManus.
Bring cash, as Baxter Park does not accept debit or credit cards.
Your bus gets in many miles away from the Park at 7:40 PM. You are not going to camp in the Park that night.
Contact the AT Lodge in Millinocket about their MEGA deal, they’ll pick you up at the bus stop, put you up for the night, shakedown your gear, and take you to KSC the next morning.
Getting a ride into the Park? There’s a fee at the gate – bring cash – $15 for an out-of-state vehicle.
The Abol Bridge store does accept mail-drops. However they may not open until late-May – contact them personally well in advance. Whitehouse Landing in the 100 Mile accepts maildrops – send at least ten days in advance!

Bring bug spray and a head net. I suggest long sleeved shirts and long pants.

Watch the snow melt here:…am-camera1.php
(Just because you can’t see snow doesn’t mean Katahdin trails are open!)
Katahdin summit weather:….C&issuedby=CAR
Baxter State Park 7 day forecast:…2#.VwMpRnpKltR

You’re not going to climb on May 15th, the traditional date for the park to open to overnight camping.
Plan your start for later, closer to Memorial Day. With the heavy and late snows we’re getting this year I recommend the second week of June to guarantee Katahdin trails will be open.

My list of dates for when a trail to Baxter Peak opened:

’17 Park delayed opening some campgrounds, Hunt and Abol open May 27th.
’16 The Hunt Trail opened on May 27th
’15 Park delayed opening some campgrounds. Hunt open May 22nd. (Summit snow on the 23rd!)
’14 Park delayed opening some campgrounds until May 22nd. Hunt open May 29th.
’13 May 24th
’12 May 20th
’11 Park canceled traditional May 15th opening, Abol open Memorial day weekend.
’10 May 25th
’09 May 20th for both Hunt and Abol.
’08 Park canceled traditional May 15th opening, Abol and Hunt open May 29th.
’07 May 31st

Think hard about your gear and food. Baxter has no garbage cans, no tap water, no system to send gear home, no camp store to buy gear, food, or fuel. There’s no electricity, or telephones.

Please book a site for the night before and after your climb. (If you stay with the AT Lodge, just one night is needed.) You can get a pre-tourist start in the AM, and you get to recover from the AT’s hardest 10.4 miles around a campfire with your brand new life-long friends. The long hike out the next day to Hurd Brook Lean-to can be a slog with tired legs, so relax and get a well deserved good night’s sleep. NOTICE: Camping and Day Use Parking Reservations cannot be completed on a mobile device – use a PC or call HQ
Reservations can be made starting four months in advance. Want June 1st and 2nd? Make that call on February 1st!
The Birches site is not available to southbounders.

At Katahdin Stream Campground:
Tent sites 16 and 17 are roomy, plenty of space for two or three backpacking tents.
Lean-tos 1-3 are quiet walk-ins, lean-tos 4-8 are streamside and away from the parking area. Photos of sites at Katahdin Stream can be found on the Sobo ’18 Facebook page.(Pro-tip: tentsite 16 is the northernmost site on the AT!)
Reservation information:
The reservation office will expand its hours to 7 days a week starting in May.

Buy a bundle of firewood at the Ranger’s cabin. Cash only, you can also buy maps and guides.
Sign your first AT register while you’re on the Ranger’s porch! You can also weigh your pack, which will be at its highest weight of your entire trip as you enter the 100. Borrow a daypack for your summit.screenshot_103
Wait until the Ranger posts the 7 AM weather forecast and trail conditions at the trailhead before you start. Sign out at the trailhead before heading up Katahdin.
Cell connections are rare on the AT in Maine. Do not count on getting reception until Monson.
Local FM radio station is 94.9. You can hear the weather report at the top of the hour all the way to Whitecap.
Talk with the Ranger, read all the posted information and warnings, and get your 2018 Sobo AT permit card stamped!

Use the new bear cable set-ups for hanging your foodbag! If you’re car camping, keep all food/smelly stuff locked in your can when not in use.

If Katahdin trails are open, please use extreme caution to stay on the trail above treeline. The habitat you’re climbing into is extremely rare and fragile.

After you hike out the next day plan on a stop at the Abol Bridge Store and campground.
Great new owners, lots of snacks, limited re-supply*, and good cooking! Abol Bridge Campground & Store will reopen Memorial Day Weekend for the 2018 summer season.
*Seriously – do NOT plan on buying your 100 Mile Wilderness food here.


Next stop: Monson! The best trail town on the Appalachian Trail! Plan a zero or two here. Shaw’s, the most famous hostel on trail awaits. Lakeshore House, Spring Creek BBQ, the ATC’s Monson field office, a wicked nice new General Store, and a friendly Post Office too! Pro-tip #1: Do NOT bounce a box ahead to Caratunk, you’ll probably hike there before your box arrives. Pro-tip #2: Check in with the great folks from the ATC, they’ll have up-to-date trail conditions and ferry schedules for the Kennebec.


Have fun on your ME-GA hike! – TJ



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