Mt. Katahdin is the highest mountain in Maine. Mt. Katahdin, harsh and at times unforgiving, dominates the vast remote wilderness of Baxter State Park and is located in Northern Maine, about 25 miles northwest of Millinocket.
Mount Katahdin lies within Baxter State Park. The Park was the result of Percival P. Baxter’s vision. Over 200,000 acres of mountains, lakes, streams and forest were given in trust to the people of Maine. He wanted to guarantee access to Maine’s wilderness and resources while preserving its’ unspoiled natural state. Baxter Peak (5,268′), the summit of Maine and northern end of the Appalachian Trail, is the highest point in Maine.
Charles Turner accomplished the first recorded climb in August of 1804. Today, Baxter Peak is the final goal of the hikers on the Appalachian Trail of their 2,100-mile journey. It is this journey from Georgia to Maine, which makes this destination the focus of Baxter State Park and Mt. Katahdin.
Beginning with the purchases of Katahdin, Percival Baxter ultimately spent over thirty years acquiring the land surrounding, “Greatest Mountain,” which he then gave to the people of Maine. More than 200,000 acres, now known as Baxter State Park, are protected by The Katahdin Trust, which designates that this land be used “for a state forest, public park and recreational purposes …forever to be left in the natural wild state… forever kept as a sanctuary for wild beasts and birds…”¹
The only way for the area to remain essentially as it was during Native American habitation would be for us to return simply and humbly. On this score, the administration of Baxter State Park has stood alone for many years, a bulwark against exploitation of the park. There is a reservation system, there are one-lane dirt roads, chemical toilets and no souvenir stands. The advent of the camper, trailer, and snowmobile era resulted in the institution of tighter vehicular control when it became evident that the machines were detrimental to the park. Campers, trailers, trail bikes, and motorcycles are now banned and not allowed through the gates.²
The Park and Mountain region includes an impressive variety of animals and unique plant life indigenous to its area. One needs to view and experience first-hand the wonders and beauty that exists in this region of Maine. Words cannot begin to describe the range of emotions experienced when in the midst of such natural beauty. Percival Baxter would be proud to see his dream being enjoyed, as he so wanted.
The Wabanaki Connection to Mt. Katahdin
It is on Mt. Katahdin that the Wabanaki people see the sun’s first rays. The Wabanaki know the Spirit of the light and welcome each new dawn as it comes to the land. As their ancestors did, today’s Wabanaki look to Katahdin as a sacred place where the Spirit roams freely and powerfully.
For the Wabanaki, Mt. Katahdin is central to all their beliefs and experiences. It is where Mother Earth reaches out to the sky. To go to Mt. Katahdin is to experience the spiritual aspects of Wabanaki life at its source, to feel the interconnectedness of oneself with that of ancestors and future generations.
There are several approaches to Mt. Katahdin, but the most picturesque is that which leads from the East into the South Basin, where is located Chimney Pond, a beautiful sheet of water, which among ponds, is as unique in its coloring and setting as Katahdin is among its sister mountains. This pond is surrounded on the South and West by a grand amphitheatre of perpendicular cliffs rising from 1,500 to 2,000 feet. The water in this remarkable pond is so clear and cold that fish cannot live in it, and it is as uninhabited as the salt brine of the Dead Sea. Its surface mirrors the ever-changing aspects of the clouds and the multi-colored cliffs towering around it. These cliffs are gray, blue, pink, or brown, according as the atmosphere changes from hour to hour, or as the position of the sun is altered (From: Mount Katahdin State Park).
Maine is famous for its 2,500 miles of seacoast with its countless islands, for its myriad lakes and ponds, and for its forests and rivers, but Mountain Katahdin (Baxter State Park) will be the State’s crowning glory, a worthy memorial to commemorate the end of the first and the beginning of the second century of Maine’s statehood. This park will prove a blessing to those who follow us, and they will see that we built for them are wisely than our forefathers did for us.³
The Baxter State Park Authority website provides information on camping and reservations, rules and regulations, hiking and climbing trails, weather conditions and map of Baxter State Park. For reservations, you may contact the Reservation Clerk at the Baxter State Park Information Center located at 64 Balsam Drive in Millinocket, Maine or call (207) 723-5140.
Percival P. Baxter
About Mt. Katahdin
Mt. Katahdin in Maine
Mt. Katahdin Peakware
Baxter State Park Authority
Maine Appalachian Trail Club
Appalachian Trail Conservancy