Baxter State Park, ME: Mount Katahdin via The Knifes Edge

Summit Maine's highest mountain on this 10-mile loop in Baxter State Park.
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Summit Maine's highest mountain on this 10-mile loop in Baxter State Park.

You could climb 5,268-foot Katahdin in a day (as many hikers do). But Densmore has a weekend itinerary that sidesteps parking-lot crowds—and includes lakeside camping at Chimney Pond (reserve four months in advance). From the Roaring Brook Campground, take the Chimney Pond Trail 3.3 miles to your lean-to below Katahdin’s steely cliffs.

Next morning, begin a strenuous, 4.6-mile loop on the Dudley Trail, scrambling over car-size boulders up 2,000 feet in 1.4 miles. Top barren, 4,919-foot Pamola Peak and check for signs of storms before braving the Knife’s Edge, a 1.1-mile ridge only three feet wide in places, with 1,500-foot drops. Snag summit views of primeval forest and glacier-carved cirques before heading back to camp on the slightly mellower 2.2-mile Saddle Trail.

Contact: Baxter State Park, Millinocket, ME; (207) 723-5140; baxterstateparkauthority.com

-Mapped by Ryan Villano

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 16.1

Waypoints

TKE001

Location: 45.920393, -68.857852

Begin hiking east at the Chimney Pond Trailhead - you'll find it in the Roaring Brook Campground.

TKE002

Location: 45.921005, -68.878655

Gain 500 feet of elevation in 1.1 miles as you hike alongside Roaring Brook.

TKE003

Location: 45.920528, -68.893847

Less than a mile from TKE002, the trail continues to climb 400 more vertical feet. Here, trek around the southern shoreline of Depot Pond.

TKE004

Location: 45.916113, -68.911269

At mile 3.3, reach your lean-to below Katahdin’s steely cliffs for lakeside camping at Chimney Pond (reserve four months in advance). Next morning, prepare for a strenuous, 4.6-mile loop on the Dudley Trail.

TKE005

Location: 45.905927, -68.905993

Scramble over car-size boulders up 2,000 feet in 1.4 miles to crest barren-top, 4,919-foot Pamola Peak.

TKE006

Location: 45.90527, -68.906422

Check for signs of storms before braving the Knife’s Edge, a 1.1-mile ridge only three feet wide in places, with 1,500-foot drops.

TKE007

Location: 45.902642, -68.911743

Follow the trail southwest - it holds steady at 4800 feet for .3 mile. Next up: a 400-foot elevation gain to Baxter Peak.

TKE008

Location: 45.904523, -68.921871

Snag summit views of primeval forest and glacier-carved cirques atop 5,200-foot Baxter Peak.

TKE009

Location: 45.907838, -68.927708

Lose 400 feet of elevation as you being your descent, and the 2.2 mile - slightly mellower -hike back to camp on the Saddle Trail.

TKE010

Location: 45.913422, -68.932557

After .4 mile, continue as the trail switchbacks and takes a sharp turn to the east. The trail continues to descend for about a mile.

TKE011

Location: 45.916408, -68.915305

In .2 mile, join back up with TKE004, and retrace your steps to the trailhead.

Katahdin from Chimney Pond

Location: 45.915034, -68.912129

Summit over Chimney Pond

Location: 45.914974, -68.911743

Chimney Pond

Location: 45.914885, -68.911142

Chimney Pond

Location: 45.914765, -68.910799

View from Pamola Peak

Location: 45.906136, -68.905909