Portland, Maine: Mount Katahdin via Hunt Trail - Backpacker

Portland, Maine: Mount Katahdin via Hunt Trail

Hike, climb, and scramble your way up the final five miles of the Appalachian Trail and be rewarded with the best views in Maine.

As I prepared to visit Mount Katahdin for the first time, I began scouting routes to the summit but quickly came to the conclusion that I really had no choice other than taking the famed Hunt Trail to the top of Maine. BY MATT MILLS

When planning to climb to the northern terminus of the Appalachain Trail, I thought, how can one choose against taking the Appalachain Trail itself all the way up? Katahdin's Hunt Trail takes climbers up to the top of the peak and also doubles as the final 5.2-mile stretch of the fabled 2,200-mile AT.

Following the AT's signature white blazes, I hiked, climbed and scrambled my way up the Hunt Trail on a picture-perfect July morning. I discovered quickly that this trail is not to be taken lightly - it presents challenges of all kinds and is relentless in its uphill climb.

Big boulders presented themselves early on in the hike, serving as a sign of things to come. I reached the infamous section of the trail that has iron rungs securely attached to boulders (to aid climbers) in good time, only to realize that there was over a half-mile of steep scrambling to go to reach Katahdin's storied tableland.

Once walking on the tableland, I knew the summit was in reach - and could see it not too far in the distance. Bluebird skies lit the way the entire up and down, making routefinding a non-issue.

Have I mentioned how excellent the conditions were on this day? The conditions were so good, in fact, that I spent more time hanging out on the summit than any other peak that I've ever bagged. After a good hour on the summit, I turned around and retraced my steps to the Katahdin Stream campground.

Hike Stats
Distance: 10.5 miles
Elevation change: 4,250 feet
Time: 7.5 hours
Distance from Portland, ME: 3 hours
More info:Hiking Katahdin via Hunt Trail

1. Arrive early in order to get a parking spot at the Katahdin Stream trailhead. Parking is limited and lines often start forming before dawn at the park entrance in the busy summer months.
2. Dress in layers. Weather on this mountain can turn drastically and quickly.

Mile 0.0: Begin hiking on the Hunt Trail, following the AT's white blazes alongside Katahdin Stream.
1.1: At the junction with the Owl Trail continue straight on the AT.
2.2: The trail turns more rugged, introducing some large boulders - a sign of things to come.
3.0: Begin the steeper, exposed, scrambling portion of the climb.
3.75: Reach the tableland, Katahdin's mysterious alpine wonderland.
4.2: At Thoreau Spring (and the junction with the Abol Trail), continue following the white blazes for the final mile to the summit.
5.2: Reach the summit of Katahdin and the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

1. The best views possible in the state of Maine.
2. Take in the history of this famed trail.
3. Hike the final 5 miles of the AT that so many worn out soles have been on before.

This Trip
Month: July
Weather: Bluebird day; Clear skies and temperatures in the 70's and 80's; Only light winds
Group: Solo
More info:Hiking Katahdin

Trail Facts

  • State: ME
  • City: Portland
  • Distance: 0.0
  • Land Type: State Park