We arrived at Baxter shortly after 11am and as to be expected for a summer Saturday it was very crowded. Parking for many day use areas was full.
Our first hike was Sandy Stream Pond and the Roaring Brook Nature Trail. The Sandy Stream Pond trail has amazing views of several nearby mountains. On the way back we decided to do a side trip onto the nature trail. We were surprised to find large amounts of fresh moose scat on the trail, and while we didn't see any moose, the possibility of spotting one added to our excitement.
For our next hike we did the Daicey Pond Nature Trail and the Little and Big Niagara Falls Trail. The trails share the same parking lot near the Daicey Pond Campground. The nature trail circles the perimeter of Daicey Pond and like most lakes in the park has great views of nearby mountains. The trail to Little and Big Niagara Falls follows the Appalachian Trail to two very beautiful waterfalls. There were three other groups of people visiting Little Niagara - two families swimming under the falls and a solo fly fisherman fishing nearby. A short distance further down the trail was Big Niagara Falls, which we had all to ourselves. The trail led us near the top of the falls. We hiked a little further and after a little work were able to get out onto some rocks near the base of the falls for better views. On our way to the falls we briefly spotted a mink running adjacent to the trail.
We finished the day at Nesowadnehunk Field Campground. The campground is located in a grass field, which allows for excellent views of the mountains.
We woke early and drove to Daicey Pond to watch the sunrise. We then headed to Kidney Pond to hike the Sentinel Mountain Trail. To access the trail we hiked along Kidney Pond for 0.7 miles, during which we spotted a pair of pileated woodpeckers and enjoyed views of Katahdin and Mount OJI from across the pond. The Sentinel Mountain trail then splits off and heads away from the pond. The first section of trail travels up and down through woods. The trail then begins a relatively steep climb, although no rock scrambling is required. The trail then emerges at the summit, offering incredible views of the major mountains of Baxter State Park, including Katahdin, The Owl, Mount OJI and Doubletop Mountain. A moderately challenging loop trail around the summit provides nearly 360 degree views of the surrounding countryside. This hike was more challenging than we had expected but it was well worth the effort.
We made our way to South Branch Pond Campground, which would be our home for the next two nights. The campground sits right on beautiful South Branch Pond in the north section of the park and is surrounded by mountains. We spent the afternoon relaxing on the lake and recovering from our morning hike.
After dinner we hiked the short (one mile round trip) trail to South Branch Falls. The stream has worn away a sluice in the rocks producing a small but beautiful waterfall.
After watching the sunrise on South Branch Pond, we hiked the Pogy Notch Trail to Upper South Branch Pond. The trail was relatively flat and easy. After a brief stop and the.pond, we headed back and stopped by Lower Howe Falls. These are a series of beautiful falls a short distance off Pogy Notch Trail.
That afternoon, we rented a canoe and paddled to Upper South Branch Pond. This required us to drag the canoe through a shallow connecting stream.
We took a drive that evening after dinner and spotted a bull moose walking along the side of the road.
We left Tuesday morning out the north gate of Baxter and on the way home explored the north end of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.