Baxter 4 Day Trip (Mount Katahdin Hunt Trail, Kidney Pond canoeing, Draper & Deer Ponds Trail, Kidney Pond Cabins and Short Pond Walks)
Matty, Ryan and I spent three nights and four days in Baxter State Park this week.
Thursday (check-in and Draper & Deer Ponds Trail)
We arrived at noon on Thursday and checked into the Bear's Den cabin (#2) at Kidney Pond. For a rustic cabin, it had all that we needed:
* a double bed and two single beds in two separate rooms, each wrapped in a sealed waterproof mattress cover (bring your own sheets, blankets and pillows);
* wood stove, gas lantern, Adirondack chairs, tables and chairs inside, and a food prep table outdoors;
* safety equipment (CO and smoke detectors, fire extinguisher); and
* it's own fire pit with grill cover and a picnic table;
There is no electricity and the only water is from Kidney Pond (it must be treated before drinking and soap is not permitted in the park).
After getting situated, we did a short flat three mile hike from the cabin to Draper and Deer Ponds. We returned along the Slaughter Pond Trail and then the campground access road The hike was scenic with views of mountains across the ponds and although we didn't see moose we did see evidence of moose along the trail.
Friday (Mount Katahdin via the Hunt Trail)
We woke at 5 am on Friday to hike Katahdin via the Hunt Trail. In the book Hiking Maine's Baxter State Park, the trail is described as the easiest way to ascend Katahdin. A 10 mile round trip with 4284 feet of elevation gain and a lengthy stretch of rock scrambling, it is still a very strenuous hike.
The initial mile to Katahdin Stream Falls is relatively flat and provides no indication of what lies ahead. The falls are beautiful (note the actual falls themselves are up around the bend and not what you see from the bridge) and there is an outhouse and some benches here as well. After passing the falls, the trail begins to climb, gradually at first and then steeply. Once reaching tree line, the boulder field starts. Although I'm afraid of heights, there were only a handful of areas that I was uncomfortable with. There are a few sections with rungs, including one with something akin to a chinup bar in a crevice that you need to lift yourself up and over while feeling as though you are dangling close to the edge of a cliff. The boulder field is a little less than a mile long, but takes time to navigate. Strong winds above treeline add to the challenge.
Once reaching the tablelands, it's approximately a mile to the summit, starting flat but climbing at the end. Despite it being a Friday, there were a significant number of people at the top.
I liked the Hunt Trail much better than Abol Trail, which I had hiked a few years ago. Abol is shorter but very steep and there are significant drops where it looks like you are climbing down a sheer cliff. Although intellectually I knew there was a 10 foot shelf underneath, when I hiked Abol I felt like I was at risk of plunging 500 feet should I make a misstep. Hunt Trail is more gradual and although it was hard work, there were only a few panic inducing spots.
Here is a map of our hike.
Saturday (soreness, short pond walks, and canoeing Kidney Pond)
We woke Saturday sore from hiking Katahdin. We spent the morning visiting several ponds close the road (Tracy, Abol, Rocky, Caverly and Stump) in search of moose and the afternoon canoeing Kidney Pond (map here). We headed over to Daicy Pond to experience the sunset.
We left Sunday morning, stopping at a few ponds on the way out in our ongoing quest to find moose.