South Turner Mountain (Baxter State Park)
In his excellent book Hiking Maine's Baxter State Park, author Greg Westrich notes two important things about South Turner Mountain - it's strenuous and you are likely to have it to yourself. Both turned out to be true when I hiked the mountain this morning.
I drove to Baxter last night and stayed over in a lean-to at Abol Campground. I woke early and arrived at the Roaring Brook trailhead by 5am, being the only car in the day use lot. I headed out on the trail with a headlamp and hiked up the mountain without encountering another person.
The first part of the hike is flat and runs adjacent to Sandy Stream Pond. The final mile becomes challenging as it ascends rapidly and becomes boulder-strewn. The views from the top make the effort worthwhile, and although Katahdin was partially covered by clouds it was still a beautiful view.
I encountered one other group of hikers on my descent but otherwise had the trail to myself. I stopped at several of the view points for Sandy Stream Pond on my way back since I had passed them in the dark when I started, and added the 0.8 mile Roaring Brook Nature Trail to my hike at the end in hopes of seeing a moose. The day use lot was full when I returned to my car, likely with people hiking Katahdin.
This was an excellent hike.