Two moose in a northern New England Pond

©Paul Tessier/Shutterstock

Baxter State Park

Top choice in North Maine Woods

One of Maine's most stunning protected areas, Baxter State Park is a verdant wilderness encompassing nearly 210,000 acres. Some 215 miles of trails draw hikers in the summer, and snowshoers in the winter. Mt Katahdin, at 5267ft, is the highest peak in Maine and the end point of the 2190-mile Appalachian Trail. There are numerous other mountains to climb, as well as waterfalls, streams and lakes (canoes are available to hire for $1 per hour).

The park has two entrances: the more commonly used Togue Pond gate in the south (located about 18 miles northwest of Millinocket), which also has a visitor center near the entrance; and the Matagamon gate in the north (around 27 miles northwest of tiny Patten).

There are eight campgrounds accessible by road in the park, plus three backcountry campgrounds and numerous other individual backcountry sites spread throughout the park, as well as cabins, bunkhouses and lean-tos.

Baxter has extensive hiking trails, several leading to the top of Mt Katahdin, which can be hiked round-trip in a day as long as you're in good shape and get an early start.

Many of the park's rules and policies differ from those at other Maine state parks, so do a bit planning before visiting. In order to protect the park from overuse, day use is limited by the capacity of trailhead parking lots. Parking lots for the most popular Katahdin-access trailheads fill very early (by 6:30am) on sunny summer weekends. You'll need to reserve a space ($5) at the most popular day-use lots using the Day Use Parking Reservation (DUPR) system on the park website. Reservations can be made anytime within 14 days of your visit.

Entrance to the park is free for Maine residents.

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