Let’s cover some ground today on the highest peak in Maine, and we’ll do it without breaking a sweat. No climbing required—just reading.
The first recorded instance of someone reaching the summit of Mount Katahdin came in 1804, a feat accomplished by Charles Turner, who estimated the mountain was 13,000 feet high. (It’s actually 5,267.) The native Americans who had hunted and fished around Katahdin for centuries believed a storm god named Pamola lived on the mountain, shaped its weather, and might eat anyone who tried to reach the summit.
Greg Westrich, who lives in Glenburn, has climbed Katahdin eight times and hiked more than 200 of the park’s 215 miles of trails. “In the last 2 years alone,” he writes, “I’ve hiked almost 400 miles in Baxter,” which is not surprising since he was working on a book that is now available called “Hiking Maine’s Baxter State Park: A Guide to the Park’s Greatest Hiking Adventures including Mount Katahdin.” Westrich offers detailed information on 37 day hikes and three backpack hikes, trips that will take you to every corner of Baxter’s 200,000 acres.
What makes Baxter different from every other park in the eastern U.S. is its remoteness, its rejection of modern amenities (no electricity, paved roads, running water, garbage cans, motorcycles or RVs) and the sheer grandeur of Katahdin. “Know your limits and hike accordingly,” Westrich advises. “Be prepared for the worst and enjoy whatever nature and Baxter gives you.”