Katahdin Trails Will Open June 15; Baxter Park Warns of Wet Conditions
The Hunt/Appalachian Trail on Mount Katahdin, the Northern Terminus of the AT, will open Saturday, June 15, enabling SOBO hikers to begin their long-awaited journey from Katahdin to Springer Mountain.
“Expect wet conditions on all park trails,” Baxter State Park, home to Katahdin, posted on its Facebook page on Thursday, June 13. “When encountering snow, mud, or standing water do not go off trail or around—go through. It is part of your responsibility as a hiker to maintain and sustain our trail system.”
Abol, Hunt (and Owl), Hamlin Ridge, North Basin, Northwest Basin, and Chimney Pond trails will open on June 15. The park said two large sections of the Chimney Pond trail still have snow, including a four-foot deep snowdrift at basin pond.
Some trails in the park remain closed, but should not affect thru-hikers.
The news from Baxter in late May that the mountain was closed left thru-hikers scrambling to rearrange their plans for an early June start southbound on the Appalachian Trail.
Late snow and high water runoff were behind the reason to keep trails closed until June 15.
“I have received a couple of phone calls from hikers who are changing their plans a bit,” Hippie Chick at Shaw’s Hiker Hostel in Monson, ME, said in an email in late May. “One hiker in particular is traveling from Montreal and since his plans are set he is going to start in Monson and hike north and then shuttle back down to continue south.”
She said Shaw’s was working with the Appalachian Trail Lodge in Millinocket, ME, to help organize hikers to either hike south from Abol Bridge and then shuttle back to hike Katahdin or hike north from Monson and then shuttle back to hike south, depending on their preferences.
In addition, river crossings in northern Maine were reported to be high because of the spring runoff from snowmelt.
The Monson Appalachian Trail Visitor Center posted the following advisory on its Facebook page in late May: “We use the USGS gauge at the Piscataquis River in Blanchard (a few miles south of Monson) as an indicator of what the fording conditions are likely to be in the Hundred Mile Wilderness. We expect fording to be difficult when the gauge is above 200 cfs (cubic feet per second, a measure of stream flow). As of today, it was above 300 cfs—indicating challenging and potentially dangerous conditions. Yesterday, there were reports of recent hikers (including our ridgerunner Carla) who decided not to attempt some of the fords in the southern portion of the Wilderness because they appeared unsafe; the gauge would likely have been in the 400-600 cfs range when the hikers turned back. You can check current conditions by googling ‘usgs piscataquis river at blanchard, maine’ (we’re sorry that we can’t share a direct link, but when we’ve tried to do so in the past, there has been a glitch that has directed those clicking on the link to another location).”
There were also reports in late May of deep but passable snow in the Barren-Chairback Range and on Whitecap Mountain, both in the 100-Mile Wilderness south of Katahdin.
Campground openings in Baxter were delayed until late May.
Baxter posted the following statement on the condition of the Hunt Trail/Appalachian Trail to the Katahdin summit to its Facebook page on May 22: “Aside from the massive amount of water and sediment making its way down the trail there is also the issue of snow. As you reach the 2.5 mile mark you’re hit with a corridor that’s socked in with roughly 2 feet of snow. Conditions are fairly hazardous and again have the potential to do a lot of damage to the natural resources in the area.”
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