Appalachian Trail Journal - Preparing for Katahdin - Abol Bridge

The first few days on the trail present quite a challenge for the South Bound A.T. hiker.  

  • Day #1 Climb Katahdin and descend right back down to where you started
  • Day #2 Hike 10 miles over very wet biting bug filled terrain to the Abol Bridge area
  • Day #3 Start the 100 Mile Wilderness


Examining the first day a little closer here is what I am up against:

The highest mountain in Maine, Mount Katahdin is an irregularly shaped mountain mass, its largest peak being Baxter Peak, which summits at 5,267 feet

Hike up  to Baxter Peak via the Abol Slide Trail

Following a large slide up the southwestern side of Katahdin, the Abol trail is said to be the oldest route to the summit of Baxter Peak.

Beginning at the tote road at the Abol campground, this path crosses through the campground, entering an old tote road, to a tributary of Abol Stream, continuing along the southern bank of the stream for 0.6 miles, then turns to the northeast (right), away from the stream, and then sharply to the right. At 1.3 miles, you will come across a gravel wash of old Abol Slide.

Climb the slide, to reach a more recent slide at 1.9 miles. At this point, the slide becomes steeper and entirely bare.

When you reach the tableland, paint blazes will mark a trail leading 0.1 miles to Thoreau Spring and the Hunt trail. Take that path, turning to the right onto the Hunt trail, continuing northeast through easy slopes to the summit of Katahdin. Many hikers will use the Abol and Hunt trails as a circuit, going up one and down the other.

  • Distance to Baxter Peak from the Abol campground via Abol trail 3.8 miles

Hike back down Katahdin on The Hunt trail to Katahdin Stream Campground

The Hunt trail, a white-blazed trail, denoting the official route of the Appalachian trail, climbs the mountain from the southwest. The trail begins at the Katahdin Stream campground, following the northern side of Katahdin Stream. At 1.1 miles, it passes the trail to Owl Mountain on the left, then crosses Katahdin Stream and, soon after that, there is a sidetrail to Katahdin Stream Falls.

The trail then enters a spruce forest. At 2.7 miles, you'll see two large rocks that form a cave that is capable of providing shelter for up to four people in bad weather. About fifty yards from the cave, there is a spring, although it is sometimes dry.

The trail continues through spruce growth, emerging into a bare, steep crest, known as the Camel's Hump. The trail goes on, winding through large boulders, crosses a wide shelf, and ascends steeply for a half mile over broken rock to the open tableland, at 3.7 miles, where two slabs of rock mark the "Gateway."

Continuing east, following the white blazes, you will come to Thoreau Spring, at 4.2 miles, where you can usually find water. At this point, Baxter Peak Cutoff goes to the left, reaching the Saddle in 0.9 miles. To the right, the Abol trail descends 2.8 miles to the Abol campground, while the Hunt trail continues to ascend northeast for one mile to Baxter Peak.

  • Distance From Baxter Peak to Katahdin Stream campground via the Hunt trail 5.2 miles


This plan is entirely contingent on weather and conditions on the tablelands. if it is too wet or ugly they won't let hikers on the mountain. 

I am equally excited and afraid of this first day. I will have a good friend starting the hike with me so the support will be there but I am not in very good shape only having two months to prepare so it should be a massive challenge for me.