Photo Credit: Adele Wise

About Baxter State Park

Baxter State Park is unique. Not really a “state” park, it was a gift to the people of Maine from just one person, Percival P. Baxter. The Park covers 209,644 acres in northern Maine, encompassing its own mountain range dominated by Katahdin, Maine’s highest mountain. It is administered by a special three-member Authority. Baxter State Park is independently funded and receives no taxpayer dollars.

To Percival P. Baxter, the resources — the land and the animals — were primary, and people were secondary. A continuing effort to live up to this important resource-first and people-second requirement is the guiding philosophy of Park management today. Visitors are responsible for their own safety in Baxter’s wilderness.

Camping

Baxter State Park is a camper's paradise. The Park offers a range of accomodations, from rustic cabins to remote backcountry sites. Explore camping opportunities in the Park >

Lean-to at Wassataquoik Lake

Hiking

With over 220 miles of hiking trails, Baxter State Park holds both charm and adventure for the hiker. There are dozens of trails, from gentle paths through lowlands and along brooks and streams to challenging scrambles along narrow granite routes high above timberline. The Park publishes a series of downloadable Trail Maps to help visitors plan their hikes in the areas surrounding several popular campgrounds. These maps do not cover backcountry areas of the Park. Several excellent maps of the entire Park are available for purchase.

Hiker on Center Ridge, Traveler Range. Photo by Aaron Megquier

Nature Exploration

For many visitors, wildlife is one of the highlights of a visit to Baxter State Park. The Park is home to many of Maine's large mammal species, including moose, white-tailed deer, black bear, and lynx. Birdwatching is often excellent, with many boreal and otherwise unusual species. The park is home to 857 species of plants, and contains the greatest concentration of rare and endangered plants in Maine.

White-tailed deer. Photo by Ross Knowlton

Fishing

Fishing opportunities abound in Baxter State Park. Some are readily accessible while others are remote and require long hikes or boat trips. Motorboats are allowed on Matagamon and Webster lakes. Outboard motors of 10 h.p. or less are permitted on Upper and Lower Togue ponds. Most streams and some brooks have good to excellent brook trout fishing, as do many ponds. Special rules apply within the Park, so be sure to check the State of Maine Open Water Fishing Regulations.

Native brook trout. Photo by Bill Bentley

Paddling

Although hiking brings most visitors to Baxter State Park, paddling opportunities in the Park are excellent as well. Canoes are available for rent at most campgrounds and many remote ponds at the rate of $1 per hour. Paddle-in campsites are available on Matagamon Lake and South Branch Pond. Webster Stream offers a popular canoe route for experienced canoeists. Paddling is often one of the best ways to get a view of the surrounding mountains, and is excellent for nature observation as well.

Paddling on Abol Pond. Photo by Karen Hosking

Mountaineering and Technical Climbing

Many excellent alpine and wall climbs can be found on Katahdin and adjacent peaks, especially in the glacial cirques known as “basins.” Because some of the climbs are very remote, early starts with the anticipation of long days are required. A good headlamp and spare batteries are as important as your climbing gear. Climbing parties are required to check in with the ranger at the nearest trailhead. Cut-off times for departure vary with location and season. For more information, please visit the BSP technical climbing page.

Technical climbing in the South Basin. Photo courtesy of Bill Bentley.

Winter Use

Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, mountaineering, ice climbing, and camping are popular winter activities in Baxter State Park. Snowmobiling is permitted on the Park Tote Road only and is not allowed elsewhere in the Park. With visitor numbers a small fraction of the summer months, opportunities for solitude abound, but severe weather conditions demand experience and careful preparation from visitors. The Park becomes much more remote in the winter, with vehicle access much further away. Please see the BSP winter use page for more information. The Park also publishes a Winter Use Map that contains important information for winter visitors.

Katahdin Summit in Winter. Photo by Jon Campbell

Scientific Forest Management Area

In his planning, Percival Baxter set aside 30,000 acres in the northern part of the Park for the practice and demonstration of modern commercial forestry methods. Called the Scientific Forest Management Area (SFMA), this section has hiking trails and campsites, is open to hunting in season, and includes active forestry operations and hauling roads. It is a popular fishing area early in the season. Learn more about the SFMA >

Mature red spruce in SFMA. Photo by Jym St. Pierre