The park is for mountain climbers, trail walkers, naturalists and campers, people who are willing to put up with certain primitive conditions.
- Pervical P. Baxter
Trails are the heart of Baxter State Park. They take us to fantastic views and give us the opportunity to see wildlife, wildflowers, and wild weather, too. The Park contains over 220 miles of trails, ranging from flat walks through lowland forest to steep scrambles through the alpine zone.
Those who work on trail crews know how much time and effort goes into maintaining a trail. Ask experienced trail crew leaders, and they’ll tell you maintenance is a huge challenge, especially in a place like Baxter State Park. It’s mostly dirty work done by hand. Moving one rock for a stone step can take hours. In the alpine zone, the window for accomplishing work is very narrow. Trails require a ongoing commitment to protect Park resources and provide safe, durable, and fun routes for hikers. In 2014, Baxter State Park spent an incredible 17,839 hours on trail maintenance - approximately 81 hours per mile of trail. Friends is committed to helping the Park maintain its trails in several ways:
Partnership with Maine Conservation Corps
Since 2009, Friends has provided nearly $250,000 in donated trail support to Baxter State Park through a partnership with the Maine Conservation Corps (MCC). With support from Maine's Recreational Trails Program, as well as LL Bean, Eaton Peabody, and the Davis Conservation Foundation, Friends hires MCC teams and donates their services to Baxter State Park. Teams have performed thousands of hours of maintenance work on popular trails like Saddle and Chimney Pond, and have carried out major relocations on Mount OJI and the Abol Trail.
Trails Inventory & Research
With support from the Davis Conservation Foundation, Friends funded the first-ever complete trails inventory of the Park in 2011. This exhaustive, GIS-based survey fully cataloged the Park's trail system - every stone step, bog bridge, and waterbar on over 220 miles of trails. This inventory has enabled Baxter State Park to be more systematic in its trails planning. It also enabled the launch of the Trautmann Trail Improvement Initiative, a ten-year, $800,000 effort to address the worst trouble spots in the Park's trail system.
Many Friends members are avid hikers and know the trail system well. We offer our voice on trails planning to help provide Park staff with the perspective of experienced Park users. Friends provided input as the Park developed trails in the Katahdin Lake area, and also advocated for the reopening of the North Peaks Trail, which was closed in 2001 and reopened in 2012.