National Scenic Trails - Appalachian Trail
|The Appalachian Trail|
In its 281 miles across Maine, the Trail, marked throughout with vertical white-paint blazes, passes through an extensive wilderness at a great distance from towns and cities. The Katahdin region at the northern terminus is outstanding.
The Trail in Maine may be roughly divided into three segments:
1) The 120-mile eastern segment from Katahdin to Monson is characterized by disconnected mountains, lakes, ponds, streams, and pleasing forest growth. Easy to travel, it is the most isolated except at the termini.
2) The second segment, from Blanchard to Mt. Bigelow, is of historic interest. The first part involves more exertion, but the remainder affords the easiest travel in Maine.
3) The western segment is an area of rugged, steep, 4,000-foot mountains with many ascents and descents. Opportunities for canoeing and swimming are features of the Trail in Maine.
Much frequented and well known, the White Mountain region and the White Mountain National Forest are the main features of the Trail in New Hampshire. Trails of the Appalachian Mountain Club are followed for the most part. Much of the trail is above timberline, where temperatures may change suddenly. A trip here requires intelligent planning and you should allow ample time. The connecting link between the Green and White mountains, the Dartmouth Outing Club section of the Trail, passes through broken terrain of alternating mountains and valleys east of the Connecticut River.
West of the Connecticut River to the Green Mountains, the route is through high, rugged country of abandoned and overgrown farmlands and woodlands. From Sherburne Pass south, the Trail follows the lower 101.3 miles of the Green Mountain Club's famed Long Trail along the crest of the Green Mountains.
The Trail here leads through a series of wooded areas and valleys in the Berkshire Hills. Mts. Greylock and Everett are outstanding Trail features in Massachusetts.
The route through Connecticut meanders among the worn-down remnants of a much loftier mountain range and presents greatly varied scenery. Main features are the Housatonic Valley and the Taconic Range.
New York and New Jersey
From Connecticut to the Kittatinny Ridge in New Jersey. The Trail's terrain is less wild than to the north. Palisades Interstate Park is much-frequented. Along the Kittatinny Ridge the Trail is rugged and more remote than elsewhere in these states.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
Appalachian Trail - Maine Highlights
- Trail Stats: 281.4 Trail Miles, 32 Hiker Shelters
- If you’ve heard or read anything at all about the Appalachian Trail (AT), you almost certainly know of 5,267-foot Mount Katahdin. The wooden sign at Baxter Peak represents the northern terminus of the trail, where most thru-hikers end their 2,000-plus mile journey. Should you summit Katahdin in August or September, there is a good chance you’ll find one or more thru-hikers screaming, crying, or sitting in stony silence next to the sign. It represents the culmination of five to seven months worth of endurance, pain, and emotion. For the casual hiker, the sign represents a riveting five-mile, 4,000-plus foot ascent up the most extreme climb of the entire AT. For those in “trail shape,” the trip is unforgettable. Hikers out for a weekend trip will want to start up the mountain early, for this is an all-day affair. Mount Katahdin is in Baxter State Park and is only open for hiking a few months of the year, so competition for campsites is fierce. Plan your trip well in advance to avoid disappointment or a total let down.
- Just south of Baxter State Park is a section of trail affectionately known as the 100-Mile Wilderness. From Monson to Abol Bridge, there is nary a road, aside from one or two logging roads, and the sense of isolation is all too real. All manner of wildlife call this region of Maine home, and from atop Bigelow Mountain, there is nothing to see but miles of forest on all sides. Sound too good to be true? Believe it, especially once you experience all of the great swimming opportunities, as the trail skirts by a new pond at least a few times a day. No houses, docks, boats, or people are around to ruin this backcountry swim. Few things are as refreshing, and you will be hard pressed to find a section of the AT that is as remote, pristine, or beautiful.
- No mention of hiking in Maine is complete without alluding to their state bird, the mosquito. These heathens are tireless vampires, especially at night, and can drive some people mad. Their partners in evil, the black flies, elbow their way in for access to every inch of exposed skin, picking up any slack the mosquitoes might afford. But don’t worry, they settle down at night. If you plan to hike in Maine, expect the worst and be pleasantly surprised, but don’t be caught unprepared. Bug deterrent and appropriate bug netting are the best way to guarantee an enjoyable trip—and your sanity. The best way to avoid them is to travel in before the last freeze (which presents its own challenges). As a general rule, the flies come out after the last freeze, starting with a swarm and tapering out to a still-annoying cloud by mid-summer, while the mosquitoes bother you through summer and fall. Plan accordingly.
- Recommended 3- to 4-Day Trip: The problem with hiking the AT in Maine is also the reason it’s so glorious: Precious few roads cross the trail so you can access it. This 34-mile route provides a delicious taste of Maine backcountry, with views of the stunning Baldpate peaks and Bemis Range along the way. Be on the lookout for moose, bear, loons, and chatty red squirrels, as this is about as remote as you can get in the eastern United States. Four hiker shelters are available in this stretch of trail and ample water sources. If you have an extra day or two to spare, go south of Grafton Notch about seven miles and you’ll reach the Mahoosuc Notch, the toughest mile on the AT. It’s only one mile long, but it’s through a boulder field, and is incredibly fun. Just keep an eye on the time, as it’s probably the longest mile you’ve ever hiked. Directions: Maine 26 (Grafton Notch) north to Maine 17 near Oquossoc.
Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers' Companion (Appalachian Trail Conservancy)
Appalachian Trail: Georgia | North Carolina | Tennessee | Virginia | West Virginia | Maryland | Pennsylvania | New Jersey | New York | Connecticut | Massachusetts | Vermont | New Hampshire | Maine
Appalachian Trail - Maine Travel Q&A
What's your favorite hike? Where's the best campsite? Join the conversation! Ask Your Question