- Katahdin, Maine’s tallest mountain, is by far the most prominent feature of Baxter State Park. Hikers from around the world are drawn to its granite crags each year, and for good reason. Several trails lead to summit of Katahdin, but all trails are extremely challenging. Preparation is key. To learn about the hike, as well as camping and parking, click here. To see a video of a hike up Katahdin, which includes a trek across the mountain’s famous Knife Edge, click here.
- If looking to hike a less-traveled mountain in Baxter, check out the Mount Coe-South Brother loop, a two-mountain trek that brings you to amazing outlooks of the park. For a video and description of the hike, click here.
Moose are abundant in Baxter State Park. Keep an eye out for them wading in park ponds, especially in shallow areas where they eat vegetation. One great place to find moose is Sandy Stream Pond. To learn about the pond and getting a “moose pass,” click here.
- The Debsconeag Ice Caves, just outside Baxter State Park, is a fascinating place, where ice and snow can usually be found, even in the midst of summer. To get there, it’s just a short hike through a mossy forest filled with boulders. And if you get hot, hike a bit farther to First Debsconeag Lake for a dip. To watch a video and learn more, click here.
Eat & Drink
- River Driver’s Restaurant, Fire Road 20D, Millinocket — The best restaurant for miles around, River Driver’s offers salads, burgers and hot sandwiches for lunch and dinner, as well as classic seafood dishes and, usually, a good quality steak for those with a trail-made hunger. Nice wine list, too, and a beautiful building to boot, just off the beaten path.
- The Appalachian Trail Cafe, 210 Penobscot Avenue, Millinocket — The best thing about the Appalachian Trail Cafe is the people — you’ll meet thru-hikers eager to share trail stories, as well as day-hikers eager to listen. Excellent breakfast in a homey atmosphere, and a good lunch service too.
- Pelletier Loggers Family Restaurant, 57 Penobscot Ave, Millinocket — The food is pretty good, but more importantly, you can grab a drink, rub elbows with the locals, and get your groove on to DJs and bands on the weekends. Oh, and the folks from the Discovery Channel show “American Loggers” run the place, and you just might be able to say hi to some of them if you stop in to visit.
Shop & See
- Moose Prints Gallery, 58 Central Street, Millinocket; and North Light Gallery, 256 Penobscot Avenue, Millinocket — Two beautiful galleries in downtown Millinocket, both showcasing the work of Maine artists and photographers. Moose Prints focuses more on nature photography and artwork, while North Light offers paintings and locally-made art from area artists.
- Hannaford Supermarket, Central St., Millinocket — If you want to stock up on trail supplies before you hit the park, make sure you do it here, rather than waiting until you get to Baxter and realizing the stores there have way less selection and it costs twice as much.
Places to Stay
- Stay in the Maine woods in style at 5 Lakes Lodge, a luxurious bed & breakfast on a peninsula on South Twin Lake, overlooking Katahdin. Just 7 miles west of Millinocket, the lodge has just five rooms. Rates range from $175 to $275.
A unique wilderness retreat can be found at Katahdin Lake Wilderness Camps, established in 1885 at the south end of the pristine Katahdin Lake, which offers an amazing view of Katahdin. This area has long been the destination of famous artists, and it remains an popular artist retreat today. To get there, you have to hike in 3.3 miles on a well-marked trail. There, you’ll stay in a rustic cabin and eat delicious homemade meals made from supplies flown in by plane. Lodging rates range from $15 per night to $125 per day, depending on your age, whether you’re a Friends of Baxter member, and if you cook your own food or opt for a meal plan.
- Twin Pine Camps is a year-round destination of 16 cabins on the shores of Millinocket Lake, just a few miles from the southern entrance of Baxter State Park. Enjoy the luxury of having hot showers, flush toilets, electricity and WiFi while listening to loon calls and enjoying a stunning view of Katahdin. Canoes and kayaks are available, and there are also areas for volleyball, basketball and horseshoes. You can cook your own food in your cabin kitchen or dine at the River Drivers Restaurant & Pub, which is on premises. Cabins, which house 6-14 people, vary in cost from $305-$839 per night, with discounted weekly prices.
- Camping in Baxter State Park typically means making reservations far ahead of time, but there’s nothing quite like staying in the quite and seemingly ancient wilderness of Baxter. Yet another option is to camp just outside the park at one of the many local campgrounds. Wilderness Edge Campground, for example, offers 32 RV sites and 70 tent sites on Millinocket Lake, just a few miles from the south entrance of the park. Tent sites are $10 per person; RV sites, $30 for up to four adults; and the bunkhouse is $15 per person.
Special times to visit
The Trails End Festival, set for Sept. 12-14 this year, in Millinocket. Three days of food, hiking, canoeing, a parade, art and music from the Mallett Brothers Band and Emily Guillow. A celebration of North Woods living.
- Northern Timber Cruisers annual Truck Pulls, Saturday, Sept. 20, at Millinocket Airport. Hang with the locals, watch trucks pull heavy things.