by Tom Seymour (Falcon Guides)
© Tom Seymour/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
Do not underestimate Katahdin. We tried to hike to Baxter Peak via Cathedral trail in 2016 and only made it half-way before running out of steam. A year later, and after some much needed physical training we successfully climbed Katahdin via Cathedral trail, hiked/scrambled along Knife Edge trail and down Helon Taylor. This was the most rewarding hike I have ever completed. The views were spectacular and the park staff was very friendly. If you decide to do this hike, be sure to stop at Chimney Pond to take in the view from there as well. If you have the slightest fear of heights, Knife's edge is not for you.
This review describes the second half of a combination hike of two unforgettable day hikes. Two days after completing the Franconia Ridge Loop, we took the old jalopy up into Maine, to tackle the Knife Edge. We stayed at the venerable Baxter Park Inn.
We set out in darkness, as I wanted to make it to the trailhead by Dawn, with plans to make it to the Pond by Sunrise. The weather was perfect! We weren't. I took too many breaks, as usual. We got to the pond by 9:30 am. The ranger hut was occupied, and told us that we would likely be in darkness if we were to go up the Cathedral Trail to Baxter Peak, across the KE to Pamola, and then down via the Helon Taylor. No problem!
The Cathedral trail rivals Huntington Ravine in scrambling. The views are amazing. Danielle shed a few tears on the way up. I shed a bunch of calories. Bill was in his usual Gazelle mode, and was taking pics while drinking various purchased liquids.
Baxter Peak always is quite the accomplishment. We had some cheese and jerky, then contemplated the Edge. After ascending the Cathedrals, we were pretty satiated with adventure. Then there's the KE. No argument- we had to do it!
We were blessed- not a crosswind over 20 knots in any direction. The uh-oh moments were predictable, yet not too precarious. That is, not until the downclimb before Pamola!
Once we reached Pamola, we were exhausted! The sun was starting to cast shadows ahead of us towards Chimney pond. I almost wished I had packed enough gear to spend the night up above treeline- it was so beautiful. The surrounding mountains and terrain were truly showing off for us. We descended into treeline as the sky turned from azure to violet, then finally to black. On came the headlights, except for mine, which had spent batteries! Small problem.
We eventually made it back, but were too late to celebrate that evening. That was fine; the hike itself was celebration enough.
What a spectacular hike. I parked at Roaring Brook Camp Ground and took Helon Taylor to Knife Edge to Saddle to Chimney Pond Trails for a 9.85 mile circuit, Weather was unusually beautiful. And to top it all off I met a moose in the trail just below Chimney Pond!
What can you say - maybe the best trail in the East?
Expansive views and the knife edge is spectacular. Not a good place to be in rain or lightning storm though.
This is the best most difficult hike I have ever done so far. We stayed overnite at Roaring Brook Camp area. The weather was partly cloudy and in the 40s. We used the Helon Taylor trail up it is a tough and rocky trail. You will need your hands to climb up. It snowed alittle and the wind was increasing. Got to Pamola and it cleared up in time for knife edge the views where the best I have ever seen on the east side of the Mississippi. We took knife edge very slow because of the wind using your hands and alot of rock hopping. Made it to Baxter peak by mid day. We decided to take the Saddle trail back down to merge with Chimney Pond trail this was steep in the beginning then a steady rocky desent down. Bring at least 3 liters of water with you, you will need it. The last 2 hours on this hike was in the dark using head lamps. Have fun it is worth the pain!!
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