MindFire Press

Katahdin Stream Falls

Maine Hiker's Journal

Season 2 (2014) 

Chapter 12: Katahdin Stream Falls

 

In the spring of my first hiking season, I experienced the grandeur of the pristine 200,000 acres of Baxter State Park, and I knew I was destined to become a hiker. Later that summer, I actually hiked a section of the AT, reinforcing my love of hiking. In this second season, I was, therefore, excited to return to Baxter, this time to hike another, more famous section of the AT, the first part of the Hunt Trail to Katahdin Stream Falls. The Hunt trail begins at Katahdin Stream Campground (elevation = 1100 feet) and ends 5.2 miles later, after a very strenuous climb of over 4000 feet, at Baxter Peak, the summit of Mount Katahdin (elevation = 5,268 feet).

In contrast to the previous visits to Baxter described earlier chapters—A Walk in the Park, and The Appalachian Trail—when the weather was beautiful, this time I was not so fortunate. The rain that had fallen before my visit to the park continued, off and on, the entire time I was there in early June. Undaunted, I set out to reach and explore Katahdin Stream Falls, my primary goal for this hike. My secondary goal was to continue to hike until I reached my turn around time of 2 hours to explore more of the Hunt trail, which steepens after passing the falls a little over a mile from the trailhead.

The first part of the Hunt trail, which parallels Katahdin stream, rises gently enough and on a dry day would not be taxing. However, the wet rocks underfoot made the going slower than I expected. Furthermore, when I crossed the bridge at the lower end of the falls and turned uphill, I encountered my first obstacle, and it was a major one. A very large slab of rock outcropping covered the entire trail, making the only option, as indicated by the white AT blaze on the rock surface, to climb it and walk along its surface for some considerable distance. On a dry day, this would not have presented any particular challenge. But on this damp day, the rock was wet and extremely slippery, causing me to expend considerable time and energy in surmounting it.

When I finally made it over this obstacle and I arrived at the falls, I took the time to take some pictures and rest at this very picturesque spot just off the Hunt trail. A quick time and energy check, plus a noticeable increase in rainfall, led me to conclude grudgingly that my hiking day was done. With one last glance up the rock staircase that invited me in such an enticing way to continue up the trail, I reluctantly turned around, made my way carefully down and off the rock outcropping and then enjoyed a leisurely stroll back to the campground. [Check out the photos in the slideshow below of the views of and from this beautiful Maine trail. To move from one slide to the next, just click the directional arrow on the side of the picture.]

This little outing definitely whetted my appetite for more AT hiking, particularly the Hunt Trail. On one of my first visits to Baxter, a very pleasant park ranger at Katahdin Stream Campground had suggested that while I was smart not to imagine that I could summit Baxter Peak without considerably more conditioning and hiking experience, I would enjoy the hike to Katahdin Falls (which I did), and could set as a realistic goal of reaching the tree line and experience the amazing views from that vantage point without needing to climb to the top of the mountain. This made total sense to me. Since then, completing this challenging hike to the tree line (a 6 mile round trip) has been my ultimate goal. I know I can do this and look forward to sharing the pictures with you when I do.

Fresh from my hike to Katahdin Stream Falls and eager to try a more substantial one, I set out for my first hike in New Hampshire on Hedgehog Mountain. Why I decided to go there and what I experienced on this very challenging hike I relate in the next chapter of Maine Hiker’s Journal—Hedgehog Mountain.

Click Hedgehog Mountain to read the next chapter.

Click Maine Hiker's Journal to return to the home page of the journal.


 

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