- Kathadin winter scene Photo Courtesy of Alice Frati
Hiking Tips & Wilderness Considerations
Those of us who work for Baxter State Park cherish the land we manage and hope you will strive to respect both the land and its inhabitants during your visit here.
Carry In/Carry Out
All trash and garbage, including cigarette butts, plastic wrappings, disposable diapers, orange peels, banana peels, etc., must be taken out of the park with you when you leave. Campgrounds can provide small litterbags for this purpose.
Please be sure the sound levels and activities of your group are suitable in a wilderness park where the majority seek solitude and quiet.
Wildlife should be enjoyed but from a distance. Remember you are a visitor. The Park is the animal’s home– please follow our guidelines for wildlife photography in the Park.
Avoid leaving the trail to pursue animals into the woods. Rangers can help you learn more about the best places and times to see animals. Used with respect and care, this knowledge can enable you to take pictures without unnecessarily disturbing species during critical times (i.e. egg incubating, birthing, etc.)
A reminder: it is against Park regulations to feed any animals, under any circumstances. "Please keep our animals wild and healthy!"
- Plan hikes with the intention of finishing in daylight, but ALWAYS carry a flashlight as a precaution. See BSP Rule 2.2.
- Extra food and clothing:
- Candies, nuts or dried fruit in addition to your lunch and liquids. Also wool/pile shirt and/or sweater, hat, extra socks, and raingear.
- Sturdy footwear:
- TTrails are rocky and footing is difficult. For your safety, be sure footwear is adequate. Tennis shoes are not suitable for mountain climbing.
- First Aid:
- Supplies, such as bandaids, ace bandages, and mole skin, to take care of you and those hiking in your group. Most common first aid problem: Blisters!
- Map/Guide Book:
- Know your route; plan alternatives for bad weather.
- Cell Phone:
- A Cell Phone is a valuable wilderness tool for emergency communication. Keep it turned off and stowed in your pack.
- Other suggestions:
- Compass, matches, foil emergency blanket, whistle, parachute cord, knife, pack repair kit.
Always carry water (at least 2 quarts/person when climbing any of the mountains). Trailside springs are unreliable, as are any named "springs" denoted on maps of Katahdin. The only water available inside the Park is from open, unprotected sources and requires either filtering or treatment for your safety.
Safe HikingSafe travel in a wilderness setting demands self sufficiency and good judgment. Your primary goal and responsibility is to return to your car/ trailhead by the end of the day.
Keep this goal first and foremost in your mind rather than focusing on reaching the peak or setting personal distance/speed challenges.
- Remember that when you leave the trailhead, the responsibility to Hike Safe is yours.
- Sign in/Sign out at trail head registers.
- Stay on the Trails. Since 1963, there have been 19 fatalities on Katahdin alone (and numerous lost person injuries), 80% of which were caused by people leaving the trail. Staying on the trails also helps us preserve the flora throughout the park, which is especially fragile in the alpine zone above treeline.
- Turn back if bad weather or darkness approaches. Allow equal time for descents as for ascents. Have a turnaround time (midway between the time you start and when the sun sets) chosen before you climb.
- Choose routes wisely and consistent with the abilities for the least experienced group member.
Carry a cell phone but keep it turned it off except in cases of emergency (phone batteries wear down in BSP due to continually searching for mostly non-existent towers). In the event of an emergency, if you are in a location with a signal (usually above treeline, but not always above treeline), your battery will be ready and if you do succeed in reaching us, it may save many hours of search effort.
With good planning and an eye to the sky, you should get below treeline before a storm arrives. Please Remember: If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning! At the first sign of lightning or the first sound of thunder— Get below treeline immediately! For complete guidance visit our lightning safety page.