What Is Hiking?
In general, hiking is outdoor recreation. Go hiking means you will walk a long distance, usually on tracks through forests or on mountains. In Canada and the United States, the term ‘hiking’ mentions long-distance walk in the suburbs, usually on tracks, which requires much effort and energy.
Hiking in modern life
Life is becoming more modern and convenient with the appearance of many skyscrapers, restaurants, offices, grocery stores, pubs, and bars, which are created to meet human needs. However, along with the modernization, people face more pressure from all fields, which causes psychological issues, especially among young people.
Therefore, coming to nature is a trending activity nowadays to find peace in mind and balance in life. The terms hiking, trekking, and backpacking are becoming more popular with many people. How about you? Have you ever tried to learn about hiking?
Where to go hiking in the US?
If you live in the New England region of the US, particularly in Maine or surrounding areas, Baxter State Park is the place you should visit when you plan to go hiking with your friends.
Why Baxter State Park?
Baxter State Park is a sizeable wild state park located in Piscataquis County, which received the main sponsor from the land donation of Percival Proctor Baxter, an American politician whose hometown is in Maine. Percival Baxter wanted to make the Park become a place where nature lovers can have time and space to get closer to nature.
Of all parks in the United States, why should Baxter State Park be your first choice for your hiking journey? It is because this Park has over 200 miles of wild hiking trails, which are of the marvelous hiking terrains in New England.
Whatever your hiking level is, Baxter State Park can satisfy you. You can start your hiking learning journey with pretty flat hiking trails, level up with Big and Little Niagara Falls, or challenge yourself with a strenuous all-day climb to Baxter Peak.
Cut-off Times for Climbing Katahdin (May, June, and July)
What is the cut-off time?
Cut-off time, known as closing time or deadtime, is the latest time by which visitors have to start their hike, as the regulations of Baxter State Park.
It is recommended that daylight time is the best for persons climbing above treeline. The earlier you start your journey, the safer you are because hiking in lack of light is dangerous and risky.
There are a lot of cases in which park rangers have to search and rescue persons who have been hiking in darkness and have no light. Night in Maine is very dark, much more than in other places, because light from the moon and stars is all blocked by many leaf canopies. This darkness makes hikers not able to see and find direction to go back.
Cut-off times for trails in Katahdin (May, June, and July)
Therefore, cut-off times for climbing are set up to ensure the safety of hikers in Baxter State Park. If you go hiking in Katahdin, you should keep in mind cut-off times for climbing in here (applied in May, June, and July):
- Katahdin Stream 12:00 Noon
- Abol 12:00 Noon
- Roaring Brook 12:00 Noon
- Chimney Pond 1:00 p.m.
The Katahdin Stream, Abol, and Roaring Brook share the same cut-off time, 12:00 noon. It means that persons have to start their hike in one of these trails by 12:00 noon. After that time, all starting requests will be rejected.
Meanwhile, the cut-off time for Chimney Pond is 1 p.m because this trail requires less time to finish, and it is less challenging than those three tracks above.
The summer season in the United States usually starts from May to August. During that time, the daylight hours are longer than other months of the year. So, hiking in summer is ideal since you will have more time for your hike and no need to go hiking when being afraid that the darkness will go down soon.
Since August 1st, when the summer goes by, and fall comes, the daylight time also shortens. Due to that change, all campgrounds will set their cut-off time back 1 hour each month, but they still maintain enough 8 hours of daylight for all hikers beyond cut-off time, which is the minimum time for a hike in Katahdin.
Are you sure safe when starting by cut-off time?
The answer is no. Nothing guarantees your safety when hiking in Baxter State Park but yourself. The cut-off time is just one of many regulations the park promulgates to minimize the risks of walking in darkness.
You may think that your plan is perfect, and you are very confident and will follow it precisely throughout your hike. So, late return or get stuck in darkness can never occur. However, everything is possible, even when you are a professional hiker.
Weather changes, rain, storms, and lightning are unexpected phenomena that you may face when hiking in Baxter State Park, which can get you in trouble and extend your hiking time. The park rangers take them all into account to set suitable cut-off times for each campground.
To become the winner in your hike in Baxter State Park, you should always have plan B for unexpected situations. You will not be rescued by park staff until they receive a report about your status. Therefore, always take the initiative in all work. To rescue and save yourself, the park staff requires hikers to carry supporting equipment with them.
Required devices and pieces of equipment for hiking in Baxter State Park
Regardless of which trail you choose, what time you start you hike, and how long your trip lasts, you may forget anything except water and these three must-have belongings:
- Sturdy footwear
- A flashlight (or headlamp)
- A good map
Some people pay attention to their clothes but ignore the importance of shoes. Are trendy and fancy shoes necessary for your hike? No, what you should do is to pay for high quality and durable specially designed hiking shoes, or at least sports shoes, which are lightweight and make you move faster.
Your feet are the most-used body part when hiking, so prepare suitable sturdy footwear for them then your hike will become more enjoyable and more manageable. You may face many obstacles on tracks like rocks or tree roots, so well-made shoes and socks will help you overcome those effortlessly.
To protect yourself and your group, never forget to carry at least one flashlight or headlamp with you. It is fortunate if you start by the cut-off time and go back to the starting point before it gets dark. However, you might face some incidents that make you get stuck and not return by the planned time.
In that case, a flashlight is the only source of light that can save you. It will provide you the light so that you can see guide signs and follow them to take you back. You may get stuck in the darkness for a longer time than the lasting time of its battery, so more than one flashlight is not redundant.
Either you are a person who has a perfect sense of direction, or you are one of those who can get lost everywhere, and every time, a good map is always essential for your hike in Baxter State Park.
In daylight, a map can help you find the right direction quickly, enabling you to save time for your journey and come back on time before darkness goes down. One of the main reasons many people can not return by night is that they got lost and wasted too much time looking for direction.
Hence, never look down to the value of a map because it is just paper, except when you are too used to the trail you are hiking on since you have experienced it thousands of times.
Before leaving the trailhead, you can buy a map at Park Headquarters or the Park’s Visitor Center. Or you can also download it on the official website of Baxter State Park, where they upload detailed maps for each specific hiking area in the park.
Special Notice To All Groups Hiking In Baxter State Park
Besides cut-off times, the park also promulgates some other regulations for hiking groups. Since 2013, the Baxter State Park management board has applied the following regulations:
- The maximum size of a hiking group is 12 persons
- A group with more than 12 members will be asked to finish their hike immediately for breaking the regulation.
- Smaller groups can affiliate and are considered a big group as long as they are on the same trail separated by less than one mile.
- Each group needs an adult leader. Every five adults can attach only one juvenile.
- When hiking in the Park, you are the only party responsible for your safety. Before you and your companies start a hike in Baxter State Park, park staff will provide you with all needed devices and information. That’s all. Your safety is in your hands. Make your hike enjoyable and safe as well.