Baxter State Park, one beautiful gem that awaits the visit, return trip
I know lots of people who make it a habit to hike Mt Katahdin and the many other trails around the state’s highest mountain. That do the up and down taking different trails to make it new and different. That hike Mount “K” a couple times a year.
There is something about seeing the snow capped mountain while driving a car and imagining the winding trails that lead to the top from a distance. Baxter State Park, Mt Katahdin like the state of Maine tugs at your heart strings once you get close enough and fall in love with the many outdoor facets of Maine.
Mt Katahdin is the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, was the pride and joy of Governor Percival Baxter who back in the 1930’s made it a life long mission.
To set up, protect and preserve this granite intrusion in unorganized Vacationland. That is far from the standard tourist traps of shop til you drop, so many eatery options coastal Maine is famous for attracting visitors. There are a slew of hiking options, elevations of all sizes and design. But Mt Katahdin that is the centerpiece of Baxter State Park.
To be kept forever wild. Baxter State Park was a gift from Governor Percival Baxter, starting with 6000 acres and ending up over 201,000 acres donated to the people of Maine. Baxter spent his personal fortune over 32 years creating the dream that became a popular vacation destination for many hikers, campers, wildlife enthusiasts. Baxter was a true public servant through his life. There has been an effort to make the state facility into a national park like Acadia is Downeast. More on the latest in the debate about Baxter State Park becoming a national park.
When the conversation topic comes up on whether keep the park the way she is or make Baxter State Park a national one, the same talking points are hashed over.
The land preservation plan if you want Baxter to become a national park promise a boost for the local economy. For Millinocket that not longer enjoys the steady rattle and hum of many paper making machines lubricating the open and shut of local cash registers. The high paying paper jobs, the trickle down spin off from them are gone leaving a one big sucking sound. One huge gaping employment hole in the region. All the employment eggs in one basket with little diversification did not help either when Great Northern Paper went to its knees.
Those against the move to make Baxter change designations from state control to national status will mean further government control shuts down local industry and hurts future growth. The land that makes up Baxter State Park in Picataquis County is a landscape that inspired early conservationists from Henry David Thoreau to President Theodore Roosevelt. It is a hotly debated topic, right up there with the legalization of marijuana for medicinal or recreational use. When you pull into a gas station to refuel. Running in to settle up and grab something cold to drink or a snack to munch on. You hear it in the grapevine in public places being discussed. The local newsprint and online recycled electrons media streams bang the drum on the subject of how best to classify Baxter State Park.
Regardless of the park’s demise and whatever her designation status, plan that trip to Baxter State Park.
Take the little ones up Horse Mountain, 1400′ high and first on the list to cut your teeth. To develop the bug to hike for life. The Katahdin Loop Trail is over 9 miles long. You want to start early and keep in mind the clock is ticking. See the sights, the wild flowers, the long vistas along the way, all the animals that live at Baxter State Park.
But be prepared for a rugged Knife’s edge that sprews granite boulders haphazardly to the sides. Creating the long narrow pathway at the top, after you reach the table land above the tree line. Where there is no place to hide from the wind, up high where the eagles soar.
The Saddle Trail has some steep sections too and the more tedious sections of your hike up Mount Katahdin will be above the tree line, where you are exposed.
Where everything is out in the open, windy, and a long way down as you crank your head around. The trail ascent and descent demand your respect, to watch your step. You won’t have trouble sleeping the night after the hike up and down Mt Katahdin.
There is nothing like reaching the top and watching the clouds drift by a mile up on Maine’s tallest peak. But stay hydrated, bring something warm and breathable for clothing for the trip up and down whatever peak you are determined to master every given day.
Make the visit part of your family tradition for the exercise, the beauty, the memory making. Sample her outdoor clean air, cold clear water. And for the work out to capture the long jaw dropping view that awaits whatever elevation you decide to conquer.
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