The Appalachian Trail in Baxter State Park is subject to Park trail closures.

The Appalachian Trail (AT)

The Appalachian Trail (AT) has been part of Baxter State Park almost since the Park’s formation. Myron Avery established the northern terminus of the (AT) on Baxter Peak in 1933, two years after Percival Baxter donated more than 6,000 acres including this peak of Katahdin—to the people of the State of Maine as the first parcel of Baxter State Park. Since the AT’s establishment, Baxter State Park has hosted the 10 northernmost miles of the Appalachian Trail, which terminate on  Katahdin’s summit.

Baxter State Park is  an independently-funded unique State agency and is managed as a large public trust. The AT within Baxter State Park is managed by the Baxter State Park Authority in accordance with the trust communication, rules and policies that govern Baxter State Park. The trust’s guidance and informal communications left by Percival Baxter to direct the governance and management of Baxter State Park do not specifically address the AT. However, they clearly articulate that the primary purpose of the Park is that of a wilderness preserve, and that the impacts of human recreational use on this wilderness must be minimized.

In order to protect Katahdin’s sensitive ecosystem and the wilderness experience of Park visitors, the number of Katahdin day hikers is controlled by the Park at its gates. The distinctive nature of Appalachian Trail hiking—where most hikers enter the Park on foot—necessitates the application of the following policies to long-distance AT hikers in Baxter State Park:

  • All AT hikers (northbound, southbound, section, and flip-flop) must secure a Long-Distance Hiker Permit in-person at the Katahdin Stream Campground Ranger Station before attempting to summit. Permits will be issued on a first come, first served basis.
  • All AT hikers must comply with entrance and camping policies and fees governing the general public.
  • Northbound hikers who have hiked 100 continuous miles on the AT from Monson may camp at the “The Birches” at Katahdin Stream if space is available. The Birches is limited to a maximum of 12 persons/night and the fee must be paid in cash at Katahdin Stream. There is no “work for stay” in Baxter State Park.
  • Summer camping in Baxter State Park is not available after October 22. Katahdin trails, including the Hunt Trail (AT), may be temporarily closed at any time during the camping seasons due to weather and trail conditions. Katahdin trails are also closed during the “shoulder” seasons, between March 31st and their spring opening, and for a stretch of time between October/November and December 1st. Due to annual “shoulder” season closures, we strongly recommend that AT hikers complete their Katahdin summit hike prior to October 15.

The International Appalachian Trail (IAT)

The International Appalachian Trail (IAT, and Sentier International des Appalaches, SIA) is a project recognizing the ancient common origins of the Appalachian-Caledonian Mountains, which broke apart as new continents formed many millions of years ago. The remnants of these mountains now span both sides of the North Atlantic Ocean, as does a collaboration to develop this long-distance hiking trail. For more information visit the IAT website.

Going northward in North America, the IAT starts in Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument (KWWNM) in Maine, and continues into New Brunswick, Canada, and on to the other eastern Canadian Provinces. Going southward, the IAT coincides with the Appalachian Trail (AT) but has no connecting route through Baxter State Park (between the northern terminus of the AT at Baxter Peak and KWWNM east of the Park).

Hikers wishing to connect a hike between the IAT and the AT must enter or exit Baxter State Park via the same routes as AT hikers- either through the Togue Pond Gate in the southeast or at Abol Bridge in the south. While on the AT, IAT long-distance hikers must follow all the policies applied to AT hikers in Baxter State Park.

The Permit System for Long Distance Hikers
  1. Long-distance (LD) hiker permits are required for all AT & IAT hikers, regardless of the direction of the hike or if it includes Katahdin. The permits become available when the Park opens to hiking in the spring.
  2. Pre-registration cards speed up the registration process and can be obtained at the AT Kiosk (where the AT crosses the Park’s southern boundary), Togue Pond Visitor Center, and Baxter State Park Headquarters in Millinocket. Hikers must provide their actual name, trail name, and an emergency contact phone number to receive a permit.
  3. LD hiker permits must be secured in person at Katahdin Stream Campground, along with a hiker registration sheet.
  4. Permits should be displayed on packs and made available to Park staff upon request.
  5. There is no fee for a permit.
  6. The permits will be issued to all Long-Distance hikers: Northbound, Southbound, Section, and Flip-Flop.
  7. Hikers must also sign trail registers.
  8. The maximum number of LD Permits issued per calendar year is 3,150.
  9. Permits will be dated at the time of issue. Permits are valid for a period of 7 (seven) days from the date on the permit (for example, a permit issued on 9/23/24 will be valid through 9/30/24).
  10. If the maximum number of permits have been issued in a given year, LD hikers may still complete their hike by entering the Park through the Togue Pond Gate following the same process as all other day use and camping visitors. However, the Birches campsite will be closed.
  11. The Park access protocols apply to AT shuttles arriving at Togue Pond Gatehouse.
  12. Individuals LD hiking in Baxter State Park without a permit are in violation of Baxter State Park Rules, section 1.3. Violators may be issued a summons and a court issued fine up to $1,000.

The Baxter State Park Authority expects AT hikers to respect the experience of other visitors during their summit hike and