There are many ways to enjoy Baxter’s great gift to the State of Maine.
The Abol Pond Shelter is located at the western end of Abol Pond and provides swimming and canoeing opportunities.
Togue Pond Beach is located a few hundred feet from the Park’s Visitor Center and is the most popular day use picnicking and swimming location in Baxter State Park. Remember – pets are not allowed in Baxter State Park!
The Park has two hike-in Picnic Shelters for those who want to combine a hike and lunch:
The Katahdin Lake Shelter is a 3.2 mile hike from the Avalanche Field trailhead on the Roaring Brook Road and provides good swimming and fishing opportunities on Katahdin Lake. Canoes can be rented from the canoe site nearby (remember to request a key at either Togue Pond Gatehouse or Roaring Brook Campground).
The Dwelley Pond Shelter provides good opportunities for wildlife viewing. A canoe is available for rental at this shelter (remember to request a key at either Togue Pond Gatehouse, Matagamon Gatehouse, Trout Brook Farm or Nesowadnehunk Campground).
Canoes and kayaks are available for rent ($1/hr – honor system) at every pondside campground in the Park and most backcountry ponds with trail access. Most backcountry lean-tos located on a lake or pond have a dedicated canoe for campers staying at the site. Some require a key; check against this list to determine where to find that key.
Opportunities for whitewater canoeing in the Park are limited. Webster Stream includes class 1, 2 and 3 waters and a class 5 drop at Grand Pitch. Water levels in Webster Stream are strongly influenced by rain events as well as changes in the dam gates upsteam at Telos Dam. The remoteness of Webster Stream limits canoeing on this stream to parties that have reserved at least one campsite in the Park and Park policy requires that parties canoeing Webster spend the previous night at Webster Outlet or another site on Webster Lake to provide sufficient time to paddle the 9 mile stream and reach another campsite on Matagamon Lake or exit the Park via Trout Brook Farm.
Motors are not permitted on most Park ponds, but are allowed on Matagamon, Webster and Nesowadnehunk Lakes. The use of motors 10 HP or less are permitted on Upper and Lower Togue Pond.
If you plan to bring your own boat, please be careful to avoid spreading aquatic invasives, and please know the laws associated with boating in Maine. Please call (207) 723-8537 if you have any questions.
Hunting and trapping are permitted on approximately 25% of the Park, but there is no moose hunting or hunting over bait allowed. These areas are described in the Park rule below and include all of the Scientific Forest Management Area, about 1,000 acres around Upper and Lower Togue Pond purchased by the Authority in 1993 and over 2,000 acres north of the West Branch of the Penobscot purchased by the Baxter State Park Authority in 1997.
The majority of hunting takes place in the Park’s Scientific Forest Management Area (SFMA) located in the northwest corner of the Park. Hunters accessing the SFMA via the Telos Road and Useless Roads (private) will have access on the Wadleigh Mountain Road east to the Frost Pond Road junction. From Matagamon gate, hunters have access to a portion of the SFMA road system between the Lynx Gate and the Frost Pond Gate.
Park Gatehouses are operated through the main hunting season to the end of November.
Whether you seek an afternoon of fly-fishing on Kidney Pond, a gentle introduction to fishing for your grandchild with bonus moose sightings or the thrill of fishing a pond or stream a full day’s hike from the car, fishing is a primary activity for many Park visitors.
IF&W Fishing Rules. Most Park ponds and streams are located in Piscataquis County (only Katahdin Lake is in Penobscot County).
When cleaning fish, if the fish have been taken from that pond, please dispose of the entrails in deep water off-shore for nutrient recycling of the fish parts. These will be rapidly consumed by minnows, crayfish and other fish. If fishing from shore, either throw the entrails at least 20 feet off-shore, carry them out in your carry out litter bag or dig a cathole at least 200 feet from water, campsite or trail and bury the entrails. If cleaning the fish back at camp away from the body of water it was caught in, either carry out the entrails or bury them as described previously. Fish entrails, as with other food, will not completely burn in a fire pit and will attract animals, as well as leave an unsightly fire pit for the next visitor. For these reasons, please do not attempt to burn them in the fire pit.
Special considerations for anglers—Be sure to carry out monofilament line, as it is not biodegradable and an animal or bird might become fatally entangled, avoid lead sinkers to prevent the death of loons and other waterfowl due to lead poisoning and carry out bait cups and unused bait.
For safety, children 10 or under are required to WEAR a Type I, II or III PFD in all watercraft.
Need to buy a license? State of Maine fishing licenses are sold at Matagamon Gatehouse and all Ranger Stations. Maine residents under 16 years of age and nonresidents under 12 years of age may fish without a license.
Bicycling is permitted on the Park Tote Road and the Dwelley Pond Trail. Bicycling is permitted on those portions of the SFMA road system not in use for logging; please contact Resource Manager Eben Sypitkowski for current logging operation locations and resultant bicycle closures. Fat biking is allowed on the Abol Stream trail and the Tote Road during winter months.
- Technical Rock Climbing
Download Technical Climbing Guidelines
Baxter State Park offers some of the most remote and challenging technical climbing in New England. Climbers can find any type of climbing to challenge themselves, from bouldering to multi pitch climbs. Most of the Katahdin climbing routes are accessed from Chimney Pond via the Roaring Brook Campgrounds, a 3.3 mile hike. Approaches to these climbs can take from ½ hour to 2 hours. For the Armadillo, Flat Iron and Pamola 4 routes it is recommended to leave Chimney Pond by 8:00am.
As technical rock climbing continues to grow, it becomes necessary to balance this recreational activity with responsible management of the Park’s resources. Respect for the environment and a commitment to Leave No Trace climbing techniques are required of the climbing community. Baxter State Park does not allow practices such as placing bolts on existing routes or establishing new bolt-intensive routes and chipping or gluing new holds.
To accomplish this goal, please adopt this code of ethics
for low impact climbing:
Accept responsibility for yourself and others.
Pack out all litter. Bury human waste away from water (200′ if possible) or pack it out.
Use existing access trails to approach climbs. Avoid short-cutting trails.
Know and respect historic and environmentally sensitive areas.
Be considerate of wildlife and other users.
Leave the rock and its environs in its natural condition.
Know and abide by the Baxter State Park Rules & Regulations.
You Are Responsible For Yourself, So Be Prepared.
Competent technique, experience, safety equipment,
physical fitness and good judgment are Essential.
Because of the geology and remoteness climbing helmets are required.
Besides climbing gear, recommended equipment includes rain gear, at least 2L of water, headlamp, first aid kit, map & compass.
Like all park users, climbers should sign in & out at all trail registers. Check-in with the Chimney Pond rangers is advisable to get up to date weather and local conditions.
Hazards in the form of sudden violent weather (lightning, wind, snow, and rainstorms), waterfalls, and the dangers associated with climbing, cause injuries every year and can ruin a climb.
Always let a friend know your plans. You are responsible for notifying someone when you return.
Baxter State Park rangers will not start a search until after a climber is reported overdue.
Technical rescue may be hours away.
Wildlife and Photography
Seeing wildlife in the Park can be one of the most exciting and memorable experiences you can have in the Park. The Park provides intact watersheds and ecosytems representing complete assemblages of the flora and fauna of the Acadian Forest.
Wildlife can occur anywhere within the Park at anytime of the day or night. Although early morning and evening are usually the best times to see some wildlife, Park staff at campgrounds, gatehouses and the Park’s Visitor Center at Togue Pond can provide advice on local sites for viewing wildlife as well as recent updates on wildlife sightings.
For birders, the Park provides a listing of bird species found in the Park. Handouts on wildlife species and wildflowers found within the Park are also available at Park Headquarters and the Visitor Center.
Photography in all seasons.
Photographing wildlife is a popular venture for many in the Park, particularly in the fall and spring. Our first mission is to protect the wildlife in the Park. We encourage all visitors to recognize and adopt appropriate actions and ethics when photographing wildlife in the Park. (Video Link)
Photography is very popular at particular spots within the Park such as Sandy Stream and Stump Ponds. “Big Glass” photographers should avoid numbers and tripod concentrations that prevent free access to boardwalks and view points by other users. At Sandy Stream and Stump Ponds, to protect wildlife, photographers are reminded that human access around the ponds is limited to established trails and walkways. While Sandy Stream and Stump Ponds are popular and convenient locations for photographers, there are many other worthwhile ponds and wildlife use areas in the Park – explore!
Along with wildlife, many Park visitors are interested in the flora of the Park, including the many wildflowers indigenous to our region. A handout of wildflowers that can be found in the Park is available on this website and at Park Headquarters. Check out the newly minted Flora: the plants of Baxter State Park in our store or here.
By all accounts, the Park has a healthy population of Black Bears, although they are seldom seen by visitors. Please keep our wildlife wild and do not feed, or provide food for black bears or any other wildlife. Our mission is to protect the wildlife of the Park and the unfortunate reality is that when wildlife lose their wildness around people, it usually ends badly for the wildlife.
Our interpretive programs are aimed to broaden your understanding of Baxter State Park’s natural and cultural history. Join our Rangers for Family Programs, Evening Campground Programs, and Walk with a Ranger programs. All are enjoyable and free. Due to COVID-19 there are no interpretive programs scheduled for the 2020 season.
We encourage our younger visitors to join us in helping preserve Baxter State Park by becoming a Junior Ranger. The Junior Ranger Program is a wonderful way for the entire family to enjoy and explore the park. Junior Ranger books may be found at campgrounds, gatehouses, and the visitor center, or downloaded HERE.