December 1 to March 31

Consequences are magnified in winter.  Rescue may be days away.

You enter the winter backcountry of Baxter State Park at your own risk.
It is your responsibility to minimize hazards by using good judgment.

Steps to success for winter adventures in Baxter:




Winter Day Use

Below Treeline

Individual day users should sign in and out at Park Headquarters or at the self-registration boxes located at Park entrances.

Hiking and Ski touring

Most years, hiking requires snowshoes.  Snow conditions can be very different from one spot to another.  You can find excellent ski touring and snowshoeing near the major trailheads, but it is very difficult to reach any of the summits in a single day.  Note:  Park roads are not plowed in winter.  See Winter Use Map for more info.


Snowmobiling is permitted only on the Park Tote Road, which is not groomed. There are no warming huts, fuel sources, or other facilities along the route. The speed limit is 20 mph. Please use caution as the Park Tote Road is a multiple use area and there may be skiers/snowshoers traveling throughout the Park.

Above Treeline

Day users expecting to travel above treeline are required to register with the Park seven business days prior to the date of their climb.  Parties planning to winter mountain hike or climb (travel above treeline or off marked trails, including ice or snow climbing) in a single day are subject to the same registration process (see Reserve, below) as winter campers. Permission for winter mountain hiking or climbing can not be granted over the telephone.

Very fit skiers/hikers traveling in ideal conditions may be able to ascend Katahdin via the Abol Trail in a single day, but this is generally impractical. There are few if any ice climbs that can conveniently be done on a day-use basis, although there are a few moderate ice climbs near the Park Tote Road, such as those on the southeast side of Doubletop Mountain. (However, these routes also require crossing Nesowadnehunk Stream.)

Group Size

There is no minimum, and twelve (12) is the maximum group size in the Park. Those who are registered as part of a group but wish to climb solo (alone) must submit a separate Winter Use Registration Form to the Chimney Pond Ranger. Submission of this form does not authorize a winter climber to participate in unprotected free solo climbing on technical terrain (routes that would normally be climbed with the use of ropes and means of protection).

Travel Time

Simply put, winter travel will take longer than summer travel. A basic guideline is to expect to travel approximately two miles per hour in a small group, plus: ½ hour per thousand feet of elevation gain, ½ hour per mile for carrying a heavy pack or towing a sled, and ½ hour per mile for trail-breaking in deep snow.

Camping in Winter

Many trips are planned as bunkhouse to bunkhouse excursions. Bunkhouse reservations fill quickly, especially those at Chimney Pond. Lean-to reservations are usually available for those willing to endure the elements 24 hours a day; however, it is important to remember that open fires are NOT allowed at Chimney Pond at any time of year, while the bunkhouse has a woodstove.  The Park provides bunkhouses or cabins at Trout Brook Farm, South Branch Pond, Nesowadnehunk, Russell Pond, Roaring Brook, Chimney Pond, Kidney and Daicey (cabins only) and Togue Pond.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGetting here is strenuous.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA Chimney Pond Lean-To in winter (no fires allowed).  It is very hard to dry out your gear here.

facilities_south_branch_pond-bh-2_1_15Chimney Pond bunkhouse.  

 Getting There

South End or West side

Parking for most trips on the south end of the Park is at Abol Bridge (see Abol Parking detail in bottom left corner of the winter map above).  This is about 18 miles up the Golden Road from Millinocket–most folks take the State Road up to ‘the dike’ and go onto the state road from there.  Log trucks have the right of way!  Pull over if you see one coming and keep your speed down to respond to oncoming 200,000+ pound trucks.  See also our Winter Use Map.

North End

Travel on I-95 to Exit 264; turn west (left) on Route 158 which shortly joins Route 11. Bear right on Route 11 and travel 9 miles to Patten. Leaving Patten, leave Route 11 and turn left on Route 159, the Shin Pond Road. Continue 23 miles on this road, cross the East Branch of the Penobscot River, and park on the right, across from the northern entrance to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.



For more in-depth information, download the BSP winter handbook.

 Recommended Equipment

Extreme weather conditions are likely in Baxter State Park in winter, and rescue is likely to be hours or days away. The following equipment is recommended.

Personal Winter Essentials

Snowshoes or skis,  and repair materials
Backpack the conditions are not always good for hauling a sled
Insulated footwear summer hiking boots will not be sufficient
Sleeping bag rated for winter conditions
Sun protection sunglasses, snow goggles, and sunscreen (a March sun is as strong as September)
Fire matches or a lighter (preferably butane)
Extra food a two-day reserve is wise
Extra clothing to replace the wet stuff you sweat through, or to layer up when the wind blows
Navigation topo map and compass at a minimum
Illumination it is a Park rule to carry a flashlight or a headlamp

Group Winter Gear

First Aid
Axe or Camp Saw
Outdoor Thermometer and wind chill chart
Snow shovel

Technical Winter Gear

Ice Axe and Crampons
Climbing Rope
Spare Sleeping Bag
Avalanche Safety Gear


 To make your BSP experience (and everyone else’s) more enjoyable…


Processing of winter camping reservations and above treeline registrations, by mail and in person, begin on November 1.

For information on our Winter Reservations Opening Day (November 1) process, click here.

Reservations and registrations must be made at least 7 business days in advance of your trip.

To complete a Winter Camping Reservation or a Day Use Reservation above treeline, complete the online form below:


Once you complete the online form, both you and the park will receive copies of the application.  Reservation staff will contact you to confirm your reservation or to address any questions/issues regarding your reservation.

 While you may not reserve a campsite for winter online, you can view campsite availability.

No special permission is required for one-day trips below treeline. Visitors should check in and out at the self-registration boxes, at Park Headquarters, or by phone.

Reservation Office  207-723-5140

Winter M-F, 8am-4pm by appointment
Office hours are subject to change without notice.