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 reservations cannot be made online. You will need to submit a registration form to camp, solo, or go above treeline in winter.
Winter Day Use
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.
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.)
There is no minimum, and twelve (12) is the maximum group size in winter as in summer. Those wishing to camp and/or climb solo (alone) must submit their completed Winter Solo Camping Form (see below) with the original reservation request, or with the Chimney Pond Ranger if climbing solo but functioning as a member of a pre-existing camping group. The “Solo Camping and Climbing 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).
Simply put, winter travel will take longer than summer travel. A basic rule of thumb 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
For winter 2020-21, bunkhouses will be reserved on a single-party basis, much like cabins. See this post for more information. 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 no open fires are allowed at Chimney Pond at any time of year, and only the bunkhouse has a woodstove. Many trips are planned as bunkhouse to bunkhouse excursions. The Park provides bunkhouses or cabins at Trout Brook Farm, South Branch Pond, North Branch Camps, Nesowadnehunk, Russell Pond, Roaring Brook, Chimney Pond, Kidney and Daicey (cabins only) and Togue Pond.
Getting here is strenuous.
This is a Chimney Pond Lean-To in winter (no fires allowed). It is very hard to dry out your gear here.
Chimney Pond bunkhouse.
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.
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.
Extreme weather conditions are likely in Baxter State Park in winter, and rescue is likely to be hours or days or days away. The following equipment is recommended.
Personal Winter Essentials
Group Winter Gear
Technical Winter Gear
To make your BSP experience (and everyone else’s) more enjoyable…
Winter camping reservations and above treeline registrations must be made in person (by appointment) or by mail after November 2.
For information on our November 2nd Opening Day process, click here.
Reservations and registrations must be made at least 7 days in advance of your trip.
Depending on what you’re planning to do, please download, fill out and mail in the appropriate form:
Winter Camping Registration Form | Solo Winter Camping Form | Winter Day Use Above Treeline Registration Form.
Baxter State Park
64 Balsam Drive
Millinocket, ME 04462
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.