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black Katahdin Loop

  5.0 ( 6 ) Favorite

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20.0 mile 32.2 kilometer loop


Ascent: 5,049' 1,539 m
Descent: -5,045' -1,538 m
High: 5,236' 1,596 m
Low: 1,315' 401 m


Avg Grade: 10% (5°)
Max Grade: 102% (45°)


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Trail shared by Bryan Gagner

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A varied, challenging 19 mile loop around and up over Mount Katahdin.

Bryan Gagner

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildlife


Most of this trail is pretty mellow, but the climb out of the NW basin is a wet scramble and the Knife Edge is exposed and exciting. This is a long hike, and you'll get up above treeline - it's not a trivial trip!

Need to Know

Weather for the top of Katahdin; click here

The parking is limited in Baxter State Park and state residents get first choice so check out the parking restrictions and rules; baxterstateparkauthority.co…


I have always wanted to do this loop at Baxter state park in Maine around, up and over Katahdin. We made a day trip out of it which made for a very long day but good times were had by all.

Start out at the Roaring Brook trailhead. From there, head up to Russell Pond on the Russell Pond Trail. This is an easy section of trail that should flow along nicely. Only about a half mile in is a great view over a pond of the Mount Katahdin massif. About a third of the way along, there is a huge glacial erratic that the trail goes around. There's a stream crossing at mile 6, that could be sketchy at high water. Take a left at about 6.4 miles (10.3k) onto the Northwest Basin Trail.

The first few miles of this trail are a gradual climb that is very doable. As you get to the ponds, it gets a bit more tricky but the views open up of the most remote basin in Baxter. The boulders get bigger as do the holes between them. Part of the trail follows a steep stream on bedrock for a bit. A quick side trip to Davis pond is worth it.

Once above treeline, continue to the saddle, up to the peak, across the Knife Edge to Pamola and then down the Helon Taylor Trail. This trail is exposed at the top, bushy in the middle, and ledgy on the bottom. It ends at that Chimney Pond Trail, 0.2 miles from the ranger station.

Flora & Fauna

Moose and Bear are around!


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Aug 27, 2017
Becca Dupont
Oct 18, 2014
Nikola Robinson
Difficult, but nice for begginers. 20mi — 12h 00m

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 6 votes


  5.0 from 6 votes
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in Maine


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5,735 Since Mar 27, 2015
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I hiked this a few years back as a day hike. I did on a perfect day starting with Helon Taylor. The Knife Edge and Katahdin are always fun. After passing the saddle you probably won't see anybody. Once you drop into Norhwest Basin it's extremely remote but the hiking is relatively easy. As a dayhike it's fairly tough. It is possible to make it a backpacking trip if you can get the permits and camp in the NW Basin leanto or Russell Brook. I have climbed Katahdin nearly 20 times and this was my favorite day up there. Jun 3, 2018

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