Are Trails to Katahdin Closed for 2016? Yes and No.
Here in Georgia, I’m working on “The Deck of Delight” next to the Dancing Deer Forest. It’s sunny, birds are singing and/or chirping and the temperature is about 75 degrees.
In Baxter State Park, the northern end of the Appalachian Trail, a foot of snow has fallen atop Katahdin and the trails are closed. Contrary to many reports, however, trails to Katahdin are not absolutely closed for 2016.
Baxter State Park’s Facebook post on October 25, 2016:
ALL KATAHDIN TRAILS […] ARE CLOSED AT THE TRAILHEAD.
As has happened in years past, winter has arrived on Katahdin early. On a trail inspection, Ranger Mike Winslow provided these views of the Abol Trail at 3800′ today.
Hikers arriving now are not prepared for the conditions at elevation and sensitive habitats are more endangered by errant footsteps. The forecast suggests a bigger dose of winter is on the way.
Many helpful people interpreted that statement to mean the trails are “closed for the rest of the year,” but that’s incorrect, according to the lady I spoke with at BSP on October 26th.
In addition to a foot of snow on the ground and six inches of “rime ice,” another foot of snow is expected soon. Once snow falls, BSP does not plow inside the park.
Merriam-Webster’s definition of Rime: “an accumulation of granular ice tufts on the windward sides of exposed objects that is formed from supercooled fog or cloud and built out directly against the wind.”
When conditions are life-threatening, trails are closed — temporarily. If the weather improves significantly (albeit briefly) could the Appalachian Trail, for example, reopen? The answer is “yes.” Just don’t count on it.
Winter Camping at Baxter State Park
You would be allowed to day-hike Katahdin between the hours of 6 AM until 7 PM. That’s before dawn until after dark. This isn’t a jaunt for dreamers. It’s a battle against the elements that will take all your strength, determination and best cold-weather gear.
Winter Use registration begins on November 1st. You must register with BSP, in person or by mail, at least one week in advance.
That means you cannot walk up and expect them to let you hike just because [insert excuse here]. Remember, Baxter State Park isn’t “part of the Appalachian Trail.” They are self-regulated and we are guests in their wilderness. Civil or uncivil disobedience will subject violators to citations.
If the mosquitoes or moose in Maine don’t get you in the summer, the brutal winters might. Following the Winter Use regulations will help you stay alive to hike another day, in a warmer season.
Wind and snow might postpone the culmination of your thru-hike. Katahdin will be there in the spring. Hike smart. Please.
Hiking Trails to Katahdin in Winter