Published Mar 29, 2016
Baxter State Park (BSP) is weird. It's home to the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail in Maine on what we call Mount Katahdin.
BSP is almost 210,000 acres of forest preserves and "wilderness sanctuary." Baxter State Park is not, however, an official part of the Appalachian Trail. The AT has been an honored guest there since 1933, but the AT has no absolute right to begin or end atop Katahdin.
That's why Baxter State Park has every right to ask northbound Appalachian Trail thru-hikers to obtain an AT Long Distance Hiker Permit Card to summit Katahdin.
The Park was the lifelong project of ... former Maine governor ... Percival Proctor Baxter. Baxter State Park is self-supporting, in large part due to trust funds set up by Percival Baxter and fees paid by users. By his design, the Park is administered separate and distinct from any other agency or state park in Maine. Percival Baxter clearly stated his goal was to place preservation of natural resources as a priority over the recreational use of his park.
The number of what BSP calls "AT Long Distance hikers" has grown from 359 in 1991 to 2,137 in 2015. Now, the park's "processes" are going to change. Not to make a special example of AT hikers; it's just the opposite.
Processes to limit daily access to Katahdin trails to manage visitor experience in the Park's wilderness and to protect the Park's alpine zone have been in place for 30 years for Park visitors from Maine and elsewhere, with the exception of AT long distance hikers.
In BSP's words, "to be equitable to all Baxter State Park visitors, the Park will be implementing a new AT Long Distance Hiker Permit System in 2016. All Northbound Thru Hikers, Section Hikers and Flip-Flop AT Hikers entering Baxter Park in 2016 will be required to secure an AT Long Distance Hiker Permit Card. Southbound AT Hikers will not be required to obtain a card.
AT Long Distance Hiker Permit Card Details
AT Hiker Long Distance Hiker Permit Cards will be available at Park Headquarters in Millinocket; The Appalachian Trail Lodge in Millinocket; Directly from the BSP/AT Steward at Abol Bridge; and, Katahdin Stream Campground in Baxter State Park.
This isn't a backlash from Baxter. They are stewards of a wilderness and they're willing to share it with us ... as guests in their home. This will all work out, if we play nice, not run with scissors and try to get along with others.
Tags: Attractions, Tourism, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, News, Robert Sutherland Travel Writer, Information, baxter state park appalachian trail, baxter state park maine appalachian trail, appalachian trail katahdin, appalachian trail hiker permit card katahdin, and appalachian trail hiker permit card baxter state park
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