Baxter State Park's Appalachian Trail Hiker Permit Card

Published Mar 29, 2016

You'll need a permit to hike Katahdin in 2016. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Mount Katahdin. Photograph by Robert Sutherland

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.

Baxter State Park History

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

  • Cards must be acquired in person.
  • There is no limit to the number of cards available in 2016.
  • The cards are FREE.
  • Hikers must provide their real names and Trail names.
  • The card will be dated at the time of issue and again at Katahdin Stream Campground in Baxter State Park at the time of the AT hiker's completion of their Katahdin climb.

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.

BSP Appalachian Trail Hiker Permit Card pdf

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

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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dan vitale on Mar 10, 2016
Good idea! More bureaucracy, more rules, more regulations, cods, laws, and restrictions, all make me feel so much better.
elderberry on Mar 19, 2016
So anything goes in BSP? That's what you want?
dan vitale on Mar 20, 2016
I'm sure a permit system will make everything just fine.
Teresa Thomas on Mar 10, 2016
This is necessary as hikers have abused the location and made a mockery of the concept of hiking with peace and nature. It should not be all about someone's ego and drinking. Go in town to celebrate. Rules are made because of some hiker's bad choices.
Beetle on Mar 11, 2016
I feel sad that an irresponsible minority has made it necessary to add more rules and regulations and bureaucracy. I hope it at least remains free and without a limit on numbers.