Are Trails to Katahdin Closed for 2016? Yes and No.

Published Nov 3, 2016

Winter Conditions on Katahdin ~ Photo Courtesy of Baxter State Park

Winter Conditions on Katahdin ~ Photo Courtesy of Baxter State Park

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:


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

If you simply must summit Katahdin to finish a thru-hike in 2016, don't give up. Yet. You may climb Katahdin, beginning December 1st, by following Winter Camping and Winter Day Use regulations.

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.

Miss Janet Hensley's Capture of Katahdin via Instagram

Miss Janet Hensley's Capture of Katahdin via Instagram

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

Tags: Appalachian Trail, Hiking Gear, News, Robert Sutherland Travel Writer, Safety, Hiking Safety, appalachian trail hikers, trails to katahdin closed, baxter state park trails closed for 2016, and appalachian trail closed for 2016

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
Related Articles

Baxter State Park Naturalist Jean Hoekwater says Mt. Katahdin's ecosystem is especially fragile during "shoulder seasons," such as spring and fall.

Scott Jurek's Appalachian Trail run to Katahdin will end today, Day 46, July 12, 2015. Fueled by a plant-based diet and the loving care of his wife, Jenny.

Published Aug 16, 2014. Maine's Baxter State Park closed Abol Trail for the rest of 2014. The Appalachian Trail to the top of Mount Katahdin remains open.

Christopher Hendley on Oct 31, 2016
Very useful information, as usual, Robert. I love reading your work...keep it coming.

Chris Hendley
mel on Dec 8, 2016
Hello all I am Melvin Shadowen age ( older but not cranky) and I have been reading all I can find on the Appalachian trail with Thru hiking on my mind .so please any advice will be taking seriously . I hope to begin my Thru Hike in Maine around April 1 st. I want to hit the hard part first at reasonable pace . Being in the military for over 22 years and from what I have read thus far tells me that as always its all in the planning and mental preparation . I am presently reading The New Appalachian Hiker 111 by Edward B. Garvey when he was on his last hike at 75 years young . I know that the less you carry the better as long as you have the right stuff for the weather conditions which are always changing in the mountains . Rain gear and good wind breaker and wool gloves are a must as well as nutrition and energy dense food ..Looking at foot wear , all types of tents and bivey covers compression water proof pouches and so on as well as a proper back pack . Locally the prices are staggering but I an assured that once I find what I need I may be able to find it at a better price on Amazon hopefully , So any info on weather conditions , good gear and food are appreciated . I am at ( )

Robert Sutherland on Dec 26, 2016

Sorry it's taken so long to respond to you.

You'll find a wealth of information at the website of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy:

Hope that helps,