(Last Updated On: September 27, 2022)

mountain rising above colorful trees surrounding lake at baxter state park in Maine

Tucked away in the Northeast Piscataquis region of north-central Maine, Baxter State Park is a very impressive state park.

Established by Percival P. Baxter, a former governor who wanted to create a park the Pine Tree State could be proud of – it was initially created through 28 land donations, that took place between 1931 and 1962.

Today Baxter State Park spans over 209,000 acres. Which incorporates a scintillating landscape of breathtaking lakes, ponds, streams, woods and peaks, including Katahdin, the tallest mountain in Maine.

Although not officially part of Maine’s State Park system, it boasts over 40 ridges and peaks, some 220 miles of hiking trails, excellent fishing and no less than 10 different campgrounds.

All of which render it a very popular day trip, weekend and vacation destination for residents of Maine, and the nearby, surrounding states.

Activities

For those who enjoy immersing themselves in the great outdoors, Baxter State Park provides you with the opportunity to enjoy plenty of outdoor pursuits.

Here is a selection of some of the things you can do at the park.

Boating and swimming at Baxter State Park

Throughout the park there are various opportunities to enjoy a leisurely paddle on a canoe, kayak or SUP.

You can rent out this equipment at some of the pondside campgrounds that are dotted around the park.

Unless otherwise stated, swimming is allowed in ponds and streams. But be mindful, as the water might be a little cold for some people.

Also be aware there are also no lifeguards present. So all swimming takes place at your own risk.

Fishing at Baxter State Park

Anglers from all over Maine and the surrounding states come to the park to enjoy excellent fly fishing on its rivers, ponds and streams.

You will need a Maine fishing license in order to cast a line – which you can obtain from the Visitor Center, all ranger stations and the Matagamon Gatehouse.

However, once you have procured one, you should be able to snare plenty of cusk, bullhead, salmon, brook trout and bullhead.

Residents of Maine who are under 16 years old, as well as park visitors who are under 12 years old, do not require a license to fish.

Trails at Baxter State Park

Whether you are into gentle strolls, or more challenging rambles that will really get your heart rate going, you’ll the love the opportunity to explore the park’s 220 miles of trails.

At the easy end of the scale, the one mile trail that takes you to Katahdin Stream Falls highlights some of the park’s stunning forest and waterways.

If you are a more serious hiker you can climb to the summit of Mt. Katahdin. To do this you will have to take the very difficult Knife Edge trail, which can take between eight to 12 hours to complete.

For those who want a longer hike, in terms of distance at least, you can even choose to tackle a selection of the iconic Appalachian Trail.

Biking at the park is allowed on the Dwelley Pond Trail and the Park Tote Road. While fat biking, in the winter, is permitted on the Abol Stream trail and the Tote Road.

Birding at Baxter State Park

If you are big into birdwatching you will love the opportunity to spot lots of different species.

This includes the likes of Turkey Vulture, Northern Harrier, Black-throated Green Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Common Grackle and Red-breasted Nuthatch.

They are all prevalent in the park, so be sure to bring your binoculars with you.

Rock Climbing at Baxter State Park

Rock climbing is a very popular activity at the park, with many people coming here to tackle sections of the imposing weather-beaten 5,267 foot granite of Katahdin.

Most of the rock climbing activity takes place around the Chimney Pond area, which is accessed via a two-hour hike. Before attempting the climb, all climbers should register with the park range at Chimney Pond.

Hunting at Baxter State Park

Hunting is allowed in roughly 25% of the park, though under strict conditions. Moose hunting and hunting over bait, for instance, are not permitted.

Most of the hunting site is based the Park’s Scientific Forest Management Area (SFMA), which is tucked away in the park’s northwest corner.

Winter at Baxter State Park

During the winter, the park becomes a very popular destination for snow based activities like cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

Nature & Wildlife

Throughout the park’s 200,000+ acres, wildlife watching opportunities are abundant.

In the wetlands, you can expect to see moose grazing, as well as beavers building dams.

Over in the forest, white-tailed deer roam freely, and if you are lucky (or maybe unlucky?) you may even get to see black bears. Although sightings of them are usually pretty rare.

Pets at Baxter State Park

Unfortunately dogs are strictly forbidden at Baxter State Park, so you will have to leave your pooch at home.

Camping at Baxter State Park

For those who enjoy camping, the park provides plenty of accommodation opportunities across 10 different campgrounds.

Overall there are some 330 campsites that are well suited to tent campers and smaller RVs. Eight of the campgrounds are classed as ‘frontcountry’ and can accommodate RVs that are 22 feet long.

South Branch Pond is the largest campground at the park and is a great place to stay if you like hiking, as you are close to several hiking trails.

The wonderfully named Roaring Brook is a very popular campground too, as it showcases some of the park’s most beautiful scenery.

Amenities at Baxter State Park are quite limited. While there are plenty of natural water sources, you will have to bring your own sterilization or filter equipment.

You’ll find outhouses at most of the campgrounds too, though there are no showers. So the campgrounds will appeal most to those who are experienced and self-sufficient campers.

Be mindful that the park is black bear country. So it is important to take all the necessary precautions to keep your campsite free of food attractions.

Park Location

Baxter State Park
Millinocket, ME 04462
Phone: 207.723.5140

Website
Reservations

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video highlighting some of the amazing features of Baxter State Park: