The Katahdin Region is unique for many reasons. One of the most significant is the presence of several large parks, conservation lands, a National Monument, and National and International Trails such as the Appalachian Trail and the International Appalachian trail, in addition to the ITS. We have a LOT of natural resources in the area including the following:
Baxter State Park
The Park has over 200,000 acres of state land, including 200 miles of hiking trails, rivers, lakes, streams, and Maine's highest Mountain - Katahdin. Standing at 5,282 feet - exactly a mile high, the mountain provides the most profound backdrop for the entire region and resources. Find more information here: https://baxterstatepark.org
Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
The recently designated (Aug 24th, 2016) National Monument is 87,500 sq feet and it contains a significant piece of this extraordinary natural and cultural landscape: the mountains, woods, and waters east of Baxter State Park (home of Katahdin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail). It is also where the East Branch of the Penobscot River combines with its tributaries, including Wassataquoik Stream and the Seboeis River, before flowing into the Penobscot River in Medway. Find the Monument Proclamation here.
Gulf Hagas is a gorge located in the mountains of central Maine and is often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the East. The Gulf Hagas area is part of the Appalachian Trail corridor, which is federally owned and managed under the auspices of the National Park Service (NPS) and the Appalachian Trail Conference (ATC). The West Branch of the Pleasant River cuts through the earth for three miles creating a vertically walled slate gorge with numerous waterfalls. A trail follows the canyon rim, offering hikers views of the falls and their geology. The gorge is 3 miles (4.8 km) long; the river drops 370 feet (110 m) in this distance boasting 130 foot (40 m) walls. Gulf Hagas is one of 14 National Natural Landmarks in the State of Maine, and is open to the public for a fee during the regular season. Find a Map of Gulf Hagas Here. Find more information on Gulf Hagas here.
Nature Conservancy Land
This includes The Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area. Nestled near Katahdin, just south of Baxter State Park, The Nature Conservancy’s Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area (DLWA) is a vital link in nearly 500,000 acres of contiguous conservation land. Debsconeag means "carrying place," named by native people for the portage sites where they carried their birch bark canoes around rapids and waterfalls. The DLWA contains the highest concentration of pristine, remote ponds in New England and thousands of acres of mature forests.
Except for some areas around pre-existing camp lots the DLWA is managed as an ecological reserve. Ecological reserves are areas set aside for the conservation and study of Maine’s ecosystems. Ideally, reserves are large enough to withstand storms, diseases, and other natural disturbances and to provide secure habitat for wide-ranging species like moose, fisher, bobcat, and pine marten. Ecological reserves are important to scientists studying how nature responds to challenges such as climate change, forest pests and diseases, and airborne pollution. Find more information on the Debsconeags Here.
The Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, generally known as the Appalachian Trail or simply the A.T., is a marked hiking trail in the eastern United States extending between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. The trail is about 2,200 miles (3,500 km)[a] long, though the precise length changes over time as parts are modified or rerouted. The trail passes through the states of Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
The Appalachian Trail was completed in 1937 after more than a decade of work, although improvements and changes continue. It is maintained by 31 trail clubs and multiple partnerships, and managed by the National Park Service, United States Forest Service, and the nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The majority of the trail is in forest or wild lands, although some portions traverse towns, roads and farms. The trail conservancy claims that the Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking-only trail in the world.
At least 2 million people are said to do at least a one day-hike on the trail each year. Thru-hikers attempt to hike it in its entirety in a single season — more than 2,700 people thru-hiked the trail in 2014 — and some hike from one end to the other, then turn around and thru-hike the trail the other way, known as a "yo-yo". Many books, memoirs, web sites, and fan organizations are dedicated to these pursuits. If you are a beginner, here is an entire site dedicated to resources that can assist you in planning. Find more information about the A.T. Here
The International Appalachian Trail
The International Appalachian Trail (IAT; French: Sentier international des Appalaches, SIA) is a hiking trail which runs from the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Mount Katahdin, Maine, through New Brunswick, to the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec, after which it takes a ferry ride to Newfoundland, and then continues to the north-easternmost point of the Appalachian Mountains at Belle Isle, Newfoundland, and Labrador.
Further sections have been designated within Great Britain and Ireland, and there are proposals to extend it further within Europe and North Africa. Geological evidence shows that the Appalachian Mountains, certain mountains of Western Europe, and the Anti-Atlas range in North Africa are parts of the ancient Central Pangean Mountains, made when minor supercontinents collided to form the supercontinent Pangaea more than 250 million years ago. With the break-up of Pangaea, sections of the former range remained with the continents as they drifted to their present locations. Inspired by this evidence, efforts are being made to extend the IAT into Western Europe and North Africa.
The Snowmobiling ITS - Interconnecting Trail System
Thousands of miles of maintained snowmobile trails throughout Maine are available to followers of this exciting and popular winter sport. Many of the trails interconnect and adventurous snowmobilers can travel extensively, even beyond Maine's borders into Canada and New Hampshire. This growing network of trails is the product of a cooperative program between snowmobile clubs, municipalities, private landowners, and the Bureau of Parks and Lands. Find an Interactive Map Here.
The Penobscot River - East and West Branch
The Penobscot River, including its north, south, east, and west branches, is the longest river entirely in Maine. Its branches originate along the Canadian border in northwestern Maine, and near the headwaters of the Allagash at the northwest corner of Baxter State Park. The East and West Branches converge in Medway, just downstream from the Town of Millinocket, forming the main stem of the river which then flows 70 miles south to the head of tide in Bangor.
The watersheds associated with the Penobscot’s four branches are forested and only sparsely settled and developed. An exception to this is the rivers themselves, which have dams in many locations to provide storage that assures year-round flows for commerce and industry downstream. The Penobscot’s main stem flows past towns and developments, especially at its south end from Old Town to Bangor. The variety of habitats found throughout the Penobscot drainage support many game fish species, including brook trout, landlocked salmon, smallmouth bass, white perch, and chain pickerel. Anglers can select sections of river to fish based on their preferences for species they desire to catch. More information on the East and West Branch here. Find out More Information about Penobscot River Rafting Here.
The Golden Road
The Golden Road* is a 96-mile (154 km) private road built by the Great Northern Paper Company that stretches from the St. Zacharie Border Crossing to its former mill at Millinocket, Maine. The road, which parallels the West Branch of the Penobscot River, was built between 1969 and 1972 to bring raw wood to the mill from the company's 2.1 million acres (8,500 km2) of woodland in the North Maine Woods. Before the road was built logs were floated down the river to the mill.
The 32 miles (51 km) of the road from the Millinocket mill to Ripogenus Dam was paved and the remaining 65 miles (105 km) is stone.
Great Northern had always allowed private drivers access to the road (except for the portion next to the mill) and it is a major thoroughfare into the North Woods for sportsmen and white water paddlers on the Penobscot. The road's name is often believed to have been because of its cost (Great Northern said in the 1980s the cost of maintaining its road network was $6.8 million/year) but company officials said the road was actually considered a big cost savings—noting that shipping timber down the river took about 18 months and there would be some loss of logs in the process; the road shortened the process to a few days. Others believe that the road was named after its appearance; the color of the dirt was so yellow that the road appeared to be the color gold.
Great Northern's economic hold on the road has greatly diminished, and it announced plans to tear down almost all of the buildings at the Millinocket mill. The road is now owned by four companies. A proposal in 2007 for the state of Maine to investigate acquiring the road was defeated. *From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Millinocket Mill closed in 2008; in 2017, a volunteer organization, Our Katahdin, purchased the property from the Town of Millinocket with the intent of redeveloping it into a new business. They have slowly received grants to improve the property, and in 2022 renamed the property to One North.
Nahmakanta Public Lands - Source Maine.gov
Hikers, campers, hunters, fishermen, snowmobilers, and paddlers all enjoy the rugged hills, abundant wildlife, and clear waters of this remote region southwest of Baxter State Park. The Nahmakanta Public Lands encompass 43,000 acres of sprawling forests and low mountains (the largest stands at 2,524 feet). Numerous streams and brooks course down steep slopes and run through narrow gorges. Within Nahmakanta's boundary lie 24 "great ponds" (10 or more acres in size) and more than 50 miles of undeveloped shoreline.
An extensive network of hiking trails leads visitors along lakeshores, up to open ledges, and past popular attractions like Tumbledown Dick Falls and Pollywog Gorge, a mile-long gorge with sheer walls that rise 180 feet. The Nahmakanta portion of the Appalachian Trail (AT) lies within the upper reaches of the 100-Mile Wilderness, considered by many to be the AT's most remote section (though not a designated "wilderness area").
During warm weather, ATV riders explore a network of shared-use roads. Fall months draw hunters in search of moose, bear, grouse, and deer. In winter, snowmobiles traverse Nahmakanta Public Lands along designated trails such as ITS 85/86 (which links Millinocket and Greenville).
Within the Nahmakanta Public Lands is the State's largest Ecological Reserve, an 11,802-acre expanse that includes much of the property's 9,200-acre roadless area (known as the Debsconeag Backcountry). The State's Ecological Reserve designation ensures that sensitive plant communities will remain in their natural condition and be monitored over time.
The Nahmakanta Public Lands lie in the heart of a diverse complex of approximately 500,000 conserved acres that runs from Katahdin Iron Works in the south to Baxter State Park in the north.