Snowmobiling in Baxter State Park: High Adventure at Low Speeds. Baxter State Park is the home of Mt. Katahdin, numerous other peaks and ridges, and permanently protected north Maine wilderness. It is a remote place with very limited access. The park’s theme is “Wilderness first, recreation second.” Three-quarters of the park is managed as a wildlife sanctuary.
But protected and remote as Baxter State Park is, it’s not completely inaccessible to those wanting to take in the Park’s wild splendor by snowmobile.
Snowmobiling in Baxter State Park, Maine
Unlike many other parts of Maine, there are no groomed trails within Baxter State Park. Instead, the Park allows snowmobiles on the Perimeter, or Park Tote Road. This road, which more or less encircles the north, west, and south ends of the Park, becomes a multiuse, ungroomed trail in the winter open to skiers, snowshoers, and snowmobiles. It is the only route in the park that allows snowmobiles.
Since it is a multiuse trail shared with other visitors traveling on foot power, the park enforces a strict 20 MPH speed limit on snowmobiles.
Snowmobiling Around Katahdin
Aside from the obvious safety factor, the low speed requirement in the Park results in an entirely different sledding experience than what you’ll find on the thousands of miles of the Maine Interconnected Trail System (ITS). Baxter is home to the namesake mountain of the Katahdin region of Maine. Nowhere else gives you the chance to get as close to the Great Mountain as this ride.
But Baxter offers so much more than just an intimate look at Katahdin.
Katahdin Wilderness by Snowmobile
Sure, Mount Katahdin may be the largest and most prominent peak within the park but there are 40 or so other peaks and ridges that add to the stunning views there.
There are two primary sets of ranges within the park. The rugged Katahdin range at the south end of the park is made of pink and white granite and includes features such as Baxter Peak (the tallest), Pamola, Hamlin, and South Peaks, and the renowned Knife Edge ridgeline.
The north end of the park contains the Traveler Range which contains The Traveler Mountain itself (the eighth-most prominent peak in Maine). Other features in this range include the Peak of the Ridges and North and South Traveler mountains. In contrast to the granite-dominated Katahdin range, the Traveler Range consists of rhyolite and features “prominent columnar jointing” in many places, giving it a much different look than the Katahdin Range.
Side note here (because I know you’re curious): The Traveler got its name from past loggers who used the East Branch Penobscot River and noticed that the distant mountain seemed to move with them as they traveled downriver.
All of this mountainous glory is complimented by wilderness the likes of which exists in few places anymore. Seemingly untouched by man, the 209,000+ acres of Baxter State Park offer forest views broken only by the mountains, lakes, ponds, and rivers that exist today practically as they did not long after glaciers left them behind.
Glacial features are abundant throughout the park, having created numerous ponds and mountain features including the Knife Edge arête in the Katahdin Range and the U-shaped valley that runs north to south from the Travelers to South Turner.
The Baxter State Park Perimeter Road is an incredible scenic adventure and even with the low speed requirement and lack of trail grooming, it is a welcome departure from the faster, longer, and more developed trail adventures that await you outside the Park.
From Camp Katahdin, the Perimeter Road in Baxter State Park can be ridden in the course of a day trip from Camp. Park entrances can be found at the south end toward Millinocket and at the north end toward Shin Pond, both of which are 50-or-so miles on the ITS.
(Pictured is our snowmobile lodge, Denney Lodge at Camp Katahdin, located in Patten, Maine)
As always, be sure to let others know where you plan to ride and when you plan to return. If possible, ride with a friend, especially when heading deep into the wilderness areas. When you are snowmobiling in Maine, be sure to carry the essentials and, in this case, a camera too. You might also like this article, Scenic Snowmobile Trails Near Katahdin and our Snowmobile Lodge: Top 3 day trips from Camp Katahidn.
Patten Maine Snowmobile Club and Safety
The trails mentioned here can change from year to year due to logging and even change during the season. This blog post is for informational purposes only. Please take care and time to plan your snowmobile trips by contacting the local snowmobile clubs. Here’s the link to our local club, the Rockabema Snow Rangers. They tend to have a full time snow groomer at night and keep our local trails in awesome condition.
Enjoy the views!
Denney Lodge at Camp Katahdin is a luxury Hunting Lodge in Northern Maine that sits right on Maine’s ITS Connector 112. It has 15 beds and comes with a brand new chef’s kitchen. Step out your door and jump on your sleds to connector 112 for an amazing day trip. Read more about our lodge here: