The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument (KAWW) is one of the nation’s newest national treasures. In the eastern shadow of Mt. Katahdin, it is an area of pristine woods and waters (hence the name).
It also an amazing place to snowmobile in Northern Maine.
Snowmobile Trails Near Katahdin
There was a fair bit of uncertainty as to whether the snowmobile trails would remain once the 87,500 acre area was designated as a National Monument in 2016. But they have. And good thing too, because a key section of Maine’s Interconnected Trail System (ITS 85) runs in and out of the Monument in three places.
In all, there are about 22 miles of trails within the boundaries of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. They’re maintained by the local snowmobile club as part of Maine’s larger network of snowmobile trails which cover thousands of miles.
However, many of the trails inside the Monument are multiuse so sledders are advised to be cautious. The Monument, with its spectacular views, is popular among cross-country skiiers and other winter outdoors enthusiasts.
A Scenic Maine Snowmobile Destination in Maine
With it being so new, the Monument hasn’t been discovered by the masses yet. That means it’s comparatively quiet compared to a lot of other areas along the ITS. This affords savvy sledders the opportunity to experience north Maine wilderness the best way possible: alone.
According to an article in the Bangor Daily News, visitation to the Monument in 2017 is expected to be around 15,000 visitors. And while that’s about quadruple the number of people that visited the year before, it’s still not many. Maine’s state parks averaged over 63,000 visitors in the same time span.
Bad for tourism departments, good for snowmobilers wanting to escape the crowds.
Katahdin Wilderness by Snowmobile: What to See in KAWW
The Monument is mostly forest, much of which is pretty thick. It’s the kind of habitat that harbors Maine’s finest wildlife: black bears, moose, bobcat, Canada lynx, and more. The area is very undeveloped (though not to the degree of Baxter State Park), and subsequently lacks some of the modern amenities we’ve come to expect on the trail system such as signage and road and bridge improvements.
But really, that’s probably part of the allure. And that’ll all come in due time. As is, the place is a great place to take in some amazing scenery. The area lies just east of Baxter State Park, home to Mt. Katahdin itself and a number of other ranges.
Katahdin Wilderness, but a Bit Less Protected
While it’s still fairly remote, it’s not nearly as inaccessible as Baxter State Park. Much of Baxter is permanently protected as a wilderness area. Roads are discouraged and just getting into the park is a bit of a task. Then once you’re in, you have to abide by a rather low speed limit (for good reason, the trails are multiuse). But the KAWW isn’t as heavily regulated and it’s a bit more accessible from roads and ITS routes.
Where is Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument?
The main part of the Monument lies between the eastern boundary of Baxter State Park and the East Branch Penobscot River. But there are a few tracts of land that are part of the monument that lie east of the river. Those are the ones that are open to snowmobiling (and hunting too, FYI).
The northeastern most tract abuts the south shore of Lower Shin Pond. The Shin Pond area is about 15 miles north up ITS 81 from the 112 Connector just north of Patten. Riding a loop from Patten, to Shin Pond, down through the rideable tracts of KAWW along ITS 85 and back up to Patten via ITS 83 and 81 would be about a 60 mile loop.
And a pretty great day of sledding.
Snowmobile Lodging in Patten Maine at Camp Katahdin
Camp Katahdin offers three rental properties in Patten Maine that sit right on the 112 Connector near ITS 81 of Maine’s Interconnected Trail System. We are truly “sled-in-sled-out” lodging. Bring your sleds and trailers there’s plenty of room for everyone. We do recommend checking in with our fantastic local snowmobile club for tips and conditions. The Rockabema Snow Rangers maintain our trails regularly and since trail info can change from day to day, they are a great resource! With all these snow storms we are set with good sledding until Memorial Day! Pictured is our 15 bed, luxury lodge – perfect for your unique group. Find out about all our properties here: