Helllloooo everyone! This past weekend I finally got to walk on Katahdin’s famous “knife edge” route, just about the raddest looking trail in the northeast!
The last few times I’d visited Baxter State Park, weather had prevented me from walking this 1-mile stretch of trail between Baxter and Pamola peaks. But finally, the gods smiled upon us, and David and I got to scramble across the knife edge! In reality, the knife edge is comfortably wide and protected, with only a few exposed scrambly bits. It still looks uber cool, though… and isn’t that the most important thing?
A bunch of jerkatrons had reserved all of the parking passes for Roaring Brook several weeks in advance, so we were forced to get a parking pass for Abol instead. The only exciting part about this was that we got to travel up the BRAND SPANKIN’ NEW rerouted Abol trail, which cuts off a large chunk of the boulder/scree scramble that made up the old Abol trail. I approve.
We had a lovely low cloud layer for most of the morning on our way up Abol, and reached Baxter peak in good time (with about 500 other hikers!). Then it was time… for the KNIFE EDGEEEEEE.
As previously mentioned, the vast majority of the knife edge is very wide and comfortable, as far as knife edges go. This is particularly true of the section immediately following Baxter peak, and the going only really gets tough as you near Pamola peak.
There are a few true scrambles on your way to Pamola, where if you fell you’d have some ouchie times. This also means there are lots of bottlenecking times, so start early ( …even though everyone on Katahdin is starting early due to the parking regulations 🙂 )!
Although the exposure on the knife edge is limited, the terrain, as expected, is very rough and rocky, and it took a looooong time to traverse that 1 mile of ridge! Like, almost 2 hours of time! I have mega bad knees and so I was probably stepping more gingerly than some, but give yourself at LEAST an hour, if not more. David is a speed freak and can traverse the ridge in ~45 minutes (with heavy traffic), to give you a sense of time scale. I was in major need of some “vitamin i” once we got to Pamola!
As you might imagine, the views along the entire ridge are amazeballsssss. Katahdin is hands down my favorite peak in the northeast (and I’ve done quite a few peaks around here, mind you!) and is the most impressive looking mountain this side of the Mississippi. Nowhere else ’round these parts will you see such impressive looking cliffs and rugged terrain, in my humble opinion. So if you can deal with the pain, go big and do that knife edge ridge, y’all! Your camera will thank you.
Random tips ‘n’ tricks:
- When in Millinocket, we stay at the luxury Ruthie’s Hotel Terrace ($70/night with taxes), which is a budget accommodation but clean with spaciously sized rooms.
- The Big Moose Inn probably has the best food in the area. Plus it’s the closest restaurant to the entrance of Baxter State Park so you can eat on your way out! And they’re used to serving smelly hikers.
- If you are 30 going on 80, or 50 going on 80, or 80 going on 80, all of the rugged trails up/down/around Katahdin are going to leave those joints aching, so come prepared, y’all! BUT IT’S WORTH THE PAIN (mostly).
- Katahdin seems to become more popular every year, but out-of-staters can only purchase parking permits 2 weeks in advance. As I mentioned above, the Roaring Brook parking area was already full before I was even eligible to purchase a pass, so start monitoring that Day Use Parking Reservation (DUPR) website early, y’all! Or get a friend with a Maine license 😀