May 26, 2012

The real sign of the start of the Baxter Park season is when the trails open.  When hikers start coming to the Park and Katahdin trails open, the summer season is here.  Simply put, our hiking trails are the heart of the Park, but maintaining and managing our hiking trails is anything but simple.

Baxter Park maintains over 215 miles of hiking trails, including trails in some of the most challenging and beautiful terrain in the Northeast. Maintaining these trails requires constant effort and the careful application of limited resources. In recent years Park managers have focused attention to trail maintenance with the goal of improving trail conditions and lowering maintenance costs over the next two decades. During the summer of 2011, we completed an trail inventory on the majority of Park trails with the remaining inventory work scheduled for completion in 2012. The importance of this work to the Park cannot be overestimated and we will be applying this large dataset now at our disposal to help us in planning cost-effective improvements in the Park’s great trail system in the years to come. Park Resource Manager Rick Morrill has developed a very good summary presentation of the inventory work.  If you have a few minutes, check out this slide presentation, it will give you a deeper understanding of what goes into the trail beneath your feet the next time you hike in Baxter.

The snow is melting quickly on the eastside Katahdin trails.  We will be opening the Cathedral Trail on Sunday, May 27.  The Saddle Trail should be open in a week or two when the remaining snow melts in the Great Basin.  Black flies are enjoying a good start on the year and you should be prepared to cope with these well known parts of the ecology of Maine if you plan to hike in the Park in the next month or more.