In August, we went on our epic trip to Maine. Our favourite part of the whole trip was Baxter State Park. It is a beautiful, quiet, comfortable place to stay—unscathed by tourists and the paved roads, selfie sticks, and waste receptacles that they require. It was, for us, a dream destination for a road trip: car camping so we did not have to haul expedition packs with us for 2,000 kms, hiking trails aplenty ranging from easy to arduous, and incredible beauty! We could have spent a whole week in Baxter and still left with a list of trails to explore.
to help locate hikers should they go missing.
South Branch Mountain (map) was a much more ambitious hike with a 4-year-old. With an elevation gain of appx. 2,175 feet over a fairly short distance, we pushed ourselves to help our kiddo climb her first “mountain” (peak: 2,600 feet).
This hike begins with a river crossing then quickly enters a wooded area where the trail follows a meandering brook before quickly beginning to climb. It is a difficult trail not to be attempted with kids without experience. We gave ourselves a full day knowing that we would be slower with a wee one. We were right! We got off the trail just in time for supper and completely soaked in the midst of a complete downpour that lasted well into the night.
We pretended this was a castle, which made climbing it fun!
Despite the trail’s difficulty, our daughter loved it. She was euphoric when we reached the top, and I was so proud of our accomplishment that I welled up. The climb back down was extremely tricky with a wee one, and once the trail leveled out again, we opted for babywearing both to hike faster and because kiddo was completely exhausted.
Best $90 I spent as a parent!
This was our most intense hike of the trip, and we cannot wait to return to Baxter over the years to hike more of the peaks with our kiddo. Before we know it, she will be climbing Katahdin with us!
General Notes about Baxter State Park
- No running water or flush toilets. Bring your own drinking water. Cleanest outhouses I have ever used.
- Waterproof maps are available for purchase at the park entrances. (Price was $11 in 2015.)
- It takes over 1.5 hours to get from one end of the park to the other.
- There are park permit fees.
- This park has a really committed group of rangers who will want to know about your plans and make sure that you know their expectations of you as a camper.