Walking Above the Clouds: The Maine Appalachian Trail

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One of the truly great summer adventures that Chewonki offers each year is the chance to leave the human-built spaces behind and journey access the vibrant in-land forest trails.

Stretching over 2,000 miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mount Katahdin, Maine, the Appalachian Trail winds through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the country. But ask any experienced hiker and they’ll tell you that the Maine section is one of the most challenging – and most rewarding – parts of the trail system.

With Chewonki campers, we start just north of Monson, Maine, (the last north-bound town on the AT), and enter the “100-Mile Wilderness”, a stretch of territory from the Barren Chairback Range to Baxter State Park. This section of the trail is the longest stretch of uninterrupted hiking on the AT, with few roads or people along the way.

Most of the campsites through this stretch are lean-to sites, but our hikers also bring tents for shelter. Along the way, we have the chance to explore interesting areas like “the Hermitage”, an area of old-growth forest, and the distinctive Gulf Hagas Gorge. And if the timing is right, there may be some trail magic along the way – wild raspberries and blueberries – they make for delicious trail treats!

But the real highlight of the trip is the accent of Katahdin, which marks the northern terminus of the AT. Known as “the greatest mountain” in the Wabanaki language, Katahdin is a challenging hike that tests the group’s endurance and courage, especially the famed “Knife Edge,” a narrow 1.1 mile exposed traverse between Baxter Peak and Pamola Peak. But the views from the top are more than worth the effort.

Throughout the trip we also have plenty of chances to learn about the natural history and ecology of the place- moose, bear, beaver, eagles, deer, and other wildlife are common sights on the trail.

Best of all, there is something magical about working together as a group, traveling down the long trail and climbing to the top of Katahdin. Despite the tired feet and challenging weather, sharing the views and experiences with friends builds those memories that last a lifetime. 

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