Hiking Maine’s Baxter Park by Greg Westrich

Greg Westrich joins me in loving Baxter Park, and his new book,
Hiking Maine’s Baxter Park, is a FalconGuide that will propel you up and over some of Baxter’s wonderful mountains, and to its beautiful ponds and waterfalls.
Baxter Park is the back yard for our camp on Sourdnahunk Lake, and we have climbed all of Mount Katahdin’s trails, and all the other mountains in the park that have trails. We even hiked one mountain that has no trail, to see a plane that crashed there during World War 2.
Greg started hiking and writing 7 years ago and has authored four FalconGuides and mapped more than 500 hikes in Maine. He’s clearly more ambitious than me!
The Baxter guide is very thorough including maps of each hike, directions to the trail head including parking, and lots of tips. I especially loved his tip about the hike up Mt Coe, my favorite hike in the park.
“The west side of the Klondike is lined with rugged mountains: Mounts O-J-I, Coe, and North and South Brothers,” writes Greg. “All four are connected by trails, but it’s not recommended to climb more than two at a time. They’re just too challenging.”
I sure do wish I’d had Greg’s advice before the Memorial Day that my daughter Rebekah and I hiked all four of those mountains. Yup, they were some old challenging! I do have a great photo of Rebekah sitting on a pile of ice and snow near the top of Coe.
I also had a near-death experience once while climbing O-J-I. Two friends and I were enjoying a picnic at the top of the mountain when we spotted a thunder storm heading our way.
We packed up quickly and started hustling down the trail, but the storm arrived almost immediately, drenching us with a hard rain. Lightning flashes came right at us up the trail as we sprinted along – I can still see them as I write this column.
Greg’s guide will now be a permanent resident at our camp. And the guide isn’t just about mountains. He includes other hikes to ponds and waterfalls, and several overnight hikes. He also tells you about the best hikes to experience history, for families, for swimming, for wildlife, for canoeing, and even to pick blueberries.

I can tell you that some of the ponds he mentioned offer great fishing. I do have to thank him for not mentioning the remote brooks I love to fish in Baxter, where I never see another angler. He did give away our favorite place for blueberries. See you there!

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.