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The Appalachian Trail, which spans 14 states and starts in Springer Mountain Georgia, celebrated its 75th birthday in 2016. This storied trail’s final 281 miles is in Maine and the northern terminus is at the top of Mount Katahdin. Along the trail in Maine, you’ll find backcountry campsites spaced 15 to 20 miles apart. There are also lean-to shelters and tent sites along the eastern section of the trail from Mt. Katahdin to Monson, the central section from Monson to the Bigelow Mountain Range, and the western section from Bigelow to the New Hampshire border. Sites are free and first-come, first-served with the exception of those inside Baxter State Park. You'll need to a pay to camp overnight and hikers must register at one of the three park entrances. Camping reservations can be made in advance and are recommended. You should pack out all trash and store food out of reach from animals on all sections of the trail.
Here are some of the more accessible high points along the way, suitable for short backpacking treks:
- The western section of the AT in Maine passes through Grafton Notch State Park in the Mahoosucs Range, part of the White Mountains. The park offers 3,000 miles of terrain and is home to Old Speck Mountain, Maine’s third-highest peak. You can access Old Speck at the AT Trailhead in the park.
- The central section of the AT in Maine crosses between Monson and the Bigelow Preserve, 36,000 acres of public land encompassing the entire Bigelow Range, with its extensive trail system navigating seven peaks. You can follow the AT along the above-treeline Bigelow Preserve Trail or choose many less-demanding loops.
- The eastern section of the AT in Maine, from Monson to the northern terminus at Mt. Katahdin, is sometimes called "The Hundred Mile Wilderness," a final stretch of mountains, lakes, ponds, streams and forest. The AT crosses Barren Mountain, skirting Slugundy Gorge and Falls. A loop off the trail takes you to Gulf Hagas, "the Grand Canyon of Maine," with its five major waterfalls. Reaching the summit of White Cap Mountain, you’ll see spectacular views of Mt. Katahdin in the distance.
For more trails along the AT in Maine, check out Trails.com.