Katahdin Woods and Waters, in beautiful Penobscot, Maine, is a wild natural monument and park system with minimal staff and services but many opportunities for outdoor fun. Guests will enjoy mountain biking, fishing, hunting, hiking, and camping with the whole family in the great outdoors.
Established as a national monument and park by President Obama in 2016, Katahdin is one of the more recent additions to the national parks system. The park includes more than 80,000 acres of land on the eastern edge of Baxter State Park in Maine. A portion of the park was actually purchased by one of the founders of the Burt's Bees corporation. There has been some vocal opposition to the park, mostly due to the encroaching on the lands of citizens of some portions of rural Maine. The area itself dates back 150 million years to the Paleolithic Era.
Katahdin Woods was designed with limited signage and services, which makes every visit to this new national park an adventure. The area remains a wild, untamed place which is perfect for guests who enjoy less structured outdoor activities.
Due to those limited services, it is important to check the website for a list of current road conditions. Many of the roads will occasionally be impassable or dangerous due to mud, fallen trees, and other issues.
The best place to start during a visit to Katahdin is by taking the Katahdin Loop Road drive. The loop is 17 miles long and provides guests the best opportunities to view the southern side of the monument. There are areas along the loop for cars to pull off as well, with sweeping scenic views of the woods. Also, located just off the road, are several trails that can be hiked. The loop road takes about an hour and a half to drive completely. There is also an interactive guide available for download prior to a visit with more information.
Guests who enter the park through the North entrance will have a variety of outdoor activities to choose from. Enjoy kayaking and canoeing down the Penobscot River on its East Branch. The area is also perfect for mountain biking (only on the gravel roads and designated trails), hiking, and fishing (with a valid license). There are multiple waterfalls in this part of the park as well.
Hunting is allowed in the park as long as hunters have an active state hunting license in Maine. The designated hunting areas are located to the east of the Penobscot River’s East Branch and are marked in dark green on the map. Be advised that chase dogs and bear baiting/trapping is not allowed.
Many guests also enjoy camping while visiting Katahdin. Sites are available on a first come, first serve basis and no dogs will be allowed. No fee is required as well, and campfires are allowed as long as weather conditions permit.
When visiting in the winter months, guests should try snowmobiling. Designated routes run from the north to the south just east of the Penobscot River’s East Branch. Routes may vary slightly yearly depending on what else is going on at the park, so check the website for the most up to date information.
Due to the lack of services available at Katahdin, there are few special events hosted there. However, there are a few during the year to keep an eye out for.
Hosted occasionally are programs designed to help children connect to nature. These programs often contain a discover walk that is on the shorter side to work with children’s often shorter attention spans. Offered free of charge and led by a park ranger or local educator, they are great for families with children of all ages and were designed to educate children about the geology of Katahdin as well as its wildlife and plant life.
Another special event occasionally offered are programs designed to educate visitors about the logging history of the park. A recent offering was the Log Driver’s Waltz. This program teaches about the history through stories, songs, and urban legends. It is offered free of charge and starts with an educational DVD presentation. This event is mainly geared toward adult visitors to the park.
Dining and Shopping
There are no dining options available in the park, due to the lack of park staff and services. However, guests are allowed and encouraged to bring their own picnic lunches to the park if they pick up all of their trash. Alcohol and grills are both strictly prohibited.
Katahdin Woods and Waters, Penobscot, ME, 04476, Phone: 207-456-6001
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