MORE INFORMATION: Appalachian Trail Conservancy 799 West Washington Street Harpers Ferry, WV 25425 (304) 535-6331
HIGHLIGHTS: Thru-hikers that start their journey in Georgia spend four to six months thinking about Maine. However, there are 280 miles of trail in the state and it’s still a long way to the northern terminus at Mount Katahdin from the New Hampshire border. Maine is arguably the toughest state on the Appalachian Trail, and even the Appalachian Trail Conference (ATC) does not recommend it for novice hikers. Many thru-hikers slow down to less than a mile an hour in some areas, particularly in the Mahoosuc Notch in the southwestern part of the state.
Although the elevations seldom top 4,000 feet in Maine, the terrain is very difficult. There are frequent rock scrambles and numerous river and stream crossings that require fording (since the spring runoff washes away the smaller bridges that are found in most other states). The Kennebec River is the largest ford and it can be a difficult and potentially life-threatening crossing when the water is high. Fortunately, the ATC has contracted for a part-time ferry service to assist hikers that runs at designated hours from late May through mid-October.
Though difficult, Maine has some of the most pristine and remote wilderness along the Appalachian Trail. Many thru-hikers say it is their favorite state, particularly in the late summer and fall after the black flies have disappeared. This section from the NH/ME Border to the Kennebec River has climbs over major mountains including Bigelow, Sugarloaf, Saddleback, Old Blue, Baldplate and the Mahoosuc Range. There are miles of trail above treeline, and the alpine areas offer amazing views of the northern wilderness.