Posted on June 16, 2023 and last updated on June 17, 2023

Katahdin Lake trails, Baxter State Park


  • Preserve Size: 209,644 acres
  • Trail Mileage: Varies, ~10 miles in network
  • Pets: no
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Sights: Martin Ponds, Katahdin Lake, views, narrow beach

The system of trails here are mostly flat, and bring you to the shores of Martin Pond and Kathadin Lake (in about 2.5 miles and 3.5 miles, respectively, via the most direct routes). When I walked here on a Monday in June, I encountered only one other person who was camping at the quiet north end of Katahdin Lake. We thought we might have heard a moose splashing in the water.

The other sounds filling the forest on this warm day in mid-June were warbler songs. I heard so many different ones! Blackburnian, Magnolia, Nashville, Pine, American Redstart, Northern Parula, Black-throated Blue and Green, as well as vireos, thrushes, kinglets (both Ruby-throated and Golden-crowned), and hawks.

From the parking area off Roaring Brook Road (at Avalanche Field), Katahdin Lake Trail follows a fairly flat, wide track for about 1.8 miles, when it reaches the intersection with Martin Ponds Trail. Take a left here and in about 0.7 miles, you’ll reach the pond and lean-to, with lovely views of Katahdin. The pond trail swoops back east toward Katahdin Lake, which you’ll reach in about 2 miles from the lean-to.

When Martin Ponds Trail reaches the lake, it spits you out onto the narrow beach. A sign here instructs hikers to hike along the beach for 300 yards to catch the trail again. Halfway along the beach, you’ll have to cross the stream inlet. Thankfully the water is not too deep if you do a wide arc around the stream mouth into the lake. I managed to not attract any leeches, either. You can sit on the beach and enjoy the view of Katahdin while drying your feet. The path behind you is easy to find, and heads back into the woods.

At the initial intersection of Katahdin Lake Trail and Martin Ponds Trail, you can also go right to get to the lake more directly. In about 1.5 miles, you’ll reach the skinny, sandy beach along the south end of Katahdin Lake. There are views of Katahdin from here. If you keep going farther east, either along the trail or along the beach, you’ll arrive at the cabins of Katahdin Lake Wilderness Camps. The camp had been shut down for some years when I visited in 2023, and at least two people wistfully told me they hoped it might reopen one day.

On the day I walked in this area, I also headed north, along the 2.5-mile North Katahdin Lake Trail, to check out the far northern end of the lake. This trail is less traveled, and the day I hiked it had some blowdowns, was a bit overgrown in a couple of areas and wet in others, and also had one tricky stream crossing. Be careful on slippery bog bridges. But the scene up there is very peaceful.

Additionally, you can continue your hike from the northern end of Katahdin Lake to the very remote Twin Ponds, another 3.5 miles north. But the ranger told me the park doesn’t maintain the trail, and a camper told me that unless you want to fish there, the ponds are not really worth the long uphill hike to the ponds. Could be a nice hike if you’re staying at either of the lean-tos in this area.

Direction: The trailhead is off Roaring Brook Road. From Togue Pond Gatehouse, go left onto Roaring Brook Road for about 6.5 miles. The parking area is on the left, at Avalanche Field, and the trail begins on the other side of the road.

Let me know if you have any trail updates or corrections!