Baxter State Park 2017 A.T. Hiker Permit FAQs

On February 1, 2017, Baxter State Park announced a new Appalachian Trail (A.T.) Hiker Permit system, which limits the number of permit cards available to thru-hikers seeking to climb Katahdin to the northern terminus of the Trail. We have compiled some of the most common questions below about the logistics of this system, and we will continue to update this page as more information becomes available from the Park.

This FAQ was last updated on 2-9-2017

How do I acquire an A.T. Hiker Permit for Baxter State Park?

Permits will be available at Katahdin Stream Campground and at Baxter State Park headquarters in Millinocket, Maine.

Do northbound hikers have to go all the way to Maine and register for their permit card before starting their thru-hike?

No, you will acquire your permit card upon arrival at the Katahdin Stream Campground ranger station or at Baxter State Park Headquarters in Millinocket, Maine. You will not need this card to begin your hike at Springer Mountain or any other location.

Is Baxter State Park Headquarters or Katahdin Stream Campground right on the trail?

Baxter State Park Headquarters is in Millinocket, while Katahdin Stream Campground is directly on the Trail within the Park. You will be able to acquire an A.T. Hiker Permit at either location.

What information must I provide to Baxter State Park in order to receive my permit card?

You will need to provide your trail name, real name and emergency contact information.

Is there a fee for this permit?

No, the permits are free. The fee to stay at the Birches campsite, which is set aside for northbound A.T. thru-hikers in the park, will continue to be $10 per person. This campsite has a 12-person limit. Hikers entering the park for the day via Togue Pond pay a $15 fee for a Day Use Parking Reservation.

What is the best day of the week to climb Katahdin?

Midweek is best, particularly after school starts in early September. Always try to avoid Saturdays.

What will happen to me if I arrive at Baxter State Park after all of the thru-hiker permits have already been claimed?

Katahdin will not be closed to A.T. hikers if the A.T. hiker permit limit is reached. If that happens, A.T. hikers will need to comply with the day use or campground permitting limits. They will need to leave the Park and then re-enter through Togue Pond Date as a day-use visitor to the Park. We still encourage all thru-hikers to plan to complete their hikes by October 15 because weather on Katahdin is unpredictable in late fall.

Should I still register my hike using the ATC’s voluntary A.T. Thru-Hiker Registration?

The ATC’s Thru-Hiker Registration system remains an important tool to spread out hikers along the entire Trail, including the number of hikers entering Baxter at one time. The ATC created the Voluntary Thru-Hiker Registration system to alleviate negative resource and social impacts by large concentrations (groups or “bubbles”) of hikers. This registration system encourages hikers to avoid starting their hikes on dates and locations that experience above-normal use. As more thru-hikers successfully use this tool — even as the total number of hikers increases — it will effectively spread out their use over time and space along the 2,190 miles of the Trail, exerting less pressure on areas sensitive to high use from Georgia through Maine.

Will I need to speed up the pace of my thru-hike in order to make sure I get a permit?

No. Katahdin will not be closed if the A.T. Hiker Permit limit is reached. If the limit is reached, A.T. hikers will need to comply with the day-use or campground permitting limits: they will need to leave the Park and then re-enter through Togue Pond Gate as day-use visitors to the Park. However, this may require a delay during peak seasons in the park, as daily entry quotas at Togue Pond are based on the number of vehicles allowed in the Park.

What will happen if I do not comply with the hiker registration?

A.T. hikers who do not acquire a permit will be issued a summons and a fine according to the rules laid out by the Baxter State Park Authority.

If an aspiring southbound thru-hiker abandons their thru-hike after summiting Katahdin, will they be able to “free up” their permit card for another hiker?

No. This permit applies only to the northernmost 5 miles of the A.T. (also known as the Hunt Trail) that ascends Katahdin only. The hiker card limit pertains to self-described thru-hikers that traverse this section of the Trail.

What can I do to help the park preserve the beauty of its fragile resources and help ensure future A.T. hikers will be able to enjoy it?

All hikers, whether they enter the Park on the A.T. or in cars through Togue Pond Gate, must tread carefully and hike respectfully in order to preserve the natural resources of the Park. Hikers should always follow Leave No Trace practices and educate themselves on regulations prior to entering the park. Always be sure to carry enough food, water and clothing for the weather on Katahdin; to hike on established trails only; to camp only at designated sites; to carry out trash; and to respect other visitors to the Park.

How long is the A.T. section through Baxter State Park?

There are 14.4 miles of the A.T. in Baxter State Park. 5.2 miles follow the Hunt Trail on Katahdin. The remaining 9.2 connect the Katahdin Stream Campground area to Abol Bridge.

What can I do to help Baxter State Park preserve its fragile natural resources and help ensure future A.T. hikers and other visitors will be able to enjoy it?

Follow Park regulations and practice Leave No Trace ethics in the Park. In particular, hike alone or in small groups, celebrate quietly at the summit and make sure to share the summit with other hikers and save alcohol for later.

Will this new system ultimately lead to the relocation of the northern terminus of the A.T.?

The ATC currently has no plans to relocate either terminus of the Appalachian Trail.