BSP Permit Limit FAQs
Baxter State Park 2021 A.T. Hiker Permit FAQs
In 2017, Baxter State Park instituted an Appalachian Trail (A.T.) Hiker Permit system which limits the number of permit cards available to long-distance 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.
This FAQ was last updated on 05/25/2023.
How do I acquire an A.T. Hiker Permit for Baxter State Park?
Permits are available at Katahdin Stream Campground, located at the base of the Hunt Trail, the A.T. route up Katahdin.
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. You will not need this card to begin your hike at Springer Mountain or any other location.
How long will the permit be valid?
Permits will be date stamped when acquired. The permit will be valid for 7 days after the date of acquisition.
Is Katahdin Stream Campground right on the trail?
Katahdin Stream Campground is directly on the Trail within the Park. The ranger station is across the stream from the main campground.
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. long-distance hikers in the park who have not left the A.T. corridor since Monson, will continue to be $10 per person. This campsite has a 12-person limit. There is a fee for hikers entering the park by vehicle and there is a fee for Day Use Parking Reservation (DUPR) for the Katahdin trailheads. Visit the park website for more information.
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 to A.T. hikers if the A.T. hiker permit limit is reached. The hiker permit limit has never been reached. If it happens in a future season, The Birches (the campsite set aside for northbound long-distance hikers) will close. A.T. hikers will then have two alternatives. They may make a reservation for the night before they summit at another campground in Baxter State Park. Or they may leave the park and spend the night before they summit in Millinocket; they would then return to the Park the following morning to climb Katahdin. There are shuttles available between Millinocket and Katahdin Stream Campground; inquire at the Monson A.T. Visitor Center for information on shuttle providers. A vehicle dropping off a hiker at Katahdin Stream to climb the mountain must have one of the following: either a Day Use Parking Reservation for Katahdin Stream for that day or a camping reservation for Katahdin Stream for that evening (one person on board the vehicle must have one of these two reservations). It may not be possible to obtain a camping or Day Use Parking Reservation for the desired date, meaning that hikers would need to delay their summit date. Regardless of permit availability, we encourage all thru-hikers to plan to complete their hike by October 15 because weather on Katahdin is unpredictable in late fall, late-season hiking can cause undue impacts to the alpine zone, and the park closes the Hunt Trail for the season each fall.
What are the best days of the week to climb Katahdin?
Midweek is best, particularly after school starts in early September. Always try to avoid Saturdays, the busiest day for all other park visitors.
Are there any days I should plan to avoid climbing Katahdin?
Yes, if possible, schedule your hike to avoid climbing Katahdin or camping in the park on Labor Day weekend, the busiest weekend of the year.
How does Baxter define “A.T. long-distance hiker” (in other words, who exactly needs a permit)?
All backpackers who enter or exit the Park via the A.T. need a permit. In order to stay at the Birches Long Distance Hiker Campsite, hikers should have completed at least 100 miles of the A.T. contiguous to the Park immediately prior to entering the Park. In other words, they should have hiked continuously northward—without leaving the A.T.—from Monson or a point farther south. Getting picked up partway through the 100 Mile Wilderness and leaving the A.T. (for example, to stay a night at a hostel) disqualifies a hiker from staying at the Birches.
Will I be able to find out whether the quota has been reached?
Yes. Hikers can check in at the Monson A.T. Visitor Center for up-to-date information on the permit system and the number of remaining permits. There will also be information at the kiosk as hikers enter Baxter State Park, 0.7 mile north of Abol Bridge. Please see the question above as to what hikers need to do if the permit limit has been reached.
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.
Should I still register my hike using the ATC’s voluntary A.T. Thru-Hiker Registration, ATCamp?
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, make sure to share the summit with other hikers, and save alcohol for later. Learn more about how to help preserve this special place.