Katahdin, Maine

Prominence: 4288 ft, 1307 m

Elevation: 5268 feet, 1606 meters

True Isolation: 158.34 mi, 254.82 km
Elevation Info:NAVD88 Elevation: 5268 ft / 1606 m
Local or Alternate Name(s)Indigenous Name: Ktaadn
Spelling Variant: Mount Katahdin
Highest SummitBaxter Peak
SubpeaksKatahdin - South Peak (5260 ft/1603 m)
Pamola Peak (4919 ft/1499 m)
Chimney Peak (4900 ft/1494 m)
Hamlin Peak (4756 ft/1450 m)
South Howe Peak (4740 ft/1445 m)
North Howe Peak (4700 ft/1433 m)
Latitude/Longitude (WGS84)45° 54' 16'' N, 68° 55' 17'' W
45.904362, -68.921392 (Dec Deg)
506097 E 5083425 N, Zone 19 (UTM)
CountryUnited States
State/ProvinceMaine (Highest Point)
County/Second Level RegionPiscataquis (Highest Point)
City/TownMount Katahdin

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Other Web Sites
     Katahdin at
     Katahdin; Mount at
     Weather for Katahdin at
     Mt. Katahdin at Summits on the Air (Amateur Radio) Trip Report for Piscataquis, ME by Fred Johnson Trip Report for Piscataquis, ME by Fred Lobdell Trip Report for Piscataquis, ME by Dave Covill Trip Report for Piscataquis, ME by George Fisher Trip Report for Piscataquis, ME by Adam Helman

Weather and Snow
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Lists that contain Katahdin:
     New England 4000-foot Peaks (Rank #6)
     Northeast USA 4000-foot Peaks (Rank #7)
     AMC New England 4000-footers (Rank #6)
     Northeast "115" 4000-footers (Rank #7)
     Contiguous 48 U.S. State High Points (Rank #20)
     U.S. State High Points (Rank #22)
     Eastern USA Peaks with 2500 feet of Prominence (Rank #5)
     United States State/Territory High Points (Rank #22)
     New England 3700-foot Peaks (Rank #6)
     AMC New England Hundred Highest (Rank #6)
     USA Lower 48 Peaks with 100 miles of Isolation (Rank #19)
     Northeast USA Peaks with 2000 feet of Prominence (Rank #3)
     Fred Beckey's Great Peaks of the Continent (Rank #35)
     Most Prominent Peaks of the U.S. States (Rank #19)
     USA Lower 48 Drainage Basin High Points (Rank #33)
     Eastern USA Peaks with 2000 feet of Prominence (Rank #5)
     New England Top 50 by Prominence (Rank #2)
     EPIC List - States of the USA (Rank #31)
     Most Isolated Peaks of the U.S. States (Rank #19)
     Combined USA-Canada-Mexico State/Province High Points (Rank #57)
     Maine County High Points (Rank #1)
     Maine County Prominence Peaks (Rank #1)
     Maine 3,500-foot Peaks (Rank #1)
     Maine Peaks with 1000 feet of Prominence (Rank #1)
(Peak is on over 20 lists; Not all shown here.)

Selected Guidebook(s) for this Peak:
       Fifty State Summits, Guide with Maps to State Highpoints (Zumwalt)
       Highpoints of the United States: A Guide to the Fifty State Summits (Holmes)
       Highpoint Adventures: The Complete Guide to the 50 State Highpoints (Winger)

Ascent Info

Total ascents/attempts logged by registered users: 2193
     Show all viewable ascents/attempts (Total: 1909)

Selected Trip Reports:
     2008-03-15 by Gabriel C
     2009-06-13 by Andrew Kirmse
     2009-07-11 by William Musser
     2010-06-30 by Marlin Thorman (GPS Track)
     2010-07-15 by William Musser
     2010-09-07 by Michael Wanberg
     2010-09-11 by Tomoko Nakajima
     2011-08-13 by Rick Schauder (GPS Track)
     2011-09-02 by Mark Dickey
     2011-10-08 by Gabriel C (GPS Track)
     2011-10-15 by Justin Crews
     2012-07-10 by Brian Friedrich
     2012-07-21 by Matthew Nelson (GPS Track)
     2013-08-03 by Matthew Nelson
     2013-09-27 by Bradley R (GPS Track)
     2013-09-30 by Tye Scott
     2014-07-18 by Alain Carpentier (GPS Track)
     2014-08-12 by Alan Barber
     2014-08-18 by Brian Lamarsh
     2014-09-01 by Michael Berger
     2015-08-10 by Dan Quinlan (GPS Track)
     2015-08-14 by Spencer Corcoran
     2015-08-16 by Michael Vecchiarelli
     2015-10-01 by Richard Bedard (GPS Track)
     2016-02-15 by Seth Wilhelm (GPS Track)
     2016-06-24 by Sylvain Louhaur (GPS Track)
     2016-07-05 by Scott Dresser (GPS Track)
     2016-07-16 by Ryan Turner (GPS Track)
     2016-07-30 by Dave Dunham (GPS Track)
     2016-09-05 by Ruud van den Boom (GPS Track)
     2016-09-22 by Richard Hensley (GPS Track)
     2016-09-24 by Jeremy Watkins (GPS Track)
     2016-09-28 by Kelli Allstot (GPS Track)
     2018-07-16 by Paul McClellan (GPS Track)
     2018-08-10 by Wayne Snyder (GPS Track)
     2018-10-12 by Douglas Fortman (GPS Track)
     2019-07-14 by Lewis Grove (GPS Track)
     2019-08-03 by David Odenwalder
     2020-08-30 by charles tiedemann (GPS Track)
     2020-08-30 by Matthew Maurer (GPS Track)
     2020-10-05 by Michael Walker (GPS Track)
     2021-06-06 by Evan L
     2021-06-16 by David Ohmer
     2021-07-13 by Henry Rodgers (GPS Track)
     2021-07-26 by Jayson H (GPS Track)
     2021-08-09 by Gustav Sexauer
     2022-06-20 by Justin Metzger (GPS Track)
     2022-06-22 by Zackary Michek (GPS Track)
     2022-06-30 by Dan Hildebrand
     2022-09-17 by Eric Gilbertson

Nearby Peak Searches:
     Radius Search - Nearest Peaks to Katahdin
     Elevation Ladder from Katahdin
     Prominence Ladder from Katahdin


Katahdin! The name of perhaps the single most outstanding peak in all the Appalachians is a magic word to Appalachian Trail through hikers who walk for 2,000 miles to reach it, to rock-climbers who challenge its rocky walls, to tourists who gape at its towering form, and to hikers in search of truly rugged mountain majesty.

Mount Katahdin is special due to a variety of factors. It is not a simple mountain, but a broad massif of several peaks, cirques, and ridges, surrounded on almost three sides by a ring of lower summits. This concentrated group of mountains stands utterly alone in the otherwise flat Maine north woods, and the southern face of the main mountain mass rises directly 4,000 feet from the Penobscot River to the highest summit in the entire state. The remote, and, compared to other eastern mountains, almost primeval forest setting of the peak is also very alluring, as is the large area above timberline (about 3800 feet at 46 degrees north). And finally, the spectacular sawtoothed Knife Edge, a serrated crest dropping thousands of feet on both sides, gives Katahdin a special kind of alpine grandeur.

The entire Katahdin group of mountains is part of huge Baxter State Park, the only substantial chunk of public or protected land in the Longfellow Mountains. Established through the generosity and efforts of Maine governor Percival Baxter, in whose honor the highest peak on Katahdin was named, the park, per Baxter's will, is kept as much as possible in a "forever wild" state. This means that roads, campgrounds, and trails are deliberately kept primitive, giving the area a rugged feel, but also that access, both for vehicles entering the park and backpackers camping out, is strictly controlled. Perhaps no other mountain area in the country actually turns people away if they have no campground reservations or if the park is already too full, so it is an excellent idea to research the current Baxter State Park regulations before making that ten-hour drive.

Katahdin itself is essentially a high, hourglass-shaped plateau that runs north-south entirely above timberline and drops off steeply on all sides to the forested lowlands below. The northern half of the hourglass is dominated by Hamlin Peak (4751'), second highest major summit in Maine, and features a high ridge leading north that features the minor Howe Peaks, North Howe (4612') and South Howe (4734'). The southern part of this massif is called the Tableland, an open, gradually sloping plain that rises from the Saddle (4260'), the col south of Hamlin Peak, to Baxter Peak (5267'), the apex of Maine and northern end of the Appalachian Trail.

The Table Land ends at Baxter Peak, dropping off severely to the south, but a narrow and spectacular ridge leads east out into space from Baxter Peak. First passing over the minor bump of the South Peak (5260'), it then suddenly becomes the infamous Knife Edge, a narrow, rocky, tortuous, and even dangerous ridgecrest traversed by perhaps the most spectacular maintained hiking trail in the country, a solid mile of exposed scrambling. The Knife Edge terminates at two rocky pinnacles, Chimney Peak (4900') and Pamola Peak (4912'), separated by a very deep cleft. From Pamola (named after the Indian storm god that often lashes this highly exposed ground) the Keep Ridge leads east down into the lowlands.

The Appalachian Trail, in its final miles, climbs to the Table Land from the southwest, using the Hunt Trail up from Katahdin Stream Campground. The Abol trail, ascending a steep slide, was long the main route up the Mountain.

East of the Tableland and north of the Knife Edge is a series of profound cirques, huge, steep walled basins carved by ancient glaciers. The North Basin, below Hamlin and the Howe Peaks, and the South Basin, an especially awesome chasm with the Knife Edge forming part of its impressive cliffs, are both part of the Great Basin, which has a central lobe between the North and South Basins. Steep trails run up the Hamlin Ridge and Cathedral Ridge, which both separate basins, and up an extremely steep route called the Chimney, climbing the walls of the South Basin to Chimney Peak at the start of the Knife Edge. Chimney pond, in the middle of the Great Basin, is a incredibly scenic, and popular campsite, reachable only by trail.

Surrounding the main Katahdin Massif are a number of subsidiary ranges, the most important of which runs sort of north-south to the west, separated from Katahdin by the swampy, remote, and wild Klondike. The Owl (3736'), a fine viewpoint reached by trail, and trailless Barren Mountain (3681') run west from Katahdin to Mount O-J-I (3400'), which received its odd name from a series of landslides on the peak's steep south face that used to spell out its name. From O-J-I the range runs north over Mount Coe (3764'), South Brother (3900'), North Brother (4151' --a 4000-footer!), and Fort Mountain (3861'), and then starts to die down with Mullen Mountain (3450') and Mount Wassataquoik (2984'). A trail runs to North Brother, to aid both peakbaggers and those who want a great, wide-open view of Katahdin up close and personal, and rough spurs run to South Brother and Coe.

The rest of Baxter State Park, stretching away to the north, is a remote wilderness of lakes, ponds, and relatively low mountains, virtually all trailless. Doubletop Mountain (3488'), west of the Brothers, is an exception--a trail leads from the perimeter road to an excellent viewpoint of Katahdin. The biggest mountain is the park after Katahdin is the Traveller (3541'), a sprawling, lonely, many-summited massif that dominates the northern reaches of the park, penetrated by only a few trails reaching lower viewpoints. East of Katahdin rises Turner Mountain, with three summits: North Turner (3323'), the highest; South Turner (3123'), with a fine view of Katahdin and the only one with a trail; and East Turner (2441'), which is just barely over the border of Baxter State Park and into Penobscot County, where it beats out far away Chase Mountain (2440') by one foot for the honor as that county's highpoint. All other Baxter State Park summits are under 3,000 feet, and are mostly unvisited and trailless.

The Sunrise Myth

Perhaps the most persistent myth about Katahdin is that it's the first place in the U.S. to see a sunrise every morning. However, detailed analysis of this in an article from the January 1972 issue of Yankee Magazine, by Blanton C. Wiggin, shows that the place varies depending on the time of year. According to Wiggin, the first sunrise in the U.S. occurs as follows:

  • October 7 to March 6: Cadillac Mountain, Maine
  • March 7 to March 24: West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, Lubec, Maine
  • March 25 to September 18: Mars Hill, Maine
  • September 19 to October 6: West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, Lubec, Maine

Only on a few mornings in the spring and summer do hills in Canada block the sun from reaching Mars Hill, possibly giving a couple rare mornings to Katahdin.

Note that North Slope of Alaska has midnight sun during late spring and early summer, so during that time the first place in the USA to see the sun every day is a large chunk of Alaska where the sun never sets. However, when talking about a distinct sunrise transition from a set sun to a risen one, Maine will always see a sunrise before any place in Alaska. On about June 16th, the earliest sunrise in Alaska for places just below the Arctic Circle is about 1:45 AM, which is 5:45 AM in eastern Maine, where the sun rises over an hour ealier.

Also, the U.S. territory of Guam has a motto of "Where America's Day Begins", since it is located west of the Date Line and sees the first sunrises of any U.S. owned possessions.

The Knife Edge, leading down from the South Peak towards Chimney and Pamola Peaks. Blue dots are hikers (1994-09-23).
Web Map LinksPeakfinder Panorama
GeoHack Links   CalTopo   MyTopo   Bing Maps
Google Maps   Open Street Map
ProminenceKey Col Page  (Detailed prominence information)
  Clean Prominence: 4288 ft/1307 m
  Optimistic Prominence: 4298 ft/1310 m
  Line Parent: Abigail Adams
  Key Col: Carry Bog    980 ft/299 m
IsolationIsolation Page  (Detailed isolation information)
   Distance: 158.34 mi/254.82 km
   Isolation Limit Point: 44.329235, -71.275096
Nearest Higher Neighbor in the PBC database:
    Mount Madison  (SW)
RangesContinent: North America
Range2: Appalachian Mountains
Range3: Northern U.S. Appalachians
Range4: Longfellow Mountains (Highest Point)
Range5: Katahdin Area (Highest Point)
Drainage BasinsWest Branch Penobscot (HP)
Penobscot (HP)
Gulf of Maine
Atlantic-Eastern USA
Atlantic Ocean
OwnershipLand: Baxter State Park (Highest Point)
Topo MapMount Katahdin O45068h8 1:24,000
First AscentAugust 13, 1804
    Turner, Charles
Route #1 Maintained Hiking Trail: Helon Taylor Trail
Trailhead: Roaring Brook Campground 1489 ft/454 m
Vertical Gain: 3779 ft/1152 m
Data Source1:25,000 (or larger) Topographic Survey Map
Dynamic Map

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Other Photos

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Carefully negotiating the knife edge of Katahdin (2010-07-14). Photo by William Musser.
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Taking Katie on her first big summit, navigating the side of the Knife Edge route from Chimney (2015-07-07). Photo by David Musser.
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Clouds on the way up Katahdin (2015-08-09). Photo by PJ Anderer.
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Blue Skies as far as the eye can see (2015-08-16). Photo by Michael Vecchiarelli.
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The finish of my NE67 (2015-10-01). Photo by Richard Bedard.
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Katahdin's summit sign coated in thick rime ice on my 12/12/15 ascent (2015-12-12). Photo by Josh Brooks.
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Katahdin via Cathedral (Ascent) and Helon Taylor (Descent) w/ Abi, Jack, Chris, Suzanna (2015-08-10). Photo by Lauren Kousaie.
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The clouds cleared as we neared the top to a spectacular view (2016-09-28). Photo by Kelli Allstot.
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The Knife Edge - looking ahead toward summit of Katahdin (2018-10-12). Photo by Douglas Fortman.
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The Table Lands. Or, is it Mars? (2018-10-12). Photo by Douglas Fortman.
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