Canoeing South Branch Pond and hiking North Traveler Mountain, Throwback Thursday #3
In late August, we were seeking solitude from the massive number of people we had seen in the previous weeks due to Northbounder season being in full swing. The north end of Baxter State Park provided the perfect escape and dose of nature we needed to maintain our sanity! We drove the 2 hours north and around through rural northern Maine to the Matagamon Gate of the park, and then another 45 minutes or so on the winding and narrow Tote Road to South Branch Pond. In the park, for a bargain price of $1 per hour you can rent a canoe. We did just that and canoed around South Branch Pond for two hours enjoying the sunshine and a cool breeze. The pond has a small outlet into a second smaller pond, where we beached our boat and walked the short path for a stunning view of the Knife Edge of Katahdin from the northern side, one many people, especially visitors to the area, don’t get to see. After a few hours and some worn out arms, we turned in our canoeing gear, threw on our packs, and headed up North Traveler Mountain. This is a challenging loop trail you can complete, but in August it’s recommended you start before 8 a.m. Since it was late in the day, we only went to the peak and then back down. The climb was actually tougher than I had expected, but most climbs in Maine usually are! We were treated to a stunning view of South Branch and Black Cat Mountains, as well as the Knife Edge in the far background. Looking north, the land is farms and small hills mostly, but incredibly unspoiled. We had found our solitude!
After coming back down the mountain and getting back to the car we had decided we weren’t quite yet done for the day. Consulting the map showed us that South Branch Falls would be a short 1.5 mile addition to our day, so off we went for that hike. We hiked mostly level and a little downhill to the falls, which weren’t quite full, but still beautiful nonetheless. We did some bouldering and soaked up some sun on the warm rocks before calling it a day. When we returned to the small parking area, we met some people who had noticed our AT sticker on the car and asked us about our thru hike. They lived south of us, near Pleasant Pond Mountain (just outside Caratunk, ME) and did some maintaining for the MATC. The trail truly can connect us anywhere, even when we’re not on it!
After leaving, we drove the Tote Road a little further south before turning around and calling it a day. The best part of going to the north end of the park may be the beauty and solitude, but the second best is the food! Craig’s Clam Shop (affectionately known to us as “The Clam Slam”) is in Patten, Maine, and the food there is outta this world! We stop in for milkshakes, burgers, and handcut fries made from potatoes in the fields less than a mile away. It’s always a great end to a day in northern Maine!
The photos today are from the beach of South Branch Pond before pushing off in our canoe, looking at the Traveler Mountain range, a sign warning you that rescue can be hours away (and they aren’t kidding, this place is REMOTE!), and the view from North Traveler looking at Black Cat Mountain with Knife Edge on the far right side.