Love Katahdin Woods & Waters? Join Friends!


A letter from board member Matt Polstein, President & Founder of Ktaadn Resorts (home of New England Outdoor Center), and Maine’s Small Business Owner of the Year! Thank you for all you do, Matt!

Dear Friends,

2024 is shaping up to be a BIG year for Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument–and there has never been a better time to become a Friend than right now, during our annual spring Membership Appeal!

My story: I moved to the state and became a Registered Maine Guide in 1981. I fell in love with the Katahdin Region and invested in building a business based on outdoor recreation here in Millinocket almost 30 years ago. From rafting trips to a campground, snowmobile and ski trails, luxury cabin rentals, a brewery and events center…time flies!

Today, I want to thank you for caring and encourage you to become a member of Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters.

Did you know? Membership supports all of the following:

  • Dam and culvert replacement to restore native sea-run Atlantic Salmon passage throughout the Penobscot River Watershed;
  • Promotion of responsible and sustainable visitation to Katahdin Woods and Waters for the year-round benefit of surrounding communities;
  • Community science in the monument and the region: teaching local youth to test water quality in rivers and observe changes over time;
  • And so much more!

Since 2016, we enjoy more hiking trails and better fishing in trout streams on monument land today, thanks to the persistence and generosity of those who believed. Because of folks like you, the next generation will find these woods and waters better than we did, and learn a more complete story of the land. On August 17th, Tekαkαpimək Contact Station will open to the public. Unlike any welcome center in our national parks system, the building and natural landscape atop Lookout Mountain will invite the public to experience and learn through the lens of a Wabanaki world view.

Please join me and invest in nature, community, and the stewards of tomorrow. The level of support is up to you—what matters is our shared voice.

See you on the trail,

Matt Polstein

A river with whitewater flows toward the camera.
Upper East Branch of the Penobscot: a place worth protecting. Nolan Altvater photo

A Forest Chorus – May eNewsletter

Road improvements, youth building community, member meet-ups, summer camping reservations open, and more…

A black-capped chickadee perched on a spring tree branch.
Hear me chirp! Photo credit: Ross Knowlton

Cue the sounds of spring in the monument: the passionate chirps and trills of the chickadees, raucous choir of spring peepers, deep thrums of the grouse, and many more. Surrounded by the excitement of amphibian and avian courtship sounds, we humans find spring to be a time of inspiration and energy as well. What are the sounds and activities that you look forward to each May?

While we hope you have plans to visit the monument soon, don’t forget that Friends is on the road for our Membership May events – happening at our favorite brewpubs around the state.

We are humbled by the amazing community of people who partner with us and impact our work. We have exciting news to share from NPS, and this month’s Ripple Effect is chock full of inspirational articles, profiles, and events that you won’t want to miss.

Priority Park Progress

A small SUV drives on a dirt road.
Take time to enjoy the ride (your car will thank you). Photo credit: Taylor Walker

Last year, you heard from Friends about the “A Monumental Welcome” campaign. The campaign is funding a variety of efforts to improve and enhance the visitor experience in the monument, and we’re excited to begin sharing campaign success stories with you as we enter 2024 and these projects get underway.


Roads are always a hot topic in the monument. We at Friends are proud to share that we’ve granted $205,000 to NPS for road work in FY24 and FY25. This funding will be utilized to grade, brush, and ditch visitor use roads, particularly in the South. NPS will be renting a grader, as well as purchasing materials and hiring staff to re-deck bridges, repair culverts, fill potholes, and address storm damage. As we talk about roads, as a reminder, please always be on the lookout for logging trucks and practice safe driving in the monument. We hope you enjoy smooth sailing driving in 2024!

Friends News

A group of children walk along a wooded path in spring.
Elise leads campers on a walk in the woods. Photo credit: She of the Flowers

Katahdin Learning Project – Friends education staff are still beaming after a wonderful week of bringing nature and community together for our third annual (still free!) April Vacation Camp in Millinocket. During the week, Vacation Campers learned…

  • The importance of clean water to people and wildlife
  • How to be safe near and on the water
  • About the past and present of the Wabanaki Nations
  • What resources they have in their community
  • How pollinators help the ecosystem
  • To Leave No Trace while playing outside
  • What trees fill our forests



Children are jumping across a vernal pool in the woods.
“You got this!” Photo credit: She of the Flowers

Education Coordinator Elise emphasizes that camp teaches lessons beyond the programmed instruction. Children realized that they had a voice in environmental action. Others felt like they belonged to a community that accepts and will listen to them with empathy. Several kids simply discovered that the outdoors is a wonderful place to be. The middle and high school volunteers found out what it means to be a good role model and the satisfaction of helping others. For a few local students this was their third consecutive year of Vacation Camp! We’re grateful to be a positive part of these kids’ lives. Thank you to KAWW Ranger Crystal Lewis who taught a wildlife lesson about salmon and helped campers become Junior Rangers. This program happens in collaboration with Outdoor Sport Institute, Katahdin Gear Library, and Millinocket Memorial Library. We had additional support from Our Katahdin, Katahdin Collaborative, and Northern Penobscot Activities Council, and of course, YOU, our members!

Monument Access Bill Introduced – Last week, Senator Angus S. King, Jr. introduced a new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Access Act to help more people access the Monument via a southern route from Millinocket on portions of the Stacyville, Huber, and Roberts roads. This legislation is markedly different from the Access Act introduced last Congress, incorporating important local feedback. We are pleased to see extensive support from the Millinocket business community and the Penobscot Nation. Friends of KWW executive director Brian Hinrichs says, “Access through Millinocket will bring economic benefits to local businesses and convenience to visitors looking to explore more of the Katahdin region. We’re excited to see progress on this critical legislation and look forward to supporting its passage.” The official press release includes more detail, including links to a map and the full legislation.

Behind the Signs

News from the National Park Service and Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument

  • While not required for summer camping at KAWW, campsite reservations are free with a small online or phone processing fee. Browse and book at to ensure you get your favorite spot!
  • The Loop Road and north gates are scheduled to swing open on May 24th. Friends will post on social when it happens!
  • Seasonal NPS staff in maintenance, interpretation/education, and cultural resources will start between early May and mid-June. Eight of the 17 employees hired so far are from local communities!
  • Although most seasonal positions have been filled, check here for new opportunities:

NPS Trivia – Q: What is a “unigrid?” A: The NPS-standard fold-out brochure that you’ll find at kiosks and visitor contact stations at many National Parks, Monuments, and Historic Sites–and now, Katahdin Woods and Waters! (Psst, Friends will have KAWW Unigrids available at our member meet-ups.)

Ripple Effect

News and notes from the Katahdin region, the Friends community, and beyond

Sponsor Spotlight

Thank you to our Lookout level sponsor Down East Magazine! Delivering the best of Maine, including the Katahdin region, year-round. Check out the Great Maine Scavenger Hunt, in the June issue on newsstands now!

Sponsors provide crucial funding that supports Friends mission and work. To learn more about becoming sponsor in 2024, visit or contact

—This blog post was adapted from an email sent on May 10, 2024. Sign up for our email list at

Step into Spring – April eNewsletter

Winter melts into spring, lynx kittens, outdoor skills fun, Friends’ upcoming events, and more…

River in woods with starry sky.
Moonlight over the Seboeis River. Photo credit: Ross Knowlton

Some seasonal transitions occur over the lapsing of days or weeks, as with the gentle warming of soil in late May or the buildup of goldenrod fluff on our sweaters after several fall hikes. Other times, nature throws out a plot twist. After a historically low snow year, the Katahdin region received up to 30 inches of fresh snow at the end of March! A brief late season gift to skiers and snowshoers, the fresh powder began succumbing to strong sunshine and then rain almost immediately. It may look like winter on the ground, but it sounds like spring: drip, drip, squish, squelch. Maine’s infamous Mud Season will be in force soon.

In light of the very seasonal wetness, please heed the advice of national, state, and local authorities and take safety precautions if you are traveling to view the solar eclipse on Monday, April 8th. Find the latest statewide information on the VisitMaine Solar Eclipse page. The National Park Service Rangers will be at family-friendly events all eclipse weekend around the region. Find details at the KAWW Eclipse page and listed below.

Looking a little further ahead, we have several exciting dates to announce! Find dates below and plan to join us for a casual member “meet and greet” at a pub near you–and mark your calendar for August 17th for the Grand Opening of Tekαkαpimək Contact Station and Woods and Waters Day!

Also this month, in Priority Park Progress we highlight an important scientific project funded by the A Monumental Welcome capital campaign and share news from the Katahdin Learning Project. Don’t miss Behind the Signs for updates and happenings direct from the park service at Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, or Ripple Effect, a curated selection of notes from the Katahdin region and greater conservation community.

Priority Park Progress

Two lynx kits lying on mossy ground.
Two Canada lynx kits. Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

Last year, you heard from Friends about the A Monumental Welcome campaign. The campaign is funding a variety of efforts to improve and enhance the visitor experience in the monument, and we’re excited to begin sharing campaign success stories with you as we enter 2024 and these projects get underway.

This month, we’re spotlighting species inventory projects funded by Friends and its donors. As an emerging NPS unit, Katahdin Woods and Waters is not supported by the Inventory & Monitoring program. Existing estimates on wildlife species is informed by hunting permits and casual observations by visitors and park staff. In 2024 and 2025, Friends’ funding for Priority Park Projects includes evaluating the presence of threatened Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) and other wildlife species to comply with federal regulations, protect species, and avoid hazards. Friends will also be funding inventory studies of the northern bog lemming (Synaptomys borealis). Northern bog lemmings are listed in Maine as a state-threatened species with potential to be listed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Although rare, the lemmings have been detected in neighboring Baxter State Park. With more survey areas, it is anticipated that the monument also provides bog lemming habitat.

Friends News –

Mark your calendars now for these upcoming events, and stay tuned for updates in your inbox, social media feeds, and at!

Friends’ “Membership May” Meet & Greet Series – Join staff, board, and volunteers at a brewpub near you for a casual opportunity to meet members, ask questions, and get a sneak peek at our fresh strategic plan. (The pizza is on us!)

Thursday, May 9th – 5:30-6:30 p.m. Virtual, Zoom

Dozens of people seated at round tables under a lit party tent.
Join Friends in celebration this August. Photo credit: James E. Francis, Sr.

Tuesday, May 14th – 4-6 p.m. Knife Edge Brewing Co, Millinocket

Tuesday, May 21st – 12-1:30 p.m. Mason’s Brewing Company, Brewer

Tuesday, May 28th – 4-6 p.m Maine Beer Company, Freeport


Teacher Camp – Educators of all types are invited to join us for a day

of learning and connecting on Tuesday, June 24th in Patten. For more information, contact

Grand Opening of Tekαkαpimək Contact Station and Woods and Waters Day – Tekαkαpimək Contact Station will open to the public the weekend of August 17 & 18, with a special Woods & Waters Day celebration the night of August 17th at Ktaadn Resorts (New England Outdoor Center) in Millinocket. More details to follow!

Immersive Outdoor Learning 

High school students sitting in kayaks and an instructor standing in an indoor swimming pool.
Kayak roll clinic at UMaine. Photo credit: FKWW

Friends’ place-based education program, the Katahdin Learning Project, is growing! In March we welcomed Ronan, our spring seasonal Place-Based Educator. Ronan will work with KLP until the end of the school year teaching outdoor enrichment lessons in the Millinocket middle and high schools. Outdoor enrichment periods are a new student-driven program made possible with funding from the Maine Outdoor Learning Inititiave*, allowing learners to dictate the topics they’re passionate about. With Ronan at the helm, we’re excited to see the creativity and curiosity unfold! He will also assist with the planning and delivery of April Vacation Camp and other programs across the region.

Earlier in March, KLP led a visit to the University of Maine for 24 high school outdoor education students. Linking up with Maine Bound Adventure Center for a kayak roll clinic, students learned how to roll a whitewater kayak and perform a canoe “t rescue”–essential skills for exploring the waterways in the Katahdin region. PLUS students got an inside look at campus life with a university tour!

Attention locals: we are planning another UMaine visit, and this time, we’re going rock climbing! The trip takes off after school lets out for a half day on May 10th and is open to any 6th -12th grade student in the Katahdin region. For more information and to register (plus a sneak peek of summer programs) visit: friendsofkww/org/Katahdin-region-outdoor-collective

A brown wooden sign "Old River Road."
Pointing the way to a popular ski trail. Photo credit: Ross Knowlton

Behind the Signs

News from the National Park Service and Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

  • Did you know...that every unit of the National Park Service has an official four-letter abbreviation? The abbreviation for Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is KAWW (the pronunciation is up to you).
  • Reminder! KAWW North Entrance and Loop Roads remain closed for the winter season. Stay current on condtions here.
  • Rangers are getting ready for a busy weekend of events leading up to the April 8th eclipse! Find them in Houlton on April 6, in Patten on  April 7th, and in Island Falls on April 8th for the eclipse itself. Details are on the KAWW events calendar.
  • Dreaming of your first Katahdin Woods and Waters summer camping trip? Watch this helpful video at
  • Visit (and bookmark) the KAWW page at to plan your summer trips and get ready to snag your favorite spot when reservations open later this month!

    Ripple Effect

    News and notes from the Katahdin region, the Friends community, and beyond

    Sponsor Spotlight

    It’s the start of a new sponsorship year! We are so excited to spend the next twelve months introducing you to our corporate supporters: businesses who make their values part of the bottom line. 

    Always the first to say YES each year to our Katahdin level sponsorship, we are beyond grateful for Richardson’s Hardware. This 4th generation run business has grown significantly from its 1948 establishment in Patten, Maine to today. When locals get the itch for spring gardening, we’ll escape to Richardson’s greenhouse across the road!

Sponsors provide crucial funding that supports Friends mission and work. To learn more, visit or contact

—This blog post was adapted from an email sent on April 3rd, 2024. Sign up for our email list at

Frozen Fun – Late Winter eNewsletter

Eclipse excitement, cross-country ski report, Vacation Camp, park projects, and more…

Five people on snowshoes and skis in a line on a snowy trail in the woods.
Staff outing to the Oxbow picnic area. Photo credit: FKWW

The Katahdin Region and northern Maine are buzzing with preparations as a rare astronomical event approaches on April 8th. Katahdin Region communities are on the solar eclipse “path of totality,” meaning viewers will see the moon cover the entirety of the sun except for the corona, or sun’s atmosphere.

Take care, though! April is not peak season in our region for some good reasons. For those planning to travel to Maine for this very special experience, it will be crucial to follow the well-worn advice of “know before you go.” At Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, the North Entrance Road and Katahdin View Loop Road will remain closed for the winter season, and others may be unsafe depending on weather conditions. Start with’s eclipse page to learn where and how to safely view the eclipse–some local towns have big plans and can’t wait to welcome you.

Read on to learn about plans from the National Park Service to greet monument visitors on the Swift Brook Road this summer. We share highlights from our February break Vacation Camp and Brian’s trip Washington, D.C. Visit the Friends blog for my notes from a two-day tour of groomed cross-country ski trails in the region from north to south, starting with our staff outing at the north gate entrance pictured above.

Priority Park Progres

A topographical map image.

Last year, you heard from Friends about the Monumental Welcome campaign. The campaign is funding a variety of efforts to improve and enhance the visitor experience in the monument, and we’re excited to begin sharing campaign success stories with you as we enter 2024 and these projects get underway.

We all know the drive along Swift Brook Road to the start of Loop Road can be long and if it’s your first time, somewhat confusing. The Hunt Farm parcel of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument affords a great stopping place along the way to stretch your legs and get oriented, but little infrastructure has been available. A new project aims to change that by constructing a parking area for approximately 10 vehicles off the Swift Brook Road and by providing a vault toilet and information kiosk. With increased visitation expected in coming years, this new area will offer clarity to visitors embarking on their journey into the monument.

Friends News

A group of 14 youth, teens, and adults smile at the camera on a snow-covered forest trail.
All smiles on the last day of Vacation Camp! Photo credit: FKWW

February Vacation Camp  Connects Youth, Nature, & Community – Last week, the Katahdin Learning Project facilitated our 3rd February Vacation Camp, a free, four-day program for local elementary grade youth. Camp goals are to deepen relationships with the outdoors, spark pride in the Katahdin region, and foster a sense of stewardship for natural places. So many campers returned from 2023 that lessons built off last year’s themes to delve into more complex topics such as public lands and protecting wildlife–while having a lot of fun. We were especially excited towelcome Ranger Crystal from Katahdin Woods & Waters NM to lead some programs.

Since the first Vacation Camp, educators have seen participants’ comfort in the outdoors, understanding of land stewardship, pride in their community, and knowledge of natural resources grow. However, what happens with these students after they “age out” of Vacation Camp? We knew there was an opportunity to continue making connections, so a Youth Ambassador and Leadership program was born! Middle and high school students from the Katahdin region can now continue to attend vacation camp in volunteer roles. These young volunteers went through an application process, interviews, and attended training – all valuable first experiences. They even had the opportunity to meet rangers from Baxter State Park and the National Park Service to learn about careers in the field.

Thank you to our partners for their help with the planning and facilitation: Katahdin Gear Library, Millinocket Memorial Library, Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument, and Outdoor Sport Institute. Community supporters help camp stay free and accessible: Syntiro, Our Katahdin, Katahdin Collaborative, Millinocket Elks Club, and Northern Forest Center.

A group of men and women gathered in a formal photograph with Senator Angus King of Maine.
Friends of KWW, Friends of Acadia, the National Park Foundation, and Senator King. Photo credit: Office of Senator Angus King

Friends goes to Washington – On February 7th, Executive Director Brian Hinrichs and board member Lucas St. Clair represented Friends in visits with Maine’s delegation for NPF Hill Day. “It was a chance to thank our senators and representatives for supporting appropriations to NPF and for supporting the Great American Outdoors Act, both of which are having direct impact in Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. These are dollars spent locally to the benefit of all visitors, and we are grateful!”

Pictured above from left: David Ellwood, PhD (Schoodic Institute), Veronica Torres (Friends of Acadia), Sarah Unz (National Park Foundation), Eric Stiles (Friends of Acadia), Kevin Schneider (Acadia National Park), Lucas St. Clair (Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters), Senator Angus King Jr., Nick Fisichelli, PhD (Schoodic Institute), Will Shafroth (National Park Foundation), Brian Hinrichs (Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters), Elizabeth Hersh-Tucker (National Park Foundation).

Share your thoughts – Strategic planning continues this winter with the expert guidance of Solid Ground Consulting. Friends’ staff and board as well as NPS have been working through big questions to guide our future. Now, we want to hear from you!

Click here to complete a short survey!

Behind the Signs

News from the National Park Service and Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

  • Winter trail condtions from the North Gate are updated with each grooming at (Check often – March is usually our snowiest month!)
  • Can I watch the solar eclipse at Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument? Find anwers to your questions at
  • Dreaming of summer camping getaways? Browse the sites at KAWW now and get ready to book later this spring at
  • Several seasonal summer jobs at KAWW are open for applications now. See the opportunties at
  • Funds from the Great American Outdoors Act Legacy Restoration Fund will flow to KAWW this summer for two exciting maintenance projects – clearing the old Telos Tote Road for improved hiking and mountain biking and rehabilitating the historic 1929 Deasey Fire Lookout.

    Ripple Effect

    News and notes from the Katahdin region, the Friends community, and beyond

    • Just east of the region and the very last town in the US that will experience the total eclipse on April 8th, see what Houlton has in store for Maine Eclipse Festival Weekend!
    • Listen to NPF’s very own Lise Aangeenbrug, NPF’s Chief Program Officer, as she talks about NPS’ overall economic impact on communities and regions, keeping a healthy symbiosis between public and private interests, combatting overtourism, and hidden gems in the park system.
    • Winter Wonderland Adventure at Millinocket Memorial Library: Calling all young winter explorers!  A ranger from Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument will lead a journey through a winter wonderland to discover the secrets of winter survival for plants and animals on Tuesday, March 19 (learn more and register here).
    • Cheers to the young adventurers of Stearns’ High School’s Outdoor Ed class for their overnight ski trip to Haskell Hut. “We skied a total of 13 miles, enjoyed views of Stair Falls, slept in a backcountry cabin, and had a rousing game of Monopoly….We appreciated help with gear and logistics from the Katahdin Learning Project.”

    Sponsor Spotlight

    Thank you to our Lookout sponsor National Parks Conservation Association! NPCA is a tireless advocate for our national parks, historic sites, and monuments. Thank you for your work and support of Friends.

And thank you to New York Puzzle Company for their Deasey sponsorship! Thanks for putting 1% for the Planet to work with Friends!

Sponsors provide crucial funding that supports Friends mission and work. Are you ready to join us in 2024? Visit or contact

—This blog post was adapted from an email sent on February 29, 2024. Sign up for our email list at

For Cross-country Skiing, Cross Your Fingers and Head North

Development Coordinator Sarah Andre shares some of her favorite ski spots in the Katahdin Region. A resident of southern Maine, traveling to the Katahdin Region in winter is her favorite perk of working for Friends! The photos and words below reflect conditions on January 29th, 2024. As of February 29th, a major rain and warming event has closed many local ski destinations. All photos credit FKWW.

I love to cross-country ski. Maybe you do, too. Growing up in the eighties, my first ski trips were on short wooden skis with rubber buckles that went over my regular snow boots (lined with plastic bread bags) on the lumpy snowmobile trails around our home in the western Maine foothills. That wasn’t that much fun by itself, but fortunately my parents knew the power of a bag of m’n’ms and a “secret” camp in the woods, upon whose porch we’d rest. On the high school Nordic team I mastered classic and skate techniques, and gained a lifelong passion, if not podiums.

A young girl on cross country skis looks at the sky.
Sharing the beauty of winter with my kids.

Today, I live just a few miles inland from Casco Bay where the skiing gets worse each year. Compared to just a few years ago, snowstorms are smaller, less frequent, and very often immediately followed by rain and rising temperatures. Driving past our local golf course that functions as a touring center in winter, only a few slushy white islands dot the rolling brown landscape and summon a weird sadness that feels too frivolous to indulge. I taught my children to ski here over the last ten years, with the hope to give them a source of joy in winter, a place with icy blue skies and frozen eyelashes, woodland critters’ dramas told in footprints, and clouds of exertion that culminate with scenic vistas, eagle sightings, and tepid hot cocoas sloshed on your gloves. Only time will tell if they keep on skiing after I no longer facilitate, but we have had a lot of fun sliding in the snow so far!

For now, we skinny skiers hope this year is an exceptional outlier in its dearth of snow, and so head north to sustain our passion. I am privileged to travel to the Katahdin Region regularly for work, but I hope that this post will inspire other enthusiasts to head north! It has been just four weeks since my two days of fabulous skiing in the Katahdin Region, and I fear that the snowpack will be challenged by the warmth and rain falling at the end of February 2024. Fortunately, the folks who maintain trails in the national monument and the region report on conditions regularly so you can check up on the three spots I hit, plus several more, before you go. Don’t miss the links below my trip report! All three destinations I visited are available to skiers for no charge, but please visit the links to check hours and restrictions!

Old River Road, Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument (North Entrance)

The Friends staff met at our office in Patten at 10 a.m. to carpool the roughly 25 miles to the North Entrance.  My colleague Ruger and I had departed our homes in southern Maine when the sky was still dark, so it was nice to ride with someone else for the final stretch especially since Route 159 is really dirty and has a few frost heaves (read, bring your higher clearance vehicle and be vigilant). In the summer this entrance provides access to paddling, hiking, camping and biking along the Old River Road. The road is gated in winter, providing a perfect spot for a groomed ski and snowshoe trail.

Five people snowshoeing and skiing in the woods.
Easy gliding in the snowshoe tracks.


Four people seated at a picnic table in the snow.
Everything tastes better outside…

The National Park Service crew grooms soon after each new snow event all the way to Big Spring Hut, which is nearly 10 miles one way. We leisurely trekked along level terrain to the Oxbow Picnic Area, a fine spot to enjoy lunch and be back by mid-afternoon. The sole skier in our party, as the rest of the group stepped into snowshoes, I clicked into a pair of touring “off-trail” skin skis. Slightly wider than a traditional classic cross-country ski, they were the perfect choice for gliding through a few inches of fresh powder atop a firm machine-groomed base. In fact, I felt fairly guilty zipping along comfortably while my colleagues grew warm from the relatively steeper effort of picking their feet up to move forward!

A map of ski trails.
Find the link to this map and more below.



In a nutshell: Old-fashioned ski touring on a wide trail, perfect for group social skis. Don’t expect pristine corduroy or set track, but DO expect a blissful absence of the sounds of civilization. We had fun spotting many different animal tracks and trying to identify them.


Katahdin Area Trails at ktaadn resorts (New Enland outdoor center)
A close up woman's face in a snowy landscape.

The next morning I had a scheduled meeting at Ktaadn Resorts to begin plannig summer events. I was so excited to check these trails out that I set out early in the single digits Fahrenheit! Having run throughout the multi-use system in the warmer months, I knew it was a fun network with a lot of “topographical interest,” and sure enough, I was not feeling cold after fifteen minutes. I started at the trailhead across from River Driver’s Restaurant, where plenty of snowmobilers were taking off for a different set of trails. This day I started with skate skis and was a little concerned at the start–the trail was hard-packed and pocked with footprints. I considered turning back for my touring skis and switching to “recreational” mode but after a few turns into the woods, the trail smoothed out, post-holes disappeared, and the skating

skis on snow
Packed powder and bright sunshine.

conditions were fast and fun. I had about an hour and a half, which was enough time to ski the Lakeside Trail, part of Katahdin View, and  Twin Pines loops. Like any network with lots of trails and intersections, a person can get turned around. I am really good at getting turned around, but the quantity of trail markers, blazes, and most importantly, “you are here” numbered signs meant that I never got too far off my intended route. I can’t wait to go back and explore the rest of the network when I have a whole day to get lost! I squeezed in a delicious breakfast sandwich at the Knife’s Edge Brewing Co before zipping back down the hill for our meeting, then joined my colleagues back at KE for the wood-fired pizza afterwards. Tough day, I know…

A large rack full of colorful skis.
You can rent equipment for the day at Ktaadn Resorts.

In a nutshell: Well-designed multi-use trail network provides fun, technical terrain. There was no set classic track, so if you like to skate, enjoy! Classic skiers may choose a wider, or possibly even a light backcountry touring ski with metal edges, especially on very hard packed or icy snow. Watch out for: amazing views of Katahdin! If you have limited time, pass on the Lakeside Trail–it doesn’t actually get you to the lakeside, which was mildly disappointing.

Penobscot River Trails, Grindstone
A groomed cross-country ski trail.
Lovely conditions for classic or skate skiing.
An interior room at a ski lodge.
Warm up before and after your ski at the visitor center.
A ski waxing table.
Self-service BYO Wax station.

Oh, Penobscot River Trails! A true gem in the Katahdin Region, it lives up to the descriptors listed on the website: “world class facility,” “Olympic quality ski trails,” and “pristine riverside wilderness.” Popular with day-trippers from the Banor metro area, PRT is a must-check-out destination for all Maine cross-country skiers. I build it into all my winter work trips! On this day, fueled by belly full of pizza, I departed Ktaadn Resorts and drove to Medway, then the 10-ish miles north to the trailhead on Route 11. It’s hard to explain how lovely the visitor center is, with its heated bathrooms, self-service free equipment rentals, Swix waxing bench for guest use, and even a refrigerator and microwave! On the weekends and at other times by chance, I’ve been greeted by a friendly staff person who tends the woodstove and offers assistance. On weekdays, however, it’s usually just you and the guest log, which is fun to read through. Who knew so many folks were visiting the region from far away? On this day, the couple who set out after me were from Brooklyn, NY.

A groomed nordic ski trail.
Enjoy flying along the Tote Road on crisp corduroy.

I again chose skate skis, because I’m familiar with the “Olympic quality ski trails.” The first 1-2 km from the visitor center were actually pretty rough, even showing dirt in places and universally covered with little cones and needles. The trail at the beginning is also quite narrow with two sets of classic tracks, so I was glad to emerge from the wooded section and into the open where you can scoot across a very small field to access the Tote Road. PRT has very specific use guidelines. The Tote Road is groomed wide for skating and all skiers are welcome. Snowshoers must stay to the far edge. Most of the Riverside Trail is double tracked for classic skiing only. This was a little sad for me, as the Riverside Trail is much more beautiful and has more rolling terrain, but joy filled my heart as I channeled my inner Jessie Diggins. When I used to teach youth cross-country skiing, when a kid would “get” skating for the first time they often wouldn’t want to stop. They ski away with a goofy grin and pretend they can’t hear you yelling to come back because their mom is waiting in the parking lot. That is how it feels to skate along the Tote Road. You’ll feel like you’re flying along the ridiculously simple trail network marked with rustic wooden signs and rewarded with stops at warming huts that are probably nicer than your house.

In a nutshell: Just do it! PRT updates conditions very regularly so you will know what to expect. Be aware that the parking lot can be very busy on the weekends.


If you’ve made it this far in my post, you must be a cross-country skier! I’d love to hear from you–where and how do you ski in

A woman on skis in front of a river
A day on skis is always a good day! (At the Oxbow, Katahdin Woods and Waters NM)

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and around the region? And are changing winters affecting the places and the way you ski? Send me an email, and I hope to see you on the trails.

-Sarah Andre, Development Coordinator

Enjoy winter – January eNewsletter

A welcome blanket of snow, grooming reports, new look for the Overlook, and more…

A brown and white speckled owl is perched in a winter tree.
A barred owl patiently watches for motion. Photo credit: Nolan Altvater

Winter is finally settling in at Katahin Woods and Waters and in the region, after a few frustrating false starts! Snow in the northern forests provides more than “snowglobe” photo ops and snow days, although those are both wonderful things. Snowpack makes a cozy cover from predators and the elements for small animals like mice and grouse. Deep snow in winter means our rivers will be refreshed with ample cold water in spring for salmon and trout. And we people need snow to do many of our favorite activities such as snowshoeing, skiing, and building forts (on snow days, of course).

We’ve been hearing from many of you excited to start your winter adventures in Katahdin Woods and Waters, and seeing your photos pop up on social media. Don’t forget to tag @friendsofkatahdinwoodsandwaters or send an old-fashioned email–we love to see friends enjoying time on the land.

Read on for all the January highlights and a preview of what’s coming up this winter!

But first: You did it! Our Annual Appeal raised more than $177,000 through the end of 2023, meeting our goal and then some. Thank you!

A photo of a large mountain from a distance, and a landscape plan rendering.
The timeless view of Katahdin from the Overlook, and a peek at the plans! Image: NPS

Priority Park Progress

Last year, you heard from Friends about the A Monumental Welcome campaign. The campaign is funding a variety of efforts to improve and enhance the visitor experience in the monument, and we’re excited to begin sharing campaign success stories with you as we enter 2024 and these projects get underway.

Let’s start with a big one: a redesign of the iconic Katahdin Overlook on the scenic Loop Road. This project will be completed over two years, and NPS is currently wrapping the design phase. Changes to look forward to in the new design include amenities such as picnic tables, signage, and a pavilion for visitors to enjoy shade and rain protection, a parking loop to accommodate larger vehicles, and an accessible two-stall vault toilet. Future visitors will find accessible paths, trails, and waysides to explore the area surrounding the Overlook.

Once work can begin, the first year will see all the major excavation and groundwork being contracted out. The second year will include construction of all trails and paths, installing the vault toilet, working on the general landscaping of the site, and installing informative waysides and kiosks. We are proud to share that Friends has already granted $500,000 for this project to the National Park Service – thanks to the support of friends like you.

A photo montage of children playing in snow.
Scenes from previous years have us excited for Camp! Photo credits: FKWW

Friends Connecting Community to Nature

February Vacation Camp is almost here! Now in its third year, Friends’ education program, Katahdin Learning Project, will continue this collaborative program with our community partners including Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument, Outdoor Sport Institute, and Katahdin Gear Library. Camp will be held over 4 days during the school break and is registration is now open to students in grade 2-5 from the Katahdin region free of charge. Each day will feature a fun new theme designed to connect students to their community and nature. We are especially excited to roll out a new camp initiative this year: Outdoor Leaders and Ambassadors. These middle and high school students will be mentored by KLP staff, develop professional and leadership skills, create their own mini-lessons and give our staff a hand as needed. These leadership and career readiness experiences are made possible through a partnership with Syntiro’s Gear Up Maine Program, which has helped prepare Maine students for postsecondary education since 1998. (Psst! Does this sound like a good fit for a Katahdin region middle or high school student you know? Reach out to for more information!)

Staff and Board Migrations

Friends’ Board of Directors welcomed two new members in late 2023. Dan Wenk retired as the superintendent of Yellowstone National Park in 2019 after a 43-year career dedicated to the National Park Service. James E. Francis, Sr is the Historic Preservation Officer for Penobscot Nation and a historical researcher, photographer, filmaker, and graphics artist.

We also bid a bittersweet farewell to Friends’ longest-serving staff member, Projects Director Sam Deeran. From his home office in Herserytown Twp, Sam will be working as an independent contractor with organizations across the state seeking to undertake collaborative work. Thank you for all you’ve done for Friends, the monument, and our community, Sam!

A wooden sign for Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument with the NPS arrowhead logo.

Behind the Signs

News from the National Park Service and Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

Sponsor Spotlight

Thank you to our Lookout level sponsor Elliotsville Foundation! EFI’s work is about strengthening communities and economies by expanding connections with the outdoors,  exemplified by the collaborative process to create Tekαkαpimək Contact Station in the national monument.

And thank you to F.A. Peabody for their Hathorn level sponsorship! F.A. Peabody Insurance – “Because…Things Happen”

The mission of Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters is to preserve and protect the outstanding natural beauty, ecological vitality and distinctive cultural resources of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and surrounding communities for the inspiration and enjoyment of all generations.



—This blog post was adapted from an email sent on January 30, 2024. Sign up for our email list at

National Park Foundation Supports Tekαkαpimək Contact Station in Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument With $1 Million Gift

Tekαkαpimək, South wing interior (rendering by Aleksey Mokhov and WeShouldDoItAll)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 1, 2024

KATAHDIN WOODS AND WATERS NATIONAL MONUMENT – Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters is pleased to share that the National Park Foundation will make a $1 million contribution  to the Monumental Welcome Campaign, supporting completion of Tekαkαpimək Contact Station at Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Tekαkαpimək translates from the Penobscot language to “as far as one can see” and is pronounced de gah-gah bee mook

The donation is made possible by the National Park Foundation’s fiscal year 2024 federal appropriations, and brings the Foundation’s total campaign giving to over $2 million after  previous grants in 2022 and 2023.

Campaign Co-Chair Lucas St. Clair said, “The National Park Foundation has been a critical partner to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument from the start, and this extraordinary investment further highlights their belief in the exciting work happening here in Northern Maine. We’re grateful for the Foundation’s support to enhance the visitor experience, help expand the economic benefits in the region, and expose more people to the beauty that is Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.”

To date, nearly $30 million has been raised towards the campaign goal of $35 million, which will provide $31 million for Tekαkαpimək Contact Station, $2.7 million for Park Priority Projects to protect natural resources and enhance visitor experience, and $1 million for future Wabanaki Directed Projects. The campaign thus far has been made possible by over 200 donors including leadership gifts from Roxanne Quimby Foundation, Elliotsville Foundation, Inc., Burt’s Bees, an Anonymous Donor, L.L. Bean, the National Park Foundation, and NorthLight Foundation. 

“Thanks to the vision, hard work and tremendous generosity of Roxanne Quimby and Lucas St. Clair, the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is thriving,” said Will Shafroth, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “Along with Quimby and St. Clair, the Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters’ commitment to designing and building the Tekαkαpimək Contact Station in close consultation with the Wabanaki Tribal community is a tribute to the power of partnership.”

Architectural, landscape and exhibition designs for Tekαkαpimək Contact Station resulted from a process between Elliotsville Foundation, representatives of the Wabanaki Nations, Saunders Architecture, Design Architect – Norway, Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architecture, Alisberg Parker, Architect of Record – USA, WeShouldDoItAll, Tuhura Communications, Erin Hutton Projects, Split Rock Studios, and the National Park Service. In all of this work, Wabanaki artisans, writers, and historians have been engaged as creators and advisors in designing and fabricating the tangible spaces and signage as well as agreements governing ownership of the work. Tekαkαpimək Contact Station invites visitors to engage with the history, present, and vibrant future of Wabanaki people who have lived here continuously for thousands of years. 

The Tekαkαpimək Contact Station site is an active construction zone and is closed to visitors at this time. A grand opening is planned for August 17, 2024. All Wabanaki cultural knowledge and intellectual property shared within the project is owned by the Wabanaki Nations


NOTE TO EDITORS: Images of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and renderings of Tekαkαpimək Contact Station are available here for download.

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is located within the present and traditional homeland of the Penobscot Nation. The land and waters hold special significance to the Penobscot Nation and are inextricably linked with Penobscot culture, ceremonies, oral traditions, language, history, and indigenous stewardship which continues the respectful relationship with the land and waterways that has gone back more than 11,000 years. Katahdin is a culturally significant place to the Wabanaki people where connecting watersheds provide important travel routes for Wabanaki people, comprised of Maliseet, Mi’kmaq, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot Nations. 


The National Park Foundation works to protect wildlife and park lands, preserve history and culture, educate and engage youth, and connect people everywhere to the wonder of parks. We do it in collaboration with the National Park Service, the park partner community, and with the generous support of donors, without whom our work would not be possible. Learn more at


The mission of Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters is to preserve and protect the outstanding natural beauty, ecological vitality and distinctive cultural resources of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and surrounding communities for the inspiration and enjoyment of all generations. Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters is an official philanthropic partner to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. The organization also partners with the park service through an education agreement, reaching thousands of students each year through the Katahdin Learning Project. Learn more at



Our Park Stories

This year, guides, staff, members and volunteers shared with us their connection to the monument through #myparkstory. Their stories inspired us but there was something about all of them that felt really familiar.

Here’s a recap of the park stories we heard this year:

“In 2019, my relationships to people and place in the Katahdin Region deepened. Our staff was four full-timers. We took a trip to Haskell Hut, ate well, and laughed a lot. In spring, I did my first paddle of the East Branch with four friends (counting the dog-pal pictured). At summer’s end I had the good fortune to visit with the Baxter Youth Conservation Corps as they wrapped up bridge construction over Katahdin Brook.” Read more here.

-Sam Deeran, FKWW Projects Director


“We drove up to Katahdin Woods and Waters on a sunny February morning. After a nice lunch at Matagamon Lodge, we parked at the north gate and enjoyed four hours of skiing on nicely packed pulk trails–without another human encounter!… We’ve been supporters of Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters since the very beginning and enjoy seeing the changes as they come. Signage has improved greatly! It’s a beautiful area to visit in all seasons.”

-Mary and J.R. Krevans, FKWW members, Bar Harbor



“Seven hours of driving logged on my son’s learner’s permit, a collective six books read, and 36 hours with almost no digital connection…We’ll be back again to experience that pace. And I like to think a trip like this can help us stay a bit more in the moment even at home the rest of the year.” Read more here.

-Sarah Andre, FKWW Development Coordinator


Photo used with permission from Mahoosuc Guide Services,



Kevin Slater, co-owner of Mahoosuc Guide Services talked to us this summer about his connection to Katahdin Woods & Waters through paddling. In 50 years of paddling the East Branch of the Penobscot, he’s learned that every paddling trip is a new experience–and he is an important witness to changes that slowly span the decades.   Read more here.



“In that moment, watching my friends sprint around the field showing each other what each telescope held made me realize the beauty of outdoors. The seasonal autumn feel against the beauty ahead of me began my love for the outdoors. And I think my friends fell in love too, without even realizing it.

Sure, Taylor’s Katahdin View Camps isn’t directly on the monument, but it still symbolizes the mix of community and nature that we strive for.” Read more here.

-Maggie O’Hara, FKWW High School Summer Educator


“Many evenings included guided discussions about how to recreate responsibly outdoors, plus storytelling around the campfire. The students learned history of the conserved lands that we visited,  the many types of land management styles, as well as the importance of protecting land for wildlife and recreation. Our reflections got deeper throughout the season. A student who first arrived shy and unsure of the outdoors was taking on leadership roles, volunteering answers to questions, and seeking more ways to get involved. In his own words: ‘It just feels really, really good to be out here in the wild’.” Read more here.

-Elise Goplerud, FKWW Education Coordinator



“Over the past several months, my first impressions of Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument have been slowly taking shape. #Myparkstory is still being written, but it now has a first chapter spanning three seasons and three unique encounters with this landscape that feels more unusual and inspiring with every visit.” Read more here.

-Brian Hinrich, FKWW Executive Director


Our final park story for 2023 is from Candy! Candy McKellar– a longtime resident of the Katahdin region, educator, artist, early and ardent supporter of Katahdin Woods and Waters, is also a constant volunteer on Katahdin Learning Project field trips. She shared a few of her favorite and formative memories of the national monument.

“Sitting on the Lynx Pond viewing platform, before it was even completed, with my new friend Nancy Hathaway. On this late afternoon in the fall we watched a mother moose and her two calves graze along the far edge of the pond. Climbing Barnard Mountain and easing through the split in the giant boulder on the trip up. Watching school children spill out of the yellow bus and line up to head out on a hike, or circle around an educator or ranger for an environmental lesson–tailored to the age of the group and the uniqueness of ‘our park.'”