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