You can hike, bike, paddle, ski, snowmobile and explore local museums with the suggested trips and experiences described below.

Whether you’re in the Monument or enjoying the nearby towns of Patten and Millinocket, it’s a good idea to have the Map Adventures Recreational Map of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, which you can purchase through our online shop.

Click on a trip or experience below to read more.

Winter Trips
XC Ski or SNowSHOe the Old River Road
Intermediate 3.8 mile Loop

For a shorter XC ski or snowshoe with views of the wintry East Branch of the Penobscot – often frozen, but still coursing with water –  park at the North Gate. From there, you’ll head south ono Messer Pond Road for just .2 miles until you hit your first trail crossing. Take a sharp left, heading due East towards the East Branch. You will ski for .3 miles until you hit the Old River Rd. Take a right onto the Old River Road and enjoy views of the East Branch for the next 1.7 miles until the trail bends right and meets with the Oxbow Road. At this juncture, take a right and stay on the Oxbow Road for .4 miles until you meet the Messer Pond Road. From here, you’re 1.2 miles south of where you parked. Head north to find your car and complete the loop.

If you are snowshoeing, please help maintain the groomed trails for the groomers and XC skiers by walking alongside and not on top of the XC track.

XC Ski or SNowSHOe to Haskell Rock Pitch
intermediate 11 miles Round-trip

For a lovely day-long ski through the woods and visit to the unique geological features running beneath the falls of the East Branch of the Penobscot, head to the north side of the Monument. You’ll want to pack a lunch for this trip, as you can expect to be out in the woods through most of the day.

After parking, head south along the Messer Pond Road, which is also part of the International Appalachian Trail (IAT). It’s 3.5 miles straight down the Messer Pond Rd until you take your first turn. You’ll pass junctures at .2 miles and 1.2 miles, but should stay straight on the Messer Pond Rd. After 3.5 miles, you’ll come to the Haskell Gate. Take a left and head due east, staying on the IAT for about 2 miles, at which point you’ll come to the shore of the East Branch of the Penobscot River. The view at this point on the river showcases both the Haskell Rock Pitch and Haskell Rock itself – named to memorialize a log driver who met his untimely demise while removing a logjam in 1841. To return to your car, head back north along the IAT. All told, the out and back trip from the North Gate to Haskell Rock Pitch totals about 11 miles.

For a view of the expansive Haskell Deadwater on your way back, you can take a right to the Haskell Hut. On your return, you can also visit Stair Falls by turning right off the IAT after the turn-off for Haskell Hut – although you should keep in mind that the trail is .6 miles of ungroomed track.

If you are snowshoeing, please help maintain the groomed trails for the groomers and XC skiers by walking alongside and not on top of the XC track.

Snowmobile the Katahdin Region

Snowmobiling is available all across the Katahdin Region and trails intersect the parcels on the east side of the East Branch of the Penobscot River. For a snowmobile map of the entire Katahdin Region, check out the Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Katahdin Snowmobile Trail Map. Trails near the Monument are maintained by the Bowlin Matagamon Snowmobile Club, Twin Pines Snowmobile Club, and Benedicta Snow Gang. You can find up-to-date trail and grooming conditions on the following pages:

Spring, Summer, Fall Trips
Hike Barnard Mountain
hike 4 miles round-trip

This short day-hike up Barnard Mountain, just east of Katahdin Lake, offers beautiful sweeping views of the Katahdin tablelands and the towering Katahdin massif. To get to the trail-head, drive along the Loop Road until you reach a parking lot at the northwestern part of the loop past mile 11. If you’ve driven to mile 12, you’ve gone just a bit too far. Park your vehicle and begin the walk due north along the IAT. The path is an old logging road, which you’ll follow for a little over a mile until you reach the Barnard Mountain Trail. Take a right up the path, which leads you half a mile along the shoulder of Barnard Mountain until you reach the peak. Enjoy breathtaking views, and maybe lunch, before heading back the way you came and driving out along the remainder of the Loop Road.

walk to the falls OF the East Branch of the Penobscot
WALK 6 1/2 miles round-trip

For a lovely walk in the woods and visit to the unique geological features running beneath the falls of the East Branch of the Penobscot, head to the north side of the monument. Drive your vehicle through Matagamon Gate due south until you reach the parking area at Haskell Gate. From there, walk along the IAT due east until you reach a fork in the trail. Take the left to visit Stair Falls and/or continue along the IAT south to visit Haskell Hut, a quaint camp renovated for monument visitors with a striking view of the Haskell Deadwater. From Haskell Hut, continue south to visit the Haskell Rock Pitch – the rock named to memorialize a log driver who met his untimely demise while removing a logjam in 1841.

If you have a bit more time, consider adding 2 miles round-trip to your walk by heading further south along the IAT until you reach Grand Pitch. The falls feature a larger drop and a more forceful surge of water than found at Haskell Rock Pitch and Stair Falls.

Drive the Loop Road
17 mile drive // ~ 2.5 Hours

Grab a copy of the Loop Road Interpretive Map, pack a good lunch, and set out in a four-wheel drive vehicle with decent clearance and you’ll be ready for a trip around the iconic Loop Road in the south of the monument.

The 17-mile Loop Road offers a great opportunity to see the southern portion of the monument and includes pull-offs with scenic views. There are several short hikes from trail-heads along the Loop Road. Allow approximately 2.5 hours to drive the loop and enjoy a few stops for sightseeing and even more time if you plan to hike.

A project of the Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters, the Loop Road Interpretive Map is keyed to “stops” along the Loop Road. The map features information about the historical, biological, and geological significance of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument’s southern landscape.

Bike LOOP From Bowlin Camps to the Lookout
Advanced Bike 13.2 Miles // ~ 6 – 9 Hours

Having a Map Adventures Trail map is highly recommended for this route, as roads and trails are not all indicated with signs at important junctures. For more details, read our trip report of an overnight version of this trek. Skip below for a shorter version of this trip.

Pack a good lunch and start your day by driving to Bowlin Camps Lodge. Founded in 1895, its one of the oldest camps in the region. It sits on a beautiful stretch of the East Branch of the Penobscot and they offer parking for the day for $10.

Unload your bikes and head out due west across the East Branch on the Bowlin Suspension Bridge. Go up the short hill after the bridge. You’ll come across a sign pointing to the north and south along the International Appalachian Trail (IAT). Take a right along to the north on the IAT. Stay straight and bike along the K Comp Rd for .7 miles. You’ll merge back up with the IAT at The Pines area for another .7 miles. Then veer left to bike along the K Comp Rd for 1.5 miles. Eventually, you’ll hit the juncture of the K Comp Rd and Little Messer Pond Rd. Take a left there and bike 2.7 miles until you hit the Lookout Trail .3 miles after the turnoff to Big Spring Brook Hut. You can bike up the Lookout Trail nearly to the top of the Scenic Lookout. When you cross a fork in the trail after a mile, stay left on the Lookout Trail. There will be forks to the left after the first. Only take your first left. Continue for 1.4 miles until the trail narrows and starts winding into the woods. You will need to leave your bikes or carry them to walk the last few hundred yards to the Lookout. Enjoy sweeping views of the monument to the east, and Katahdin and the Katahdin tablelands to the southwest.

To loop back to Bowlin Camps, go down the Lookout Trail and take a right out onto Little Messer Pond Rd. Bike .3 miles and then turn left onto Keyhole Rd. Take the fun, gradual downhill bike along Keyhole Road 2.9 miles until you hit the IAT. Turn left onto the IAT and bike 1.4 miles until you hit the hilltop where you first came up from the Bowlin Suspension Bridge. From there, take the bridge and return to your car.

To take a shorter mountain bike trip to the Lookout, park at the Haskell Gate in the north of the monument. Set out east then south along the IAT for 2.6 miles until you hit the Little Messer Pond Rd. Take the Little Messer Pond Rd .3 miles until you hit the juncture of the K Comp Rd and Little Messer Pond Rd. Follow the directions from that juncture to the Lookout, as described above. When you return from the Lookout Trail, take a left onto the Little Messer Pond Rd, back along the way you came. Return to the IAT and head north then west to return to your car at the Haskell Gate.

Paddle Shin Pond

Near Shin Pond Village and on your way to the north of the monument, there are two beautiful ponds that can be paddled. To paddle Lower Shin Pond, bring a canoe, kayak, or stand up paddle board to the boat launch on Lower Shin Pond. To access the boat launch head north on Rt. 159 towards Shin Pond Village and take a left before you’ve reached the bridge at the north of Lower Shin Pond. Put in at the pond and enjoy a leisurely paddle around the lake. There are two small sections of the monument, which abut the pond and can be accessed from the shore along the southeastern shores.

If you ever stay as a guest at nearby Mt. Chase Lodge, you’re welcome to take out one of the four canoes and four kayaks they have on the shores of Upper Shin Pond. If you’re paddling in a Mt. Chase Lodge boat, it is required that you wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD), also available at Mt. Chase Lodge.

Year-Round Experiences
Visit the Patten Lumbermen's Museum

On your way to adventures in the north of the monument, stop in at the Lumbermen’s Museum on Rt. 159 right outside Patten. At the Lumbermen’s Museum, you can learn all about Maine logging history, including the use of bateaux on waterways to transport supplies, the stories of the fearless river drivers, what life was like inside a remote logging camp, and even the role of bean hole beans. The Lumbermen’s Museum also houses one of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument’s Visitor Contact Stations and sells the waterproof, recreational Map Adventures trail map Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters co-published. The Lumbermen’s Museum is open 10 AM – 4 PM Tuesday to Sunday.