Baxter Park Trip Report

My Baxter State Park trip report is long overdue! As usual, my report will be heavy on photos.

We all were excited to get out of work on Tuesday and get on the road north to Mt Chase Lodge.  We always stay there the night before our trips, it is a really perfect staging area for ski trips into Baxter’s north end.  Rick and Sara are amazingly gracious hosts who send us off into the park with warm smiles and full stomaches. 

We basically take over their lodge for the night as we get ready for our trip the next day.

Day 1

I tried to pack light, but decided I needed wine on this trip.

Maine Baxter State Park
My pack. Note 2 boxes of wine. It is a people pleaser!

After breakfast, we got on the trail for the 12 mile ski into South Branch Pond.   We stopped after 2-3 miles to get a group shot at the Mattagammon Gate house (unmanned in the winter).

Maine Baxter State Park

The crew heading out

It was a gorgeous day for a ski, the snow got a little sticky toward the end (that means it sticks like glue to the bottom of your skis and they stop sliding).  I pulled a rookie move and totally spaced a scraper and F4 (the tools used to battle sticky snow) and so I just kept chugging along swearing at myself for spacing two key pieces of backcountry gear.

At least I remembered the wine.

Baxter State Park, Maine

Excited to get started!

After about 4 hours, we reached South Branch Pond.  It is a really gorgeous place, one of my favorite places to be.

Maine Baxter State Park

South Branch Pond

The best part of getting to camp?  One of the guys carried a 6 pack of PorkSlap Ale.

Maine Baxter State Park

My new favorite beer. The one at camp.

Maine Baxter State Park

Cheesecake carried 12 miles in!

Day 2

We packed up our things and got ready to head across Big and Little South Branch Ponds and to Russell Pond.  It is about a 10 mile ski.  It felt kind of cold in the morning compared to the previous day, so we bundled up and got ready to head for our next camp.

Maine Baxter State Park

Bundled up to head across South Branch Pond


Baxter Park Maine

Heading across South Branch Pond

I don’t have a lot to say about the ski to Russell, except that it was a really nice ski with the usual climb up Pogy Notch that left us all struggling to herringbone up and over.  We were staying at Russell for 3 nights, a first for us. 

Maine Baxter State Park

Hanging out at Russell Pond Camp

The plan was to try to make it to Davis Pond – a 5.2 mile one way trip – the following day.  This is a very remote area, I think the most remote in the park.  We were hoping that someone ahead of us had tried to break trail part way to give us a better chance at reaching Davis (we were doubtful that someone else had, but we were hopeful nonetheless).

Day 3

So, we found out pretty quickly that we were breaking trail the whole way to Davis.  When I say we, I mean the guys in front of me.

Maine Baxter State Park

Heading toward Davis Pond

It was a completely gorgeous ski.  What started out as 7 ended up as 5 when 2 of our group decided to turn around.

Maine Baxter State Park

Stevie and I skiing toward Davis Pond

The “skiing” got steep and narrow, in that we were side stepping up a lot of really steep stuff that wasn’t wide enough for our skis to side step up.  I had done this trail in the summer, and I looked up at John (who was above my head, it was pretty steep) and told him that I remember it getting really steep AFTER the Wassataquoik Stream crossing (which we hadn’t reached yet). 

John mutters something along the lines of “$%%$%$%#.  How are we going to ski down this??” and then shouts up the trail to Jim (who is above HIS head):

“Hey Jim, Mandy says it gets steep in a bit.”

“%&#.  I was wondering when it was going to pick up.  She’s kidding right?”

“You’re kidding right?”

“haha. Nope.”

It was pretty tough going.  The snow was deep and fluffy, there was nothing for our skis to hold onto, and in this case, we were pretty sure skins wouldn’t have helped too much because the snow was kind of bottomless.  You would plant your pole for support and sink in to your armpit.

We eventually reached Wassataquoik Stream, and knowing that we had to cross it on the trail, we thought we would try skiing up it instead of the trail.  It turned out to be the best part of the day, and it was SO much easier going, there was a little less snow.  You just had to really pay attention to where you were going.

Baxter State Park, Maine, Wassataquoik Stream

Skiing up Wassataquoik Stream

We got to the crossing, and then kept climbing up toward Davis.   Again, the snow was deep and tough going, and we got together as a group and talked about “maybe using our brain today” (I mean, we carry the thing around, we might as well use it.  It is so heavy…blah blah)  Then we kept skiing up the trail.

So much for brains.

Finally we got to this super steep part.  The part I had remembered.  About a half mile from Davis Pond the trail shoots up pretty steeply.  Not a big deal in the summer, but in the winter in these conditions, it is a little different story.

We had been going for about 4-5 hours and it was approaching 2pm.  We had to call it.  Back down Wassataquoik Steam.  We stayed on the stream to avoid the steep narrow gully (that drops into a big rock) that we were all a little nervous about skiing down, and stayed on the stream for a long way.  It was gorgeous!

Baxter State Park, Maine

Wassataquoik Stream (aka Wonderland)

Maine Baxter State Park

Skiing down Wassataquoik Stream

Wassataquoik Stream

I am not so graceful

Another shot from Wassataquoik Stream

We continued on back to camp and had an awesome dinner.

Day 4

It was crazy windy, rainy, wet and just plain yucky out.  I skied about a half mile or so but mostly we all hung around camp, talked about going out for a ski “later”, and ate stuff we didn’t want to carry out the next day. 

Day 5

So sad.  It was time to leave.  4 of our group was going to ski to Roaring Brook, the rest of us schmos had to work the next day so we had to ski the 22 miles out.  We were worried about the lakes being slushy after the rain the previous day, but it turned out to be just fine.

It was a gorgeous day.

Baxter State Park, Maine

Looking back at Katahdin and Knifes Edge

We made it to South Branch Pond by 11:00am, grabbed a quick lunch, and then kept going out to the truck.  On the way we saw a partridge that was all puffed up and kind of running at us.  It was pretty funny.

Baxter State Park, Maine

Attack Partridge

As always, it was a fabulous trip!! We said our goodbyes and headed home with smiles on our faces.  

I can’t wait until next year!

About caratunkgirl

Short spunky girl from the tiny town of Caratunk, Maine. Active outdoor girl. I am a forester, whitewater raft guide, Ironman and 5x marathoner with Ultra dreams. Always ready for the next adventure with my dog Kineo by my side.
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23 Responses to Baxter Park Trip Report

  1. That sounds like an awesome trip! I can’t imagine doing that–I’m a little bit chicken. 🙂 Where was Porter? He must have missed you!

    • Mandy says:

      Porter stayed with Mom and Dad. I missed him but no dogs in the park. Plus that is pretty far for him :). He was spoiled!

  2. Jeff Irvin says:

    How much fun is that? Wow that is beauty!

    Welcome back!

  3. alma says:

    Stunning photos! Looks like such a good time with great friends.

  4. Michael says:

    I have never done anything like that before! It looks like an amazing trip…although I have to admit, I’m not too keen on anything with snow.

    • caratunkgirl says:

      It was a great trip – but not if you dont like snow 🙂 I am a snow hound… I would miss it if it didn’t come for me to play in! I will keep the pictures coming 🙂

  5. Matt Smith says:

    Wow! That was an incredible journey, and I don’t have a clue about that kind of skiing. It looks like a crazy intense workout! I bet Porter would have loved to go with you.

  6. Matt Oravec says:

    Beautiful pics Mandy! All I have to say is… that had I been on that trip, I would have sniffed out those cheesecake bites before we even got going, tackled WHOEVER was smuggling them and taken care of those things as my first priority … just saying, don’t you dare think you are going to hide cheesecake from this guy.

  7. shannon says:

    looks like such an awesome trip!! i haven’t seen much snow this winter… but i’m ready to ride 😉

  8. I loved your pictures of your trip to Baxter State Park and love reading about your New England Athletic Pursuits. I am in NH and went to Colby in Waterville, Maine. Love it here! Looking forward to reading more about your adventures!

  9. Anne-Marie says:

    Love it!! Gorgeous pictures. This makes me so sad that we didn’t have enough snow this winter for much good xc skiing (though “my” xc skiing – a few hours around groomed trails – is no where near as adventurous/hardcore as this…)

  10. Kevin says:

    Those photos are absolutely amazing!!!

    Not only does it sound like you had fun but it sounds like quite the workout. You should check out the book Long Distance by Bill McKibben ( He writes about training for endurance events with a focus on skiing. It relates to pretty much any endurance training but you’d probably enjoy the skiing aspect of it just as much.

    Glad to have you back!


  11. Molly says:

    gorgeous! I would have wiped out going down too, happy you had so much fun!

  12. Marcia says:

    What a fun adventure, wine and all! What is that white stuff? I seem to have forgotten.

  13. Oh Mandy, Thanks for sharing – especially the pictures ! as this would not be a trip to put on MY bucket list at this point so “hiking with you” is the next best thing ! Thank you so much for taking the time to share !
    Love you guys and happy St. Patrick’s day watch out fo rthe green beer !
    XOXO Janie

  14. Rick Farnsworth says:

    Googled “Davis Pond” in anticipation of a trip next week and did a double take: we were there at the same time! Oops! You were there last year and us this year. Very similar experience on the route to Davis. Next time will ski on Wass from Annis Brook up the fork to where the trail goes through the stream and snowshoe up from there. Klondike Pond may also be possible with the same plan and good conditions. Awesome area, though. We had 4 nights at Russell.

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