Katahdin Peak Knife Edge Trail

HARD 29 reviews
#2 of 23 trails in

Katahdin Peak Knife Edge Trail is a 9.1 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Millinocket, Maine that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October.

DISTANCE
9.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
5826 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

birding

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

snow

no dogs

Extremely challenging trail along steep, loose rock pile atop 2000 ft cliffs; fantastic views. The Knife edge is very rugged in places - the Chimney is almost a technical climb. The Baxter Peak side of the Knife Edge is a boulder scramble. The gap between Pamola and Chimney peaks can be very challenging because it is very steep and many of the rocks you have to climb up lean in towards the gap. These can be very dangerous in wet weather. Proper equipment and experience are a requirement. This hike should not be taken lightly and you should listen to the rangers prior to making the climb. There is not much help around if you run into trouble. This route is completely exposed and several people have died or have been seriously injured while attempting a traverse in inclement weather and/or high winds. Do not attempt to leave the ridge once you have started. Hiking Knife Edge across and back is not recommended due to its difficulty and the amount of time it adds to the hike it takes approximately 1 to 2 hrs. one way. Access to Knife Edge is from the Roaring Brook Campground. Hiking it from the Hunt or Abol Trails means ending at Roaring Brook Campground, an hour by road from your vehicle on the other side of the mountain. Shuttle service is not provided. Rangers will allow you to pick up if after about 3PM. There is no water on this trail. Trailhead Parking Lots: Roaring Brook Campground, Abol Campground, or Katahdin Stream Campground Note rangers require you to carry a flashlight.

1 month ago

Unbelievable really. The most exhilarating hike in New England if not the entire Northeast. Don’t even think about doing this hike unless you are in great physical shape and an experienced hiker.

hiking
1 month ago

One of the most rewarding mountains I've ever climbed. In my opinion one of the only climbs in the east that is comparable to mountains out west. Similar to some climbs I've done in the Rockies. Some class III even class IV maneuvers near the chimney section of the knife edge. We climbed on October 23rd, 50+ degrees and sunny with 10-15mph winds ON THE PEAK: very rare for this time of year. One local said it was the warmest October since the 1940s. A lot of websites/forums will mislead you saying Baxter closes the trails on October 15th which is totally false. Just monitor weather very closely, NE weather at altitude is known to be dangerous and unpredictable. Always carry gloves, warm hat, rain gear, layers, dry socks, high calorie foods, flashlight and first aid/moleskin. My girlfriend and I consumed about 5 liters of water combined. Bear spray is not needed because the black bears are very skittish in this area. Keep a safe distance from moose because bull moose can gore you to death. You are above the tree line for at least 60% of this hike. Do not attempt after first snow event or with any rime ice unless very experienced and with proper gear because there is a great deal of exposure in some places and one slip could be fatal. Also do not attempt with a fear of heights. Be prepared for 9-10 miles of very strenuous hiking/boulder hopping/climbing/sliding with about 4000 ft of elevation gain depending on route. We started at roaring brook and took Helon Taylor (pr: Heel-on) up and Saddle down which I thought was the best route. Dudley is closed and taking Cathedral down looked deadly. Do not recommend reversing loop because it is a lot more suspenseful doing knife edge as you approach south peak and baxter peak, also reversing would save a lot of tough climbing for the end. Anyways, be prepared and have fun!

hiking
2 months ago

Scariest thing I’ve ever done. This made Cathedral Trail seem easy!!!!! We had 20-25 mph winds on a clear day, with gusts up to 35 mph, possibly more. Don’t even attempt this if it is raining, icy or snowing. I have a healthy fear of heights and this was the most challenging trek mentally. Physically it is not all that demanding but excess caution should be used. This is mostly climbing and scrambling. Make sure you get to the Togue Pond Gate EARLY if you don’t have a parking pass. They save approximately 5 parking spots for those without passes. We parked at Roaring Brook Campground and trekked Chimney Pond, up Cathedral to Baxter Peak and across Knife Edge and descended via Helon Taylor. This is a full day hike - and for me, mentally challenging. It was a full body physical effort for much of Cathedral and Knife Edge, make sure you’re fully prepared for this. Also make sure you have plenty of attire to accommodate your needs as the temperature can change vastly as you summit. Completed on 10/1/17. **Additionally** we did encounter a black bear about a mile into our trek on Chimney Pond Trail. Just make sure you use caution and educate yourself about what to do if you run into wildlife. We had (obv) no issues, but worth tossing into the description!

hiking
2 months ago

That was amazing! first time for me and a friend, we started at Roaring Brook parking lot, did it by Chimney Pond, Cathedral, knife edge then Helon. We did it in 8h25min with 25min for lunch at Baxter Peak. We loved so much this hike that we must return next year; same trail, same loop. I drank 4liters of water but it was really hot and humid. Don't forget to buy your permit (parking/hiking) before going - you can't do it if they are all reserved since there is a certain amount of people that can go per day. Lots of scrambling, some places are more technical but nothing too hard, just take your time and enjoy the view, Katahdin is unique!

hiking
2 months ago

So we hiked this section after coming up from the saddle trail. i will break up the knife's edge into 3 sections . easy, hard, very hard. the first section was remarkably easy and mostly hiking on rocks. then after a small descent comes the hard part. the path becomes pretty narrow and some care is required. slowly it becomes a crawl across rocks and it alternates a bit between a crawl and climb. we were probably a bit more on the safer side since we were pretty much amateurs at this type of a climb. There is a portion of 15-20 feet where u are on the edge literally holding on to the rocks sideways . this was probably the hardest part of the hike. I kept thinking this would have to be the hardest part and there cant be anything worse.. but i guess there still is something left. the chimneys( no idea why the **** its named so ) . WE had originally planned to climb this part up but since we took the wrong trail.( i.e miss the helon taylor trail) . It is very narrow section where u cannot see where to go next, cause u cannot see where to place ur feet next or where to hold on to. It's kind of a leap of faith moment for whoever is ahead since the rest can follow. I had to steady my nerves and literally find a way to descend... once u do it you will fell it was easy but finding where to place ur legs and where to hold on to is the hard part. . after this i took an alternate easy path to reach the summit of pamola peak(50m). the trail also was easy itself apparently but i was pretty much done taking any more risks by the end of it. Somehow i feel it is better to do the knife's edge from baxter to pamola atleast the first time since you would be crawling/climbing up and not down which is probably more natural. it took us 2 hours to do this section. sure we could have done it faster, but for amateurs i think this we did it in reasonable time. the hike down pamola to roaring brook campground feels like a never ending journey. I was more tired mentally than physically to tell the truth. It was a full moon night and yet it was pitch black. do get headlamps. I mean headlamps and not flashlights. because the path down is very rocky and at most times you need to use ur hands. It is hard to find the trail indicators in the night and any form of gps would be very useful. We had to cling onto another group since we were pretty much the last peple coming back and we did not want to get lost in any way.
Upon reaching the campgrounds safely my happiness knew no bounds. This is not a hike i would advise anyone to take up unless you done some hiking at high elevations . if the weather is even slighty foggy or if rain is around the corner do not attemp this. It is ridicoulously easy to slip here since the rocks are loose in some places. carry sufficient water. atleast 2-3 litres.

3 months ago

Absolutely breathtaking! Nevertheless, it is HARD.

3 months ago

Very challenging but thoroughly enjoyed it. We took Cathedral trail to Knife Edge. Nice day.... I certainly wouldn't do this hike on a windy or less than ideal day.

hiking
4 months ago

The hardest day hike I have ever done and I have done every high hill on the east coast (to include Mt Washington 3x) and many out west. A couple of reasons for this. First this Mt is in a very isolated area. Literally in the middle of nowhere. Baxter state park is huge and very spread out. Despite that the campgrounds get reserved and filled up many months in advance. This is an issue as if you don't stay the park you have to get a parking permit (very limited numbers), take a shuttle from an outside campground (expensive and logistically a pain in the ass) , or hike in from the Appalachian trail (20 + miles).
We had to stay off park at the Adol Bridge campground, which is about 10-15 miles on a dirt road from the trailhead. The campground itself is pretty good. They have a free breakfast for people staying there, a small store and a place to eat. The people are very helpful and friendly. However, There is zero phone service and you are a long, long way from the nearest town. In any case we had to take a shuttle to get to the trailhead and they couldn't take us there until 9 am. This is very late to start on this hike. Our route was to be up Cathedral trail to the summit and down the Knifes edge. Cathedral is a easy hike for about 3 miles then goes straight rock scrambling to just short of the summit. Very tough, but fun. Do not attempt to come down this trail!! Up only. The weather was good until we got to the summit, it then turned sour with fog and rain. We very foolishly decided to still descend the Knifes edge trail. This turned out to be a big mistake. The rain made the trail almost impossible and to make a long story short we were lucky to make it down without someone getting seriously injured. I won't go into the details, I'll just say do not attempt Knifes edge unless the weather is clear and dry and you are in top condition. Myself and my two boys are experienced hikers and in the best of shape and I found it very tough and dangerous, see my pics. There was another much easier trail to get down, but we let our pride get in the way of good judgement. Don't make that mistake, IMO we were very lucky. In the end it took us 9 hours to hike 10 miles. I would love to do this again, but in sunny dry weather only.

hiking
4 months ago

Hardest thing I ever did in my life
Cathedral trail around the Knifes edge
Amazing , incredible , worth every soar muscle fiber I got from it
Do this trek !!! You won't regret it

5 months ago

DO THIS HIKE ! AMAZING !

5 months ago

awesome hike!!!

6 months ago

Intense and with gusts of wind shooting up the slopes, unnerving. Definitely memorable.

hiking
7 months ago

most thrilling hike ever! bring at least 4 liters of water, and enjoy the views :)

Friday, July 29, 2016

A wonderful experience. Challenging and satisfying

hiking
Thursday, December 10, 2015

AMAZING. So hard. Life-changing.

hiking
Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Aptly named. Knife edge was wonderful!!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Intense

hiking
Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hands down my favorite hike. Challenging with scrambling, some climbing (the Chimney), epic views for the entire trip. One thing we found out the hard way- you have to make reservations to hike this mountain!

hiking
Monday, September 15, 2014

We did an absolutely awesome up and over starting from Katahdin Stream up the Hunt Trail to Baxter Peak, across the Knife Edge (top to bottom), and down the Helon-Taylor trail, about 10 miles and 12 hours (we took lots of pictures and videos). The Knife Edge is really a technical non-technical trail due mostly to the part between Chimney and Pamola Peaks, where the trail goes vertical. Being tall gives you an advantage to reach the handholds and foot placements. Be sure to stay focused during the whole trek, as one mistake can cost an ankle, a knee, or your life. I would not recommend doing this hike in wet or very windy conditions. We had a beautiful day, with clouds in and out. The views are amazing. If you don't get vertigo, can handle lots of rock scrambling and free-climbing, and really enjoy a challenging hike, this one is for you. I highly recommend it...

hiking
Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wow. Just wow! We were there during high winds and got hit by hail several times. Took forever to get across but the view is unbelievable and the pictures last forever.

Look, I have a fear of heights. I was pretty sketched out a couple of times on this hike. So glad I did it. Amazing.

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