BAXTER STATE PARK, Maine -- 08/12/17 -- BDN reporter Aislinn Sarnacki wades into Nesowadnehunk Stream at Ledges Falls with her 5-year-old niece Willamina Sarnacki-Wood on Aug. 12, in Baxter State Park. (Courtesy of Joyce Clark Sarnacki)

Located in the eastern central portion of Maine and nestled next to Mount Katahdin, the Katahdin Region is a truly unique all-season vacation destination. Whether you consider yourself a rugged outdoorsman, fan of extreme sports, an arts and culture buff, or just enjoy taking in the sights, a visit to the area won’t disappoint.

While many come simply for the breathtaking views or to scale Mount Katahdin, the area boasts a variety of activities for solo travelers, adventurers, and families alike, with hidden gems for those who dare to explore off the beaten path. From skiing and mountain biking to camping and day hikes, there are countless ways to become immersed in Kathadin’s vast outdoor spaces.

Whitewater Adventures 

Perhaps one of the more underrated gems in the Katahdin Region is its vast network of waterways. The area’s largest river, the Penobscot, has a wild side, making it a go-to for whitewater rafting. For a challenging yet fun rapids adventure, make your way to the New England Outdoor Center (NEOC) which offers full and half-day rafting trips, including routes through the beautiful Ripogenus Gorge, where you can enjoy stunning views of Mount Katahdin.

Wandering Waterways

If you’re not much of a thrill-seeker but still want to enjoy the water, a leisurely way to explore the Penobscot is by tubing from Abol Bridge. This family-friendly activity lets you float down the river while also catching glimpses of the mountain. Not a fan of rivers? Head to Daicey or Togue Pond, where you can rent canoes and explore Katahdin’s waterways at your own pace. 

Trails for All 

Another great way to explore the Katahdin Region is by land. The area offers trails of various intensities, perfect for hiking, mountain biking, fat biking, and x-country skiing. 

Baxter State Park is one of Maine’s true jewels with a well-developed trail system of its own catering to all skill levels. For those not looking to summit Mount Katahdin, the park has countless trails to explore with unexpected and beautiful sights around each bend. 

For a moderate hike, Katahdin Stream Falls is a local favorite. Following the Appalachian Trail, this two-mile hike takes you to the base of Mount Katahdin and is especially picturesque in the spring when the snow melts from the mountain’s high peaks.

Nature’s Waterpark

For those taking in Baxter State Park during the summer, kids and adults alike will love exploring Ledge Falls, where you can spend the day swimming and sliding down natural waterslides. There isn’t even a need for a hike as this wonder can be found right alongside the road in Medway.

Wildlife Watching

It wouldn’t be a trip to the Katahdin Region if you didn’t try to spot the majestic creature Maine is famous for – the mighty moose. While never guaranteed, one of the best ways to find them is out near Sandy Stream Pond, particularly in the early mornings or late evening. 

Another great area for wildlife watching is The Katahdin Woods & Waters Scenic Byway, where you’ll find many local residents, including deer, bears, beavers, bald eagles, and loons.

The Arts Scene

The Katahdin Region’s uniqueness goes beyond the outdoors, with opportunities to engage in the area’s culture, particularly art. Millinocket is home to many shops and galleries, including North Light Gallery, a must-see for fine art crafted by local Maine artists.

For an even deeper immersion into the arts scene, the Ktaadn Arts Education Center & Gallery hosts an art collective in East Millinocket featuring studio space and classes. This is a great place to meet artists and purchase some of their work. 

Rent Your Gear

If you’re visiting but want to pack light, you’re in luck! The Millinocket Library has a gear lending program offering everything from skis and bikes to backpacks and canoes. Medway’s Penobscot River Trails offers free cross-country ski rentals. And if you stay at outdoor centers like NEOC, you can enjoy complimentary canoe and kayak rentals.  

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