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Abol Trail (CLOSED)

Abol Trail (CLOSED)

Abol Trail (CLOSED)

Page Type: Route

Location: Maine, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 45.90440°N / 68.9228°W

Object Title: Abol Trail (CLOSED)

Route Type: scramble

Time Required: Most of a day

Difficulty: very steep walk-up

Route Quality: 
 - 11 Votes


Page By: nartreb

Created/Edited: Oct 5, 2004 / Aug 7, 2015

Object ID: 162388

Hits: 33100 

Page Score: 74.33%  - 7 Votes 

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TRAIL CLOSED SINCE 2014.  Relocation work under way, possibly into 2016

Update August 2015:  The new route may not be finished in time for a spring 2016 opening.  Park Director Jensen Bissell, as quoted in the Bangor Daily News:   

“I’m not sure if it will be open next spring... We’re working as hard as we can. … 

At the very latest, it will open sometime next year.  I just don’t know if we’ll open it fully or limit the number of hikers to something like 50 percent of the traffic at first.”

Update December 2014:  A reliable source tells me the (original) Abol trail is open for winter use.  This makes sense, as the danger of rockslides is considerably diminished while the ground is frozen and the rocks are buried in snow.  Note that snow avalanches are a very real risk on this route.

From the Baxter State Park Authority website, October 2014 (emphasis added):

Baxter State Park Authority Approves Abol Trail Relocation
The Baxter State Park Authority approved a $100,000 trail relocation effort to relocate the Abol Trail off of the Abol Slide. The Abol Slide is currently closed due to recent soil, rock and debris movement creating unstable and hazardous conditions. The new trail will be slightly longer but with a reduced grade and improved footing. The new trail will provide safer travel for hikers, an easier ascent to the Tableland of Katahdin and great views. Crews will begin work in the near future. The new trail may be open as early as the fall of 2015.

In the meantime, the Abol trail remains closed.
From the Baxter State Park Authority's Facebook page, June 4th, 2014 (emphasis added):

Late last winter substantial debris movement occurred on most of the portion of the Abol Trail ascending the Abol Slide. 
The resulting debris field presents an area of exceptional hazard with a high risk of additional downslope movement of rocks, large boulders and debris.
As wilderness stewards, our philosophy is to protect the Park’s resources and to provide accurate and complete advice and recommendations for safe and responsible travel in a wilderness environment.
Abol Slide presents significant hazard not only to the individual hiker, but to other hikers in the vicinity, especially to any hikers downslope.
Existing hazards on the slide will significantly limit or prevent any search and rescue response in the area.
In response to the clear and present danger, the Abol Trail is closed for 2014 hiking season. 
Hiking on the Abol Trail is prohibited. Hikers on the trail will be subject to summons and billed for cost reimbursement of any search and rescue expense incurred on their behalf.
Day Use Parking Reservation (DUPR) capacity at Katahdin Stream and Roaring Brook Campgrounds has been increased to accommodate the closure of the Abol Trail.
We will be developing a plan for future options regarding this important and popular Katahdin-access route.

The new route will start on the original trail leaving Abol Campground, but before reaching the rockslide it will diverge to the northwest, making a traversing ascent for a while before switchbacking along the rib that is west of the slide.  The new route will rejoin the old trail just below the Tablelands.


IMPORTANT: this page describes the Abol Trail as it existed until 2014.  When the new route opens (originally projected for fall 2015,  but sometime in 2016 now seems more likely), it will have the same beginning and ending but will *not* follow the rockslide that defined the character of the old trail.

The Abol Trail provides the most direct access to Baxter Peak, making it attractive to day hikers who arrive by car to the park's southern entrance and wish to start gaining altitude right away. The nearby Hunt Trail is less monotonously steep and offers wider views, but if you wish to see fewer Appalachian Trail through-hikers, or you just prefer a shorter and steeper route, then the Abol will be your choice. It is possible (though tiring and time-consuming) to continue on from Baxter Peak to South Peak, the Knife Edge, and Pamola Peak, but if your primary goal is a day trip over the Knife Edge then you should consider the Helon Taylor trail, which also has easy road access.


The trailhead is within the Abol Campground. The campground is on the perimeter road not far from the park's southern entrance.

Route Description

Click links to see corresponding photos.

Starts as an easy wooded trail at about 1200 ft elevation. On this lower section the trail follows a streambed as often as not.
After about an hour, slope increases some more and the trees thin out just enough to afford partial views. Soon thereafter the trail heads straight up a VERY STEEP rockslide, which takes you all the way up to the summit plateau and the intersection with the Hunt Trail (A.T.) by Thoreau Spring (about 4600 ft elevation) Note: Thoreau Spring is not always reliable in late summer.
The Baxter Cut-Off continues north-northeast, avoiding Baxter Peak and instead providing a flat route to the eastern edge of the Saddle. Take a right on the Hunt Trail to bag the summit.

Essential Gear

Nothing other than the usual New England weather gear.
Waterproof boots are a good idea though not really needed if you watch your step.
You'll need your hands often enough that you might not want to bring trekking poles.
Check with the park rangers before planning a snow or ice climb - when we were there in October, the rangers had closed the top of the mountain for a day due to a couple of inches of snow. The Abol Trail would be very slippery with only a little snow or ice. I've climbed other New England peaks in icy conditions using just crampons and poles, but I wouldn't want to try it on this trail: arrest could be a real problem.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.