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