OverviewLocated in Baxter State Park near Millinocket, Maine, the 3,764-foot Mount Coe ranks as the 22nd highest peak in Maine and the 90th highest peak in New England. It is a required summit for those seeking to complete the popular New England Highest Hundred list and is also part of the Marston Loop regularly hiked by non-peakbagging visitors to Baxter State Park. If attempting the Marston Loop in a counter-clockwise direction, Mount Coe is the first of two to four New England Highest Hundred peaks that can be bagged during a day's outing. South Brother, North Brother and Fort Mountain are the other mountains that can be added depending on how long of an agenda you desire. Approaching the peak in the counter-clockwise manner allows the hiker to enjoy a moderate slide climb that tops out just below the summit of Coe. Much of the hike is in the open and expansive 360-degree views are a just reward.
Getting ThereThe southern entrance to Baxter State Park is approximately 17 miles north of the village of Millinocket. To reach the Park, follow Central Street (Route 11/157) through Millinocket to the obivious intersection with Bates Street at the western edge of the village. Turn right on Bates Street and then bear left on Millinocket Road. From here, simply follow the signs to Baxter State Park along the rough road. The southern Togue Pond Gate offers the best access for the Mount Coe - Marston Loop agenda. Once inside the Park, follow the Perimeter Road for another 14 miles to the old Slide Dam Picnic area where the route to the summit of Mount Coe begins. Start early and allow ample time for travel along rough roads and passage into the Park at the Togue Pond Gatehouse.
The HikeThe shortest, easiest and most common route to the summit of Mount Coe leaves the Perimeter Road and ascends more than 2,500 feet over 3.3 miles to the bald summit. The route is never overly steep but qualifies as a rigorous outing nonetheless. Most of the route rates as Class 1 with some short sections of Class 2 terrain on the slide itself.
Leaving the parking area, the hiker should travel east on the Marston Trail through a deciduous forest and follow the route uphill until the junction with the Mount Coe trail at the 1.2 mile point. Turn right at the trail junction, where the meat of the hike begins. While the hiker has gained about 400-500 vertical feet by this point, the climb becomes progressively steeper, netting about 2,100 vertical gain over the final 2.1 miles. The slide itself can be slick when wet so one should consider staying near the edge of the slide during the ascent if conditions are damp. About 1.6 miles after the Marston/Coe junction, the trail passes another junction, this time with the O-J-I Link Trail, thus presenting another option for the day.
The slide reaches its end only .2 miles from the peak of Mount Coe. After topping out on the slide, it is an easy walk through the scrub to the open summit. As mentioned earlier, the views from the summit are stellar. The photos above and below this text represent just a few of the peaks that can be seen from the top. Perhaps the most impressive is the Kathadin massif that can be viewed to the southeast.
Completing the rest of the Marston Loop requires at least another 3.6 miles of hiking. Continuing over the top of Coe, it is about 0.8 miles to the lowpoint between Coe and South Brother. Another 1/10th of a mile will take you to the junction with the South Brother Spur trail, which leads to the summit of that 3,970-foot peak in about 1/4 of a mile. South Brother ranks #69 among New England Highest Hundred Peaks. The upper junction with the Marston Trail is situated just beyond the South Brother Spur Trail. Once back on the Marston Trail, the hiker can complete the circuit in 2.6 miles of downhill hiking by bearing left. Bearing right will present you with the option of reaching the tops of North Brother and Fort Mountain.
Red TapeStandard Baxter State Park Rules and Regulations apply. A visit to the official park website should answer any questions you might have. Start early, be prepared and have fun.
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