OverviewNorth Brother 4,151 feet
South Brother 3,970 feet
Though Katahdin rightly gets all the fame, there are other mountains in Baxter State Park that are worthy of some attention. Here for your consideration are a pair of more modest peaks, which together with nearby Mount Coe (3,764'), allow for an excellent loop hike, well-suited for beginning hikers or as a warm-up, cool-down, or just a break from the crowds on Katahdin.
The Brothers are located just northwest of Katahdin, overlooking the Klondike. The views are almost as good as from Katahdin. Though these mountains don't offer the same kind of dramatically rugged features to study up close as Katahdin has, they do offer some particularly fine views west to Doubletop Mountain and northeast all the way to The Traveler.
North Brother ranks sixth on the AMC List of 4,000-footers in Maine. Since two of Katahdin's peaks are on that list, you could say North Brother is the fifth-highest mountain in Maine.
South Brother ranks sixty-ninth on the New England Hundred Highest list, and is significant in the history of science as one of the first places where fir waves attracted scientific notice. (You can see them better from Mt Coe, though.)
Peak-baggers following the New England Hundred Highest will use the summit of North Brother as the starting point for a bushwhack northward to nearby Fort Mountain, which is also notable for some airplane wreckage.
Getting ThereThe Brothers are located within Baxter State Park in the middle of Maine. Access to the park is usually through the southern entrance (or else by foot along the Appalachian Trail). From the town of Millinocket, follow Golden Road to the northwest about 18 miles. Once inside the gate, turn to follow the park road in a westerly direction (NOT North toward Roaring Brook). You will pass Abol Campground and Katahdin Stream Campground before reaching the trailheads at Foster Field Campground (for the longer route) and then Slide Dam (for the "standard" Marston Trail route).
Trails Overview"Standard" (Marston Trail) Route: A loop (er, melting lollipop with two short extra sticks) formed by the Marston Trail and the Mount Coe Trail (with the North Brother Trail closing the eastern end). May be done in either direction, but consider that the Mt Coe Trail consists largely of a rockslide and may be difficult when wet. About nine miles round trip.
Longer Variation: Start at Foster Field, take the O-J-I Trail (aka Southslide Trail) north about two and a half miles over the summit of Mount O-J-I to the O-J-I Link Trail to reach the southern end of the lollipop (near Mt Coe). Since the lollipop "stick" is a mile and a half longer, this route adds three miles. Also, assuming OJI's south slide (which I haven't hiked) is as steep and wet as its north slide (trail closed), this route is significantly more challenging than the "standard" route.
Red TapeThese peaks are located within Baxter State Park , and lots of Rules apply. Some highlights:
Gate Fee $14 per vehicle (cars registered in Maine are exempt) as of fall 2014.
Leave No Trace, no camping outside designated sites. You will need reservations to use the campsites .
Things get even more bureaucratic in the off-season; visit the Park website for more info.
When To ClimbYear-round, but you will need to register in advance for winter hiking or camping (ie, December through March). Make sure you read up on the winter rules. The rangers are likely to inspect your pack to be sure you are in compliance with gear requirements.
CampingOnly in designated areas.
The nearest campgrounds are Nesowadnehunk Field, about three miles north of Slide Dam on the park road, and
Katahdin Stream, about five miles south of Slide Dam on the park road.
There is also a more primitive tentsite at Foster Field.
Tent sites in summer go for $9 per person per night, $18 minimum
(Nesowadnehunk offers a per-site family rate of $18. If you don't like kids, consider yourself warned.)
Mountain ConditionsCall the rangers for updates: (207)723-5140.
They may make reference to the park's Weather Classification system.
Also try Views From the Top for reader-contributed trail condition reports.