Katahdin named one of the world’s best hikes

By Christopher Burns, Bangor Daily News Staff

Katahdin’s rough-hewn features have long lured Mainers and people from around the world to the fierce mountaintop.

So the mountain has long been a special place for Mainers. Now Katahdin’s specialness is recognized on the international level.

National Geographic magazine recently counted Maine’s fabled mountain among the top 10 hikes in the world, alongside the 4,882-foot Hekla in Iceland, 6,102-foot Desolation Peak in Washington state and 6,617-foot Heng Shan Bei in China.

You won’t find the world’s highest or most unforgiving peaks — sorry, Mount Everest and Mount Washington. These mountains aren’t just challenging hikes, but also imbued with historic significance that, as National Geographic’s Doug Schnitzspahn put it, offers “a deeper connection to the surrounding landscape and people.”

That’s Katahdin.

The 5,267-foot-tall mountain sits as the crown jewel in Baxter State Park. It’s the northern terminus of the nearly 2,100-mile-long Appalachian Trail, drawing hundreds of would-be thru-hikers to Maine’s largest wilderness.

It’s not just hikers who have been drawn to Katahdin’s majesty. For nearly two centuries, it has attracted “transcendentalists,” “rolling stones” and “poets,” for whom National Geographic said Katahdin is especially suited.

Henry David Thoreau is among the most well-known seekers and artists drawn to Katahdin, where Thoreau Spring commemorates his 1846 ascent. His hike proved a humbling experience, as Katahdin was unlike the gardens, lawns and pastures of Concord, Massachusetts.

“Nature was here something savage and awful, though beautiful. … This was that Earth of which we have heard, made out of Chaos and Old Night,” Thoreau wrote of Katahdin.

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