Maine Geography: Maine's Largest Chunk of Granite

"Man is born to Die, His Works are Short-lived

Buildings Crumble, Monuments Decay, Wealth Vanishes

But Katahdin in All Its Glory

Forever Shall Remain the Mountain of the 

People of Maine"


These are the words of Percival Baxter, the man who founded Baxter State Park. And for almost anyone that conjures up an image of the park, they look no further than Katahdin. Maine's tallest mountain, Katahdin is one of the most important icons that the State of Maine has (right next to lobster and moose of course). From a geographical standpoint, it is a "man among boys". While its elevation isn't exactly the highest of the highest, because of the low-level timberlands that surround the mountain, it appears huge. It can be seen from miles away and towers over the landscape. While call it Maine's largest chunk of granite? Well, it is in fact comprised of granite (I know, pretty catchy label for the mountain). When most look at it, they tend to think it looks like a volcano. While it does have craters that appear to have been caused by volcanic eruptions, they have actually been created from glacial movements over the granite filled mountain. Nestled about 20 miles from Millinocket, Maine, the mountain is the heart of the region. Throughout the entire year, people come from all over to either view the mountain or take it a step further---climb it. (no pun intended). 


Climb it you say? Well, it only has an elevation of 5,267 ft. No big deal.


When mountaineers decide to take the plunge and climb the "great mountain", they typically look at the map to decide the easiest way up. While Katahdin only has one peak that can be considered the summit, it has several different options when attempting to reach it. Also, because of the pristine trail conditions and array of climbing options, virtually anyone can take the plunge and climb it, which makes it a great asset for the State of Maine. Ironically, the shortest distance to the top is actually the hardest. You can reach the top in 4 miles, but in doing so, you have to climb a stretch of terrain that most suggest you bring climbing gear. While most tend to make this trek to the top in the summer, it can be climbed at almost any time of the year. And yes, that even means you can reach the summit in the winter. For those who wish the elevate their sense of adventure, the winter trek is one of the hardest climbing experiences in the northeast. With the park just making available to climb in the winter, they require a thorough search of all equipment to make sure that whoever climbs it has all the necessary items to both avoid and prepare for emergency situations while climbing the mountain.   


No matter how you reach the top, almost anyone will tell you it was well worth the trek. With vast wilderness going 360 degrees around you, most will attest that the view from the top will even evoke transcendental feelings with a clear day and a few deep breaths. It's a sense of accomplishment that it hard to match for most. And because of its elevation and trail systems, it's and "all in a days work" type of climb. While most people tend to stay a few days within the park, the actual climb to the summit is a one day endeavor. So what do you do once you reach the top? Well, unfortunately, there isn't an elevator to take you back down. It may take forever to get to the top, but it'll take even longer to get back down. But once you hit the last trail head of whatever trail you take, your ready for some rest and relaxation. Having spent the last summer working at a resort nestled right next to Baxter State Park, you could tell instantly when someone had just climbed Katahdin and was now ready for some fine dining. Before they even get a menu, a drink of choice is shouted out (choice of beverage is certainly dependent on the age of the climber, of course). After that, it's game on. And with the mountain in plain site from their table at the restaurant, nostalgia takes over and everyone, including myself, sees the sense of accomplishment in their eyes. So to whoever has a sense of adventure, it is highly encourages to make the trek to Millinocket and enjoy one of Maine's most scenic areas and spectacular chunk of granite----Katahdin. 



On a side note, for anyone who wishes to be politically correct, calling it Mount Katahdin is no longer correct in the eyes of the park because the translation of Katahdin is "great mountain", so by calling it Mount Katahdin you are in fact saying mountain great mountain. 

Our Mission

The mission of the Maine Geographic Alliance is to expand and improve geographic education from Pre-Kindergarten through University by assisting educators with high-quality geographic materials, lessons, and workshops for implementing Maine's learning results. 



Maine Geographic Alliance
Roberts Learning Center
UMF Campus
270 Main Street
Farmington, Me. 04938 

(207) 778-7443

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