Mount Katahdin (5268 feet, 1606 meters) is the highest mountain in Maine. It is located in east central Piscataquis County about 25 miles northwest of Millinocket, at a latitude of about 46 degrees north and longitude about 69 degrees west. It divides the East and West Branches of the Penobscot River.
On the sides of Katahdin are four glacial cirques carved into the granite by alpine glaciers and in these cirques behind moraines and eskers are several picturesque ponds. Katahdin is one of the best sites to view glacial effects in the Eastern States. From the low lake country to the south and east, the mountain appears to be one of the tallest and most abrupt in the Appalachian Mountains.
Fauna include bears, deer and Moose as well as swarms of blood thirsty black fly (a sort of midge) in the spring. Among the birds are Bicknell’s Thrush and various songbirds and raptors. The mountain has its own indigenous butterfly related to an arctic type. The flora includes pines, spruces, fir, hemlock, beech, maple, birch, and aspen and diapensia.
As the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, Katahdin is a popular hiking and backpacking destination. Among the Native Americans at the time of contact, it was believed to be the home of the storm god Pamola, and thus an area to be avoided. It is referred to 60 years after Field’s climb of Agiokochuk (Mt. Washington) in the writings of John Giles (Gyles) a teenage colonial who was captured near Portland, Maine in 1689 by the Abenaki. While indentured among the Abenaki they wandered up and down the rivers including the Penobscot, so he saw the “Teddon”. He remarked that it was higher than the White Hills above the Saco.
The first recorded climb of "Catahrdin" was by Massachusetts surveyor Joseph Turner in August of 1804. In the 1840’s Henry David Thoreau climbed Ktaadn and his climb is recorded in a well known chapter of "The Maine Woods". A few years later Theodore Winthrop wrote about his visit in "Life in the Open Air". The painters Frederick Church and Marsden Hartley are well known artists who created landscapes of Katahdin.
In the 1930s governor Percival Baxter began to acquire land and finally deeded more than 200,000 acres to the State of Maine for a park. Today, Baxter State Park is open to the public from May 15 to October 15.
See also: Mount Washington