100 Mile Wilderness

100 Mile Wilderness

Monson, Maine

Some of my guests are new to hiking and many have never been to Maine. Hiking Maine’s 100 Mile Wilderness will be one of those experiences that last a lifetime . The information presented on this website will help you to be prepared and understand some of the challenges and difficulties that can present themselves along the way. Whether you are planning a thru-hike of the entire Appalachian Trail, section hiking or day hike through Maine’s 100 Mile Wilderness, the risks and threats to your personal safety are real. Hardships, pain and discomfort are magnified for the unprepared. The cold, the rain and the gale force winds are real. So are the hordes of biting insects, the tropic heat and humidity during the summer months and the rugged, difficult terrain you must traverse. This is Maine. A land of extremes; pleasing to the eye, yet punishing to the body. The 100 Mile Wilderness will test all that you have. Your equipment, your body, your will and your determination. Get hurt and you’ll be hurting for a long time. The forests of Maine have claimed more than their fare share of lives. Dangerous river fords, lightening strikes, hypothermia and falls cause the most serious risks to your well being and all present themselves at some point during your hike. Learn how to prepare for the worst and prepare for the worst by learning some of the basics before you embark on your epic journey. You will be able to deal with the issues you encounter along the way with the right attitude, the proper equipment and simple survival skills…..Phil Pepin, Registered Maine Guide

What is the 100 Mile Wilderness?

The 100 Mile Wilderness is the northernmost section of the 2186 mile long Appalachian Trail extending from Monson to Abol Bridge near Baxter State Park. The 100 Mile Wilderness is considered by many to be the most remote and inaccessible section of the entire Appalachian Trail. While the 100 Mile Wilderness is not a “true” wilderness; the character of the land, the rugged terrain, the pristine lakes, ponds and the far reaching, unspoiled views encompass feelings of being isolated from the hustle and bustle of the civilized world. What the 100 Mile Wilderness is, in fact, is a narrow Trail corridor, roughly 1000 feet wide, which passes through a working forest. Bordered on both sides of the Trail by large, private landowners and State lands, the 100 Mile Wilderness is part of the National Park system and maintained by Volunteers of the Maine Appalachian Trail Club.

The Trail Through Maine’s 100 Mile Wilderness

The Appalachian Trail begins at Baxter Peak, the summit of Katahdin in Baxter State Park. Though not part of the 100 Mile Wilderness, this is the beginning (or end) of an epic journey and many will choose to scale the precipitous heights. Leaving the summit and gently descending along the barren and rock strewn Tableland, the Trail plummets off the edge, steeply descending along the Hunt Spur to the Katahdin Stream campground. From there, the Trail follows a much gentler path past Daicey Pond and along Nesowadnehunk Stream to Abol bridge. Here, the last chance for limited supplies, the Trail enters the 100 Mile Wilderness and soon comes to the Hurd Brook lean-to. Climbing to the open rock of Rainbow Ledges, a look back reveals an impressive and inspiring view of Katahdin. As you make your way past the rocky shores of Rainbow Lake to Rainbow Stream, the cries of the loon and splashing shoreline begin to remind you that this is truly Maine and the reason you came. At Rainbow Stream lean-to, you pause to listen to the cascading waters, then travel onward past Crescent pond and the short, steep climb up Nesuntabunt Mountain where the view of Katahdin, once again, causes you to stop and admire it’s rugged beauty. Nahmakanta Lake below calls you to move on and explore its sandy beaches and uninhabited shoreline. You pause briefly at Wadleigh Stream lean-to. Yes! This is truly Maine and you are moved to emotions that your dream hike is finally under way. Following the boulder strewn waters of Nahmakanta stream, you arrive at Potaywadjo Spring lean-to and drink from the cold, sweet waters; arguably, the best spring on the entire Appalachian Trail. As you move on, you arrive at the historic site of the former Antlers camps on the edge of Jo-Mary lake. How can you resist not camping here and swimming in it’s clear waters all the while gathering fresh water mussels as part of your evening meal? Tomorrow is a short hike; an easy day where you will resupply and pick up your food package delivered to you by 100 Mile Wilderness Adventures and Outfitters. Resupplied, you journey on, following closely the rushing waters of Cooper Brook, soon arriving at the lean-to and the enormous pool and waterfalls immediately in front of the shelter. Following the ancient Cooper Brook tote road, you arrive at Crawford pond and soon ascend Little Boardman Mountain. Past Mountain View Pond, you descend to the East Branch of the Pleasant River; your first real river ford. Crossing the moving waters, you rest at the East Branch lean-to and continue on through a rich moss covered spruce and fir forest, soon climbing to Logan Brook lean-to and then steeply ascending the finely crafted stone staircase to the open summit of Whitecap. This is your final view of Katahdin; still impressive in it’s enormity. Hard to believe you climbed it a little less than a week ago! Along the ridge-line, you climb, in succession, Hay Mt., West Peak and Gulf Hagas Mountain, passing the Sydney Tappen campsite along the way; a place renowned for it’s frequent moose visitations. Descending steeply off the ridge, you pass the Carl Newhall lean-to on your right and follow Gulf Hagas brook and it’s thundering waters and frequent deep water pools. Decision time….the Gulf Hagas side trail beckons you and since you have the time and extra food, you choose to explore what many refer to as “the Grand Canyon of the East”. Gulf Hagas canyon; it’s many waterfalls and emerald pools is a popular day hike and you soon see why. You never imagined anything being so beautiful and so wild. Since there is no camping in the area, you move on and soon ford the West Branch of the Pleasant River, then climb steeply up Chairback Mountain pausing on the open ledges to catch your breath and admire the view back to the Whitecap range. Arriving at Chairback Gap lean-to, you wonder what it must have taken to build this shelter atop this rocky precipice. Thanks to the M.A.T.C. Volunteers, your trip has been more than you could ever have imagined. The Barren-Chairback range tests your resolve. The short, steep climbs have you grabbing at trail-side trees, roots, rocks and anything within grip to get you up and over the smooth, slick open ledge. The bone-jarring descents tell you that you underestimated the difficulty of this minor range. Finally.a much needed break at Long Pond Stream lean-to before fording the dangerous waters. Once across, you soon arrive at Wilson Valley lean-to and then another ford at Little Wilson falls. From there the Trail turns gentle and you walk along narrow ridges of Monson slate past scenic ponds and soon arrive at Leeman Brook lean-to; the last shelter before Rt 15. Monson is 4 miles to the left along the busy highway, but you decide to continue on the 3.3 miles to the Historic Appalachian Trail crossing where a short walk brings you to 100 mile Wilderness Adventures and Outfitters in Monson and the end of your 100 mile Wilderness hike.  A hot shower, a warm bed and a chance to relax and enjoy the glow of the fire. The 100 Mile Wilderness. It was better than you imagined and a place you will not soon forget.


100 Mile Wilderness Adventures and Outfitters

Phil Pepin-Registered Maine Guide
PO Box 47, 349 Pleasant Street
Monson, Maine 04464
Phone: 207-991-7030