Mountaineering

For a peak vacation experience, consider climbing one of Maine’s many mountains. Yes, we have real mountains here even if they aren’t as high as the Rockies. Plus, according to those in the know, Maine is packed with places for mountaineers at all skill levels.

“It’s pretty easy to find climbing at any level here,” says Patrick Hall of the Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School, “from beginners in the summer all the way to experts.” He says the School has guided people of all ages. “If they can walk, they can learn how to climb.”

The Pine Tree State is especially blessed with locations for the adventurous rock climber to enjoy a natural high, given the general rockiness of much of its geography.

“The best place for rock climbing is definitely Acadia National Park,” says Hall. “It’s a jewel of New England.” He says climbers of all types come to the Park to go mountaineering “right over the ocean” for views that will knock your socks (or maybe your crampons) off. Other sites he recommends are in Clifton (Eagle Bluff) and Camden (Mount Battie), but adds that “there is good rock climbing all over the state.”

And then of course there is Mount Katahdin, deep in the heart of Baxter State Park’s wilderness. At more than 5,000 feet, a mile above sea level and with a timberline at 3,500 feet, Katahdin is the granddaddy of Maine climbing sites. It towers above the comparatively low surrounding lakes and forests. Glaciers were responsible for carving away enough granite to give the peak a horseshoe shape featuring five main summits: Howe, Hamlin, Baxter, South and Pamola. As the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, Katahdin provides a tough finish for AT hikers who choose to scale it via the infamous Knife’s Edge.

Called an arête (a rugged ridge produced by glaciation), the Edge narrows to only a few feet wide in some places.

“Katahdin may not be as high as other mountains,” says Hall, “but as far as difficulty and remoteness, it’s pretty remote.” He adds that despite its imposing nature, Maine’s most famous peak is “wonderful for mountaineers.”

Other sites in Maine recommended by the pros include the Otter Cliffs (featured in the move “Shutter Island”) and the South Wall of Champlain Mountain (both in Acadia National Park), Bradbury Mountain (Freeport), Shagg Crag (Bryant Pond), Bald Mountain (Dedham), Mt. Blue (Weld) and Blue Hill Mountain (Blue Hill)