(Note: As of October 23, 2020, Baxter State Park offices and headquarters remain closed to the public, but reservations can still be made online and by calling (207) 723-5140. Togue and Matagamon Gates are open 6am to 7pm. Katahdin and Traveler trails are closed at their trailheads to protect alpine resources.)
The trail up Trout Brook Mountain (1,767 ft), 3.3 miles, about 1 hr 45 mins, begins from a small day use parking lot at the Trout Brook Farm Campground at Baxter State Park. Like Horse Mountain, the best maps and descriptions I found were in the AMC Maine Mountain Guide and Falcon Guides’ Hiking Maine’s Baxter State Park. This hike also gets its own treatment in Maine Hikes Off the Beaten Path. For those planning to explore more of Baxter State Park than one place, Map Adventures’ Katahdin Baxter State Park Waterproof Trail Map is a great analog navigation tool in a place where digital devices don’t belong. Baxter’s great official website also has downloadable/printable trail maps, and the Trout Brook Farm map covers this area.
At the beginning of the trail up Trout Brook Mountain, the emerald colors of hobblebush contrast with the darker forest, particular as it transitions to evergreen. The trail winds through this forest and climbs rocky ledges dressed in soft green moss, with excellent northward views toward Trout Brook, Grand Lake Matagamon and the north woods.
Consecutive switchbacks and steps are carved into the face of the rock, each rewarding the climber with a progressively more expansive look at the river valleys, mountains, ponds, and lakes of Baxter State Park.
Past the Trout Brook summit there are a series of impromptu rocky amphitheaters with sweeping views of High Pond, Long Pond, Round Pond, and Billfish Pond. To complete the hike without retracing my steps, I took the Five Ponds Loop Trail, an easy forest path through creekbeds, mushrooms, and marshy areas, back to the trailhead. As I approached the trailhead, I was able to gather plenty of dry deadfall for my night’s campfire at Baxter’s Trout Brook Farm campground.
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