(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.)
Having completed two strenuous hiking days in the northern part of Baxter State Park, I wanted to explore an easier path on my long, scenic way out through the Togue Pond Gate. Celia and Jackson Ponds, reached in that order, are accessed from the Kidney Pond campground day-use trailhead via a 3.2 mile (1.5 to 2 hours) out-and-back hike using the Sentinel Connector Trail, and Celia and Jackson Ponds Trail. I found this hike using Falcon Guides’ Hiking Maine’s Baxter State Park.
The pleasant smell of woodsmoke from the campground quickly gave way to that of pine, and the path has a definite enchanted woods feel, with soft, greenish light cast on the moss surrounding the trail. Shortly after the trail’s beginning, a large boulder on the left is whimsically marked “Kidney Stone – do not remove.” Kidney Pond can be seen through the trees, and then a small side trail to the shore provides excellent views of Katahdin to the west.
Turn right at the well-marked trail intersection towards Celia and Jackson Ponds on a piney path with mossy hummocks on each side. A giant, incongruous wedge-shaped boulder is visible shortly along on the right, like an alien spacecraft that crashed to earth. Fresh moose poop (again) littered the trail, but never materialized into a moose sighting.
By about 1.1 miles, a gradual uphill climb has led through a thickening pine forest to the edge of Celia Pond. Fly fishing is allowed here, and there also canoes to rent. I met a fly fisherman headed the other way, his fishing day done. The pond itself was utterly quiet except for the sounds of birds, dragonflies, and a light wind through the trees. Continue straight at the junction with Little Beaver Pond Trail.
You will start to see Jackson Pond through the trees to your right, as well as the BSP rental canoes. On the return trip, I saw a ruff-necked grouse, which escaped swiftly into the thick forest. The pleasant mid-day light covered the trail as I retraced my steps to the parking area. This easy hike was the perfect way to recover from a difficult hike the day prior, with wildlife viewing opportunities, and incredible views of the surrounding mountains.
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