Trail Run Project Logo

Russell Pond-Mount Katahdin Loop

  5.0 ( 10 ) Favorite


20.0 mile 32.2 kilometer loop
82% Runnable


Ascent: 4,980' 1,518 m
Descent: -4,977' -1,517 m
High: 5,240' 1,597 m
Low: 1,323' 403 m


Avg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 101% (45°)


No Dogs
Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Bryan Gagner

A varied, challenging 19 mile loop around and up over Mount Katahdin.

Bryan Gagner

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildlife


Most of this trail is pretty mellow, but the climb out of the NW basin is a wet scramble and the Knife Edge is exposed and exciting. This is a long run, and you'll get up above treeline - it's not a trivial trip!

Need to Know

Weather for the top of Katahdin; click here

The parking is limited in Baxter State Park and state residents get first choice so check out the parking restrictions and rules;…

Runner Notes

There's a big stream crossing at mile 6. Also, the trail up from Davis Pond in the NW basin is very steep, mossy and wet.


I have always wanted to do this loop at Baxter state park in Maine around, up and over Katahdin. We made a day trip out of it which made for a very long day but good times were had by all.

Start out at the Roaring Brook trailhead. From there, head up to Russell Pond on the Russell Pond Trail. This is an easy section of trail that should flow along nicely. Only about a half mile in is a great view over a pond of the Mount Katahdin massif. About a third of the way along, there is a huge glacial erratic that the trail goes around. There's a stream crossing at mile 6, that could be sketchy at high water. Take a left at about 6.4 miles (10.3k) onto the Northwest Basin Trail.

The first few miles of this trail are a gradual climb that is very doable. As you get to the ponds, it gets a bit more tricky but the views open up of the most remote basin in Baxter. The boulders get bigger as do the holes between them. Part of the trail follows a steep stream on bedrock for a bit. A quick side trip to Davis pond is worth it.

Once above treeline, continue to the saddle, up to the peak, across the Knife Edge to Pamola and then down the Helon Taylor Trail. This trail is exposed at the top, bushy in the middle, and ledgy on the bottom. It ends at that Chimney Pond Trail, 0.2 miles from the ranger station.

Flora & Fauna

Moose and Bear are around!

Run this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

History & Background

Is something wrong? Let us know. Have photos to share? Help fellow runners know what's here.


Rate This Featured Run

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Run

Check In



Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 10 votes


  5.0 from 10 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Featured Run Rankings


in Maine


32 Views Last Month
6,905 Since Mar 27, 2015



Mt. Katahdin Knife Edge
Nov 7, 2019 near Millino…, ME
Talus field on Keep Ridge.  Helon Taylor Trail
Apr 2, 2015 near Millino…, ME
On the knife edge.
Mar 27, 2015 near Millino…, ME
Katahdin from Whidden pond
Mar 27, 2015 near Patten, ME
Mt. Katahdin's Knife Edge.
Apr 2, 2015 near Millino…, ME
The Northwest Basin Trail
Mar 27, 2015 near Patten, ME

Trail Run Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Running