The Maine section of the Appalachian Trail (AT) rolls 281 miles from the New Hampshire border up to Mount Katahdin. Along this extremely challenging section of the AT, the route passes over a series of rugged 4,000 foot mountains and then runs through gentle forest with lakes and streams. This stretch is considered the most difficult section of the entire Appalachian Trail where many backpackers average less than a mile an hour over many parts. The elevations ranges from as low as 490 feet and all the way up to 5,267 feet! There are plenty of wet, rocky and muddy descents that require using your arms to grab onto something, anything. There are many fords of mountain streams, with the most treacherous being the Kennebec River, which can be very high at times.
The western section of the AT in Maine is the toughest with its steep 4,000 foot peaks. This section is typically from the New Hampshire border heading east to Bigelow Preserve. It is capped by the infamous Mahoosuc Notch which requires boulder scrambling for over a mile!
The central section of the AT in Maine from Bigelow Preserve to Monson has some of the easiest hiking in Maine, but has the potentially life-threatening crossing of the Kennebec River (look for the free canoe ferry service if running).
The final eastern section of the AT, known by thru-hikers as the Hundred Miles, from Monson to Katahdin runs over disconnected mountains and through forest with ponds and creeks. The mountain summits may be lower than others along the AT, but they have rugged ascents.
The best time of year to experience this section of the Appalachian Trail is from July through mid-September. Lower elevations could be enjoyed from May through June, but snow patches may be present, the trails may be muddy and, of course, in June the black flies are unbearable. By mid-September, the snow can be flying on the summits.
The Appalachian Trail, commonly known by backpackers as the AT, is a popular 2,167 mile thru-hike along a wilderness footpath. The Appalachian Trail is a registered National Scenic Trail that winds along the crest of the Appalachian Mountains from Georgia in the south to Maine in the north. More specifically, the AT runs through the scenic wooded and pastoral lands of fourteen eastern US states, stretching from Springer Mountain, Georgia, in the south to Mount Katahdin, Maine, in the north. The Appalachian Trail route is more than 99 percent protected by either federal ownership, state ownership or designated rights-of-way from local land owners.