The KWWNM permanently conserves a portion of Maine’s iconic forests, safeguarding more than 30 miles of pristine rivers and streams, and protecting prime habitat for beloved and rare wildlife. The monument offers spectacular views of Katahdin, special ecological features, and extensive Maine historic and cultural resources.
The national monument is open to visitors, with opportunities for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, fishing, and hunting, among others. For the most up-to-date information and maps visit the official National Park Service webpage for Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
Officially declared a National Monument by Presidential Proclamation August 24, 2016, the 87,500-acre landscape was donated to the National Park Service and the American people by conservationist Roxanne Quimby, founder of Burt’s Bees personal care products. The monument lands, known to Native peoples for thousands of years, have supported extensive logging operations from the time of early Maine statehood on. In addition, and throughout the land’s peopled history – artists, authors, scientists, conservationists, recreationists, and others have drawn knowledge and inspiration from this landscape.
The Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters, a not-for-profit 501(c) (3) organization dedicated to supporting the monument, hopes you will be one of many to follow in their footsteps.
Directions – From I-95 Exit 244 (Medway) travel west towards Medway approximately .08 miles turning right onto Route 11 (also called Grindstone Road). Follow Route 11, also known as the Katahdin Woods and Waters Scenic Byway, for approximately 20 miles and then turn left onto the Swift Brook Road. Please use caution when making the left turn onto Swift Brook Road as there is limited sight distance; please be considerate of your speed as you pass the residential area near the junction.
From 1-95 Exit 264 (Sherman) travel west approximately .25 miles turning left on RT 11. Travel approximately 5 miles turning right on Swift Brook Road.
From either exit – travel the Swift Brook Road approximately 9.5-miles to Sandbank Stream Camping and Picnic Area.
Access – The Loop Road is typically open to vehicle traffic beginning Memorial Day Weekend through the first weekend in November. However, visitors should check https://www.nps.gov/kaww/planyourvisit/ for the latest updates as access is weather dependent. The Swift Brook and Loop Roads are gravel roads passable to passenger cars with normal clearance. Low clearance vehicles should exercise extreme caution. Be advised that this is a new national monument. Amenities are limited and signage is sparse. Cell phone reception can be spotty or non-existent. There are no services or concessions within the Monument.
Advisory – Please use extreme caution when traveling on the Swift Brook Road and the Loop Road. These gravel roads are shared with logging and equipment trucks. It is important to drive slowly, keep to the right side of the road, and yield to oncoming trucks.
A. Sandbank Nature Walk – Park before entrance gate
Early morning and evening hours best for wildlife sightings at this quiet little pond.
C. Orin Falls Hike – Mile 15
Wassataquoik Stream and Orin Falls Described by Myron Avery as “a brawling mountain torrent of the clearest water, tumbling along a bed choked with enormous pink boulders,” the Wassataquoik descends in continuous rapids from Baxter State Park to the Penobscot’s East Branch, a distance of about 14 miles. Once a scene of intense logging activity in the 19th century, it is now one of the wildest, least-developed watersheds in the northeast. The Wassataquoik Tote Rd. was built along the stream to support logging operations in the 1950s and early 60s. Orin Falls is an attractive stretch of rapids well worth a visit. Also Don Fendler (Lost on a Mountain In Maine) followed sections of the Wassataquoik down to the East Branch and his rescue at Lunksoos Camps.
5-Mile Paddle on the East Branch and Big Sebois River
Difficulty: Class 2 moving water. Best levels for running are 200 CFS Plus. | Current levels can be found at www.usgs.com | Distance: 5 miles from put in to take out | Day Trip
Always wear a PFD, come prepared for a remote paddle, bring topo maps, and watch for river obstructions.
Follow signs to Lunksoos Base Camp from the Swift Brook Road. Lunksoos Boat Launch is your take out and is on the East Branch of the Penobscot River. Potable water is available at the hand pump outside of Lunksoos Base Camp. Please sign in at the KIOSK here. After dropping one shuttle vehicle here continue another mile to the Sherman Lumber Road. Turn left and follow Sherman Lumber road yielding to any logging traffic approximately 4 miles.
Put in is at the Truck Bridge over the Sebois River just beyond Mile 14 on the Sherman Lumber Road. Cross over the river and turn left. This is an old forestry campsite and easy access away from logging road traffic.
River winds its way through shallows and “Bogans”. Approximately 3 miles downriver the Big Sebois enters the East Branch of the Penobscot River. Shortly after this you will see the Big Sebois Campsite on the right. From this campsite you can find the connector trail leading to the Werler Trail up Deasey Mountain. Continuing down the East Branch you will come to the Lunksoos Boat Launch and Take-out 2 miles.
Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
Trail grooming (begins early January) starts at the north entrance of the monument and offers outstanding opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Cross-country skiing is also permitted on un-groomed trails throughout the monument. Use caution, as snowmobiles are permitted to use some of these trails and logging trucks will be very active on several roads around the monument during winter. Be careful when skiing on hiking trails due to the often uneven and steep nature of trails, ice falls blocking the path, and trail routes obscured by snow. Please do not snowshoe or allow dogs to walk in cross-country ski tracks.
The Loop Road is typically open to vehicle traffic beginning Memorial Day Weekend through the first weekend in November. However, visitors should check https://www.nps.gov/kaww/planyourvisit/ for the latest updates as access is weather dependent.
Please be advised that there are several active winter logging operations on roads accessing monument lands, including Swift Brook Road, Grondin Road, and Sherman Lumber Road. These roads may or may not be privately plowed for timber harvests on lands near the Monument. It is recommended to avoid using these roads in winter while logging operations are active.
Snowmobile travel is allowed on approximately 22 miles and is managed by local snowmobile clubs under special use permits. Please see The Maine Snowmobile Association’s website for the latest information on routes and conditions.
Snowmobile regulations include:
All Maine state snowmobile laws are enforced in the monument. Maine registration is required. As a reminder, tracked side-by-side (ATVs) are not permitted on monument roads unless they are licensed.
Snowmobiles are not allowed on Katahdin Loop Road or generally on any monument roads and trails west of the East Branch River, except the ITS route which crosses approximately 2.5 miles of monument land west of the Whetstone Bridge crossing of the East Branch of the Penobscot River.
Snowmobiles are not permitted off of the groomed trails or on any hiking trails.
Be aware of active logging trucks on plowed road crossings. Log trucks have the right of way
Beware of anyone not on a snowmobile (skiers, snowshoers, fat tire bikers, and hikers) who may be on the groomed trail.
Turn on your white headlight and red taillight 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise, and whenever visibility is less than 500 feet (152 m).
Towing people on sleds or skis is prohibited.
It is illegal to operate snowmobiles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Drivers must be at least 14 years old to operate snowmobiles in the monument.
Anyone under 18 years old must wear approved protective headgear.
Monument trails become icy and/or snowpacked in winter. Be prepared for unfavorable conditions and early darkness.
Dogs on Leash
Dogs on leash are permitted on groomed and ungroomed trails. Please keep dogs out of ski tracks and clean up after your pet. Dogs are not permitted in huts.
Fat Tire Biking
Biking is currently permitted on all monument roads and trails. Please do not ride in the cross-country ski tracks and yield to all other trail users. Biking is strongly discouraged on snowmobile trails or access roads where active logging is underway. As with all winter activities, know your route and prepare for weather conditions.
Ice fishing is permitted within the monument lands when conditions permit. Please be cautious on frozen bodies of water and ensure that ice thickness is sufficient to support your weight. Portions of river, streams and pond shorelines may be privately owned. Please respect private property. State of Maine fishing licenses are required for Maine residents 16 years or older and non-residents 12 years or older. Fees vary based on resident/non-resident status, age, and length of license. Licenses can be purchased at many area retailers, as well as online through the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Two primitive community huts are available by reservation. The huts are only accessible by skiing, snowshoeing, biking or hiking. For the 2017 season, the huts are available to the public free of charge. Reservations and maintenance are provided by the Elliotsville Plantation, Inc. (EPI) under permit with the National Park Service.
Reservations required. Please contact Susan Adams, EPI Recreation Manager at 207.852.1291.
Haskell Hut is situated approximately 5.5 miles in via the International Appalachian Trail (IAT) from the northern terminus of Route 159. Haskell Hut has a maximum daily user limit of 8 people.
Big Spring Brook Hut is located in a more remote location is approximately a 10+ miles ski in from Rt 159 via the Maine IAT to the Orin Falls Messer Pond Road (Blue Diamond Trail). Its remote location demands a more experienced user. Big Spring Brook Hut has a maximum daily user limit of 16 people.
The huts have outhouses but no potable water. The huts offer sleeping platforms (bring your own sleeping pads and bags), basic pots and pans for cooking, propane lights, cookstove and woodstove (dependent on current fuel supplies and usage). The site is carry in/carry out, Leave No Trace. Campfires permitted with a Maine Forest Service Fire permit, in designated area outside each hut.
From December through March, a limited number of campsites and lean-tos are available for primitive camping only. Campers must register by calling 207-852-1291.
Campers must be prepared for extreme weather conditions and must be self-sufficient.
Camping is limited to the established campsites.
Carry in/carry out only. Please collect, bag, and pack out all trash, including food scraps.
Bringing in firewood is prohibited. For this year, dead and down wood for campfires may be gathered in areas adjacent to the campground.
For the most up-to-date information and maps visit the official National Park Service webpage for Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.