The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument (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 recreational pursuits.
Throughout the Monument’s peopled history many artists, authors, conservationist, recreationist, scientists and visitors have been inspired by this landscape. The Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters hopes you will be just one of many to follow in their footsteps.
Katahdin Loop Road
The 16-mile Loop Road offers a great opportunity to see the southern portion of the monument and includes pull-offs with scenic views. There are several short hikes from trailheads along the Loop Road. Allow approximately 2.5 hours to drive the loop and enjoy a few stops for sightseeing and even more time if you plan to hike.
A project of the Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters, the Loop Road Interpretive Map is keyed to “stops” along the 16-mile Loop Road. The map features information about the historical, biological, and geological significance of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument’s southern landscape. Recreation opportunities such as birding, biking and hiking are also highlighted.
Access – The Loop Road is typically open to vehicle traffic beginning Memorial Day Weekend through the first weekend in November. However, visitors should check the official Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument National Park Service webpage 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.
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.
Activities through the North Entrance include canoeing and kayaking on the East Branch of the Penobscot River, as well as fishing, hiking, and mountain biking during warmer months. Cross Country Ski Trails are groomed during Winter months. Check the official Katahdin Woods and Waters National Park Service website for trail information and access.
Directions – You can access the North Entrance from either I-95 exit 264 in Sherman or exit 276 in Island Falls. Head to Patten and then turn left on Route 159/Grand Lake Road. Follow Route 159 for approximately 25 miles and take the second left turn after you cross the East Branch of the Penobscot near Grand Lake Matagamon. This leads you onto the Messer Road (also call Grand Matagamon Road). The road leads approximately 4 miles south into the northern tier of the monument where it dead-ends in a parking lot (limited space) From there follow the road on foot or on mountain bike along the picturesque East Branch of the Penobscot with views of several waterfalls on the International Appalachian Trail.