The Katahdin region sees a lot of foot traffic in the summer and fall (specifically, hiking boot traffic). But the knobby tires of your mountain bike can now find a home on trails here, too.
Katahdin Area Trails
Experienced riders and brand new mountain bikers can enjoy Katahdin Area Trails (KAT), a new trail system on Hammond Ridge, just outside Baxter State Park and a stone’s throw from Millinocket Lake. The KAT features six miles of single track, with plans to add upwards of 50 miles in and around Millinocket in the coming years. The five-mile KAT Loop is a scenic and beginner-friendly ride that leaves from the trailhead at the New England Outdoor Center (NEOC). The loop boasts just the right amount of turns and hills to make novice riders feel like they’re really getting after it, while still remaining an inviting and family-friendly cruise through the woods. (Read: not a lot of roots, rocks, and other technical features, but still a lot of fun.)
For experienced riders who dig those technical features, there is currently one mile of more challenging terrain, with more expected in the future as trail building continues. Among the plans is a gravity park, with long uphills and speedy downhills with berms and jumps.
Trail access is free, and you can rent a fat bike from NEOC. Rates are $15/hour, $40 for a half-day, and $60 for a full day. In season, NEOC hosts weekly rides to help visitors and locals get to know the trails. Called “Fat Tire Tuesday,” the guided rides cost just $10 and include a rental bike and helmet.
The existing KAT Loop ends right back where it started at NEOC where, conveniently, the River Driver’s Restaurant is located. Post-ride Katahdin nachos or blackened haddock tacos – and a cold local beer – really hit the spot.
NEOC makes for a sweet base camp for all kinds of outdoor adventures. The year-round cabins and lodges accommodate groups big and small and are tucked into the trees along Millinocket Lake. Wake up to sunshine spilling through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Head out for an early morning paddle on Millinocket Lake. NEOC has kayaks and canoes available to guests. Or head out hiking, cross-country skiing, or snowmobiling – wherever your adventurous spirit is led. Then come back for a warm dinner, kicking back by the bonfire, and a welcome sleep in a comfy cabin in the woods.
The New England Outdoor Center is located at 30 Twin Pines Road, Millinocket. For more information on Katahdin Area Trails, go to www.neoc.com/bike or call NEOC at 800-766-7238.
Don’t have a mountain bike? Don’t fret! Check out the Katahdin Gear Library at the Millinocket Memorial Library for outdoor gear rentals, including mountain bikes, canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, skis, and snowshoes.
The library is currently located at 57 Penobscot Ave, Millinocket, ME 04462 (the former Pelletier Loggers Family Restaurant). For more info, go to: www.millinocketmemoriallibrary.org/kgl/.
Story by Shannon Bryan, the founder of fitmaine.com, a website dedicated to the coolest ways to be active in Maine – from challenging hikes and scenic paddles to trapeze classes and alpaca yoga. She loves all of it.
Photos by Shannon Bryan and Melanie Brooks