Winter Activities

Visitors cross country ski on a snow covered trail.
Winter visitors enjoy experiencing the monument on skis and snowshoes.

Courtesy of Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters, Sam Deeran

Visitors can experience a landscape of rugged beauty and solitude during the wintertime at Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Winter conditions arrive as early as October and stay until at least April, and sometimes into May.

Come prepared if you visit during the winter. Expect snow, ice, and other winter conditions. Check the Current Conditions Page for seasonal updates and status of park roads and closures. Visitors can only access part of the New River Road by vehicle, up to the North Gate parking area (46.12532,-68.80156). Be advised that the loop road is closed for the winter. Additional gates may close as well depending on conditions. Check Current Conditions before your travels.

Looking to get outside in the winter? Enter the monument from the north entrance where visitors can find groomed trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Winter hiking, camping, and fat tire biking are also accessible from the north entrance. Hiking with additional winter traction (microspikes, ice cleats, trail crampons) on waterproof hiking boots is recommended for icy conditions. Visiting other parts of the monument during the winter can be challenging. Roads within the monument are not plowed for wheeled vehicles and snowmobile trails and logging operations may be active in or around those areas.

Winter Safety

  1. Check the local weather beforehand to plan your trip. Winter temperatures can dip below 0°F/-17°C.

  2. Pay attention to sunrise and sunset times. The sun sets early in the winter!

  3. Always let someone know where you're going and when you're returning. Do not rely on your cell phone for emergency communications. Have an emergency plan in case.
  4. Remember to carry extra clothing, water, and a snack. There is no potable water within the monument.
    • Carry something to melt snow or gather water from streams (purify all stream water). When melting snow add a little water in the pot to prevent scorching or burning the pot.
  5. Bring a first aid kit and a park map. (Batteries typically lose their charge faster in cold temperatures).
  6. Wear layers! Add and remove layers as needed to prevent overheating or chilling. Wear a hat, gloves, sun protection, and sunglasses.
  7. Know your own abilities and do not ski or snowshoe so far that you become exhausted.
  8. Always pay attention to the road and trails!

    • Ice stays longer in shadowy places, even after a warmer winter day. Be on the lookout for snow-packed and icy conditions.

    • Wildlife can often enter the roadway without notice.

  9. If you’re hiking, consider that trails and rocks are typically snowy, icy, and/or muddy throughout winter – a major slipping hazard. Stay at least six feet away from edges.

For more safety information, visit the Winter Safety page.

Winter Trail Etiquette

  • Do not snowshoe or walk directly on ski tracks.
  • Snowshoe parallel to the ski tracks.
  • Step out of the track for a break.
  • Skiers/snowshoers going uphill yield to those going downhill.
  • Fill in depressions in the snow after falling to reduce hazards to others.
  • If you find the trail too difficult, turn back. Please do not take your skis off to walk up or down hills as the holes you will leave are very dangerous for other skiers. If you decide to continue, turn sideways, dig ski edges into the slope and sidestep either up or down the hill.
  • When skiing on the road, yield to vehicles. Ski single-file, facing traffic to avoid accidents.

More Information

Last updated: December 18, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 446
Patten, ME 04765


Staff are generally available to answer the phone between 8 am and 4:30 pm Monday-Friday. If you reach the voicemail, please leave a message and someone will return your call as soon as possible. Messages are checked in the morning on weekends and intermittently throughout the day when staff are available.

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