We began and finished from the Marston Trail parking area off Park Tote Road in Baxter State Park, about 13 miles north of the park’s south entrance. We hiked Marston Trail to the junction with Mount Coe Trail. We headed north on Marston Trail around Teardrop Pond to the junction with North Brother Trail. We followed North Brother Trail to the summit of North Brother and returned the way we came.
The hike totaled 9 miles with 3000 feet of elevation gain and took us just under 5 and a half hours to complete.
For the past three years my family has driven to Baxter State Park in early July for a long weekend of hiking and camping. Goals for the 2016 trip were for my wife to hike to the summit of Katahdin and for me to bag North Brother, my final New England 4000 Footer in Maine. I aspired to hike a lollipop route around Mount Coe Trail and Martson Trail to also hike Mount Coe and South Brother (both are New England Hundred Highest) and depending on how I felt bushwhack to Fort Mountain, another Hundred Highest. My oldest son came with me and wasn’t sure if he was up to such a big hike, so we decided to head directly to North Brother and see how we felt from there.
We camped at Nesowadnehunk Campground, the most remote in Baxter State Park, so it was a short drive to the Marston Trail parking lot in the morning. We go there at 7:45 am and had the awkward situation of finding ourselves in an empty parking lot without a hint of the acceptable parking alignment. I pulled the car parallel to the grass as parking perpendicular felt like the ass-end of my car was encroaching into the potential vehicle flow.
We dumped ourselves out of the car and into cool, drizzly weather. Across the way thick overcast clouds were munching on the crown of Doubletop Mountain.
The lower portion of the Marston Trail was flat and quick, but it then climbed moderately to the junction with the Mount Coe Trail. We turned left to hike northward to Teardrop Pond which we discovered shrouded with fog at 8:45 am.
We had a break on a large rock standing sentry pond-side. The thick fog deadened all sound and North Brother loomed in ominous gray above. After wrapping around the western side of the pond, the trail climbed steeply over boulders to the wide and mellow col between The Brothers. We took the spur trail toward North Brother which soon became a flowing stream from all the wet weather. Picking our way from rock to rock slowed us, but we eventually made enough elevation that the steam faded to a trickle.
Shortly before the summit we broke treeline to witness a scene of varying whites and grays. Occasionally the breeze would disturb the low clouds enough to reveal the nearby peak of South Brother. We climbed over granite boulders to the sign that marked North Brother at 10:30 am. It was overcast and undercast, but we could see Fort Mountain and the Katahdin mastiff.
It took me a while to interpret Mount Katahdin’s facade from direction of North Brother. In the past I had only hiked on its eastern side, so the terrain was alien to me. Eventually I realized that Hamlin was in the forefront and we were looking up the spine of the mountain that Saddle Trail followed to Baxter Peak. My son and I ate an early lunch in the intermittent rain showers and celebrated our third Maine 4000 Footer together.
We decided that we were too tired to attempt looping around South Brother and Mount Coe, so we headed back the way we came. I was all right with this since I had completed my goal: wrapping up my Maine 4000 Footers. Also, the weather wasn’t great and our feet were wet from the stream/trail. It would be better to return in fairer weather to complete the Hundred Highest peaks.
We saw one older couple on the way down, but it was otherwise quiet. Rain sucks, but at least it provided plenty of solitude, especially considering that it was Baxter State Park in July. We got back to the car at 1:10 pm and headed to our campsite where my wife and younger son awaited. She was recuperating from her successful solo hike of Baxter Peak the previous day, and he was waiting for me to take him on a father and son hike as well.
For how can one know color in perpetual green, and what good is warmth without cold to give it sweetness?
Video of North Brother hike
Music from Free Music Archive: “Browulf” by Aglow Hollow
- North and South Brother have been known as The Brothers, The Two Brothers and for a time Mount Coe was lumped with them and they were known as The Three Brothers
- The Brothers was one of the first places where fir waves were noticed, a phenomenon found only in the northeast and Japan
- North Brother is the northern most New England 4000 Footer
Date Hiked: 9 July 2016
Trail Conditions: mud, wet
Weather: overcast, drizzling
Highest Elevation: 4143′
Elevation Gain: 3000′
Distance: 9.0 miles
Book Time: 6:00
Actual Time: 5:25