Immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of Baxter State Park, a hiker’s paradise nestled in the heart of Maine. This vast wilderness area, spanning over 200,000 acres, is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, majestic mountains, serene ponds, and a network of trails that cater to all levels of hiking enthusiasts. One such trail, the Five Ponds Loop, offers a unique opportunity to explore the park’s serene beauty. This 10-mile loop, with its moderate difficulty level, is a favorite among hikers for its picturesque views, peaceful solitude, and the chance to spot wildlife in their natural habitat.

Getting to Baxter State Park

Located in north-central Maine, Baxter State Park is approximately a four-hour drive from Portland. The park’s remote location adds to its charm, offering a true wilderness experience away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The nearest town to the park is Millinocket, about 17 miles to the south. From Millinocket, take the Baxter State Park Road north to the Togue Pond Gatehouse, the main entrance to the park.

Exploring the Five Ponds Loop

The Five Ponds Loop is a moderately challenging trail that takes you through a diverse landscape of dense forests, open meadows, and along the shores of five picturesque ponds. The trailhead is located at the Nesowadnehunk Field Campground, and the loop can be hiked in either direction.

Starting the Hike

From the campground, the trail heads north, following the Nesowadnehunk Stream before veering west towards the first of the five ponds, Lily Pad Pond. This section of the trail is relatively flat and easy, making it a perfect warm-up for the rest of the hike.

Lily Pad Pond to Little Fowler Pond

After leaving Lily Pad Pond, the trail gradually ascends through a dense forest of spruce and fir trees. The trail then descends to the shore of Little Fowler Pond, the second pond on the loop. This is a great spot to take a break, enjoy a picnic, and soak in the serene beauty of the surroundings.

Little Fowler Pond to Big Fowler Pond

The trail continues west from Little Fowler Pond, crossing a small stream before reaching Big Fowler Pond. This section of the trail offers stunning views of the pond and the surrounding mountains, making it a favorite among photographers.

Big Fowler Pond to Middle Fowler Pond

From Big Fowler Pond, the trail heads south towards Middle Fowler Pond. This section of the trail is slightly more challenging, with a few steep sections and rocky terrain. However, the effort is well worth it for the stunning views of Middle Fowler Pond and the chance to spot wildlife such as moose and deer.

Middle Fowler Pond to Lower South Branch Pond

The final stretch of the trail takes you from Middle Fowler Pond to Lower South Branch Pond. This section of the trail is relatively flat and easy, providing a peaceful end to the hike. From here, it’s a short walk back to the campground.

What to Bring

When hiking the Five Ponds Loop, it’s important to be prepared. Here are some essentials to bring along:

  • Plenty of water and snacks
  • A map and compass
  • Weather-appropriate clothing
  • A first-aid kit
  • Bug spray and sunscreen


The Five Ponds Loop in Baxter State Park offers a unique opportunity to explore the tranquil beauty of Maine’s wilderness. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner looking for a challenge, this trail is sure to provide an unforgettable experience. So lace up your hiking boots, pack your essentials, and set off on an adventure through the serene landscapes of Baxter State Park.

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