Summer Trip to Baxter State Park - Russell Pond

@MaineSkiFamily did a August 2012 journey together to Baxter State Park with a camping trip to Russell Pond. Russell Pond is a remote campground in the middle of Baxter that requires an 8 mile backpack in and out so you need to carry everything on your back!

Whidden Pond and Russell Pond photo's courtesy of my son Alec of Alec Salisbury Photo and Video.

The Pile of Gear & Food
We started off gathering and packing all of our stuff into our four backpacks. This is the third consecutive summer we had done this so we are starting to get the hang of it. The first year my pack was 62 lbs which is WAY too much. I could barely get my pack on! This year I was 54 lbs going in which is still heavy, but much more manageable. The boyz and Juley are in the 20 lbs to 30 lbs range so collectively we carry a lot of stuff! One thing to note is that we set up camp for four days at Russell and we are not carrying full packs every day so we can 'gear up' a little bit.

Juley at Whidden Ponds
The hike starts off from the Roaring Brook campground on the Russell Pond trail. We hiked in clear skies and comfortable temperatures. After some gentle hills and a couple of small rock-hopping stream crossings we came to our first rest stop 1.3 miles in at Whidden Ponds. Whidden is a beautiful spot with great views into the Kathadin Basin and North Basin.

From Whidden it is a 2 mile hike up an over a gentle ridge down to the trail junction with the Wassataqouik Stream trail. At this point we could either stay on the Russell Pond trail that goes up and over the side of Russell Mountain or veer right on the Wassataqouik Stream trail which is much flatter, but adds a half-mile to the hike and on its own has some tough muddy / rocky sections. With full packs on, we always choose flat over hills so the Wassataqouik Stream trail is the route we choose. It is a 2.5 mile slog and is the longest and hardest section of the trip.

@Alec_Salisbury Crossing the Stream

We then reached the crossing of Wassataqouik Stream which requires a wade of the river. Most of the time this is a piece of cake but during high water periods, the park sometimes has to close this trail because the stream crossing is too dangerous. However at this time of year it is typically not much more than knee high. It does require us to take off our boots and use crocs or sandals but at this point in the hike it feels pretty refreshing to have your feet in the cool mountain water. After drying off our feet and getting our boots back on it is only 1.7 miles to go!

The last section of the hike is very flat for the first 1.3 miles as the trail follows the valley floor next to Turner brook. Then over a small 'ankleknocker' bridge (logs sawed in half placed over a stream or muddy section of the trail) its up an over what is known as "Blisterbuster Hill" and we arrive at Russell Pond! It is a great sight to see after a long hike.

Russell Pond in the Evening
Russell Pond has a variety of tent sites and lean-to's but we go for the upgrade and rent all the bunks in the 8 person bunkhouse. The bunkhouse is great. It has two four person bunk rooms, a kitchen / common area (with a woodstove for cold weather use) and a porch. It is nestled in the woods so you don't get water views, but the hard roof over your head and the ability to open and close doors / windows makes it very much worth it. At $88 a night you really can't go wrong.

Wassataqouik Lake

As far as activities go, there are lots of side hikes to some very interesting places. This year we made a trip to Wassataqouik Lake and Green Falls. The lake is situated in a valley with sheer cliffs rising on both sides. The water is crystal clear and has this blue/green hue to it. It is visually very stunning.

Green Falls

Green falls is about a 25 foot waterfall over moss covered boulders. The water is ICE cold and refreshing. It is about a 3 mile hike to Green Falls but you can use a day-use canoe on Wassataqouik Lake over the last .5 miles. We tacked on another 6 miles hiking this day. Although we did not have full packs on, we were pretty pooped and took a nap from 4:30 to 6:30 back in the bunkhouse!

Native Brookies

One of the main reasons the boyz and I come to the Russell Pond area is to fish for native brook trout. The area holds some great trout ponds. I am going to keep my specific favorite fishing areas to myself but it would not be too hard to figure out if you looked at a map. We did pretty well fishing this year and we were able to have our traditional trout meal. I have been coming to Russell with my father since the early 1980's and it is great to now share this treasure with my wife and sons.

After 4 days and 3 nights it was time to pack up and head out. The hike in took 5 hours but the hike out only took 4 hours 13 minutes. Shorter breaks and lighter packs! It was great to be able to unplug for a few days and spend some time together in God's wilderness.
@MaineSkiFamily getting ready to hike out. Great trip!

Here are some other great pictures that Alec took:

Watching the Stars on the Russell Pond Dock

@ISalisbury and Dad Heading Out to Fish on a Quiet Morning

An HDR Image of the Katahdin Basin from Whidden Pond


  1. What a wonderful sounding family trip. I am glad that you had such a fun time. I love the pictures Alec. Aunt Jean

Hi - thanks for taking the time to comment. Please keep the comments on-point and lets be nice to each other!


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A Family Skiing in Maine: Summer Trip to Baxter State Park - Russell Pond
Summer Trip to Baxter State Park - Russell Pond
A Family Skiing in Maine
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