Now that we are in the midst of winter, hiking may seem out of season, but that’s not entirely true. I recently climbed Bald Rock in Lincolnville with some friends of mine, and the experience was just as pleasant as the typical summer walk. Some people, however, take winter hiking to a more extreme extent.

A few years ago, my father climbed Mount Katahdin during the winter with a group of friends and two of them ultimately pushed for and reached the summit. I myself have also participated in some larger-scale winter climbing in Baxter State Park, scaling peaks such as Sentinel Mountain and Trout Brook Mountain in the winter.

To climb Trout Brook, my father, my brother and I drove to the north entrance of Baxter and skied to the Trout Brook cabin where we stayed for several nights. On one of our days there, my father and I set off from the campsite to the trailhead directly across the road. We were climbing with snowshoes and there was a pre-packed trail, so we figured climbing wouldn’t be too difficult.

Unfortunately, when we thought we had reached the summit, we found that the mountain still continued far higher. Worse yet, the packed trail ended and we had to form our own path through 5 feet of snow. After encountering a total of 15 false summits, we found the true peak of the mountain and descended safely.

Bob Price of Montville hiking Sentinel Mountain.    Courtesy of Kim Widmer

Though the conditions are more difficult and even sometimes dangerous, winter hiking can offer a much more surreal experience because of the relative scarcity of other climbers. When my father and his partner summited Baxter Peak on the Katahdin massif, they could only see one other group, just faintly visible in the distance.

Winter climbing certainly isn’t for everyone, at least not on larger and more treacherous mountains such as Katahdin, but the fact that the trail is less traveled is what makes it special. The best equipment for small gradual mountains is snowshoes, which are of course a vital tool in deep snow.

When the trail is icy with little snow, microspikes for your boots are more useful. If you find yourself intrigued, it’s easy to climb small peaks, such as Bald Rock, with little to no experience, but someday you may go to higher places.