BAXTER STATE PARK, Maine — A moderate winter has allowed Baxter State Park officials to gratify fishermen and fiddlehead gatherers by opening several park roads this week, Director Jensen Bissell said Friday.
Most roads in the north end of the park and above the treelines leading to Mount Katahdin are closed because they remain very wet and soft, but unlike the spring of 2011, which saw most park roads stay closed longer, most of the park’s southern roads are firm enough for traffic, Bissell said.
Park Tote Road is open to vehicle traffic from Togue Pond Gate to approximately five miles north of Nesowadnehunk Field, near the turn to Phoenix Camps, Bissell said. Several roads off that area also are open.
The Roaring Brook Road is open from Togue Pond Gate to approximately 2.5 miles north to the Township 2 Range 9 line, as is the Park Tote Road from Matagamon Gate to Trout Brook Crossing, which includes the South Branch Pond Road, Bissell said.
“Places that are favorites to folks for fishing are open,” Bissell said Friday. “People fiddlehead in the park and those areas are open, too.”
Sportsmen already have started taking advantage of the recent access, though park workers haven’t begun counting park visitors yet because the gatehouse staff hasn’t started work for the season, Bissell said.
“People want to fish and they want to fiddlehead and they want to start hiking,” Bissell said.
All Mount Katahdin-access trailheads and the Traveler Loop Trail remain closed to hiking because of snow and ice at elevation, Bissell said. He expects those areas will open within the next week or so.
Bissell said he expects all roads to be open when the park officially opens to campers for the summer on May 15. The summer season ends on Oct. 15.
Gatherers of fiddleheads and other park flora are allowed to collect for personal use only, Bissell said. No commercial food gathering is allowed.
Baxter State Park is more than 200,000 acres of wilderness and public forest named after its founder, Gov. Percival Baxter. Its facilities are rustic, with its roads unpaved and no electricity supplied for campers, according to its newly redesigned website, baxterstateparkauthority.com.
Park visitors should check the website for up-to-date listings of road openings and other park happenings.
The park charges entrance fees of $14 per vehicle for out-of-state visitors. A seasonal pass costs $39. A full schedule of camping rates is available at the park’s website or by calling 723-5140, or 723-9905 for the hearing-impaired.