Traveler’s Loop– a 10.5 mile trip over Peak of the Ridges, The Traveler and North Traveler
Distance: 10.5 miles total. The loop can be done in either direction.
Location: Baxter State Park starting at South Branch Pond Campground
Parking: Get a tentsite at the campground and park there or use the day parking area just north of the campground making a slightly longer hike
Use: Hiking. Would be a tough snowshoe trip, but it could be done, just expect to return in the dark.
Wildlife: Many signs of bear but didn’t see any. One of our group did see a moose and calf wading in South Branch Pond.
Wilderness Experience: It’s Baxter State Park so expect some competition for parking and many people on the trails, especially during peak season. If you don’t like crowded campgrounds, probably South Branch is not for you. There are other locations to camp at, but this one gives you the best access to the trailhead. Once on the trail you will most likely encounter other people, but the trail itself has a feel of remoteness. Views from any outlook will not show signs of civilization which makes it all the better.
Trail: (We did the loop counterclockwise) Wooded trail leads around the ponds and begins to climb up to Peak of the Ridges. Once you start to break treeline it will get rockier and steeper. Some minor rock climbing will be required. Once you get above treeline expect to be in the open for a vast majority of the day. The ridge walk from POTR to Traveler is a bit of a cliff walk with fairly narrow ledge and talus fields. From Traveler to North Traveler you will drop into tree cover for awhile, but return to open ridge all the way until you are halfway down the final descent. This descent is covered in very loose rock and dirt. Take your time! If you go in late summer take full advantage of the copious amount of blueberries and bring plenty of water. The only source we found was 3/4 of the way around the loop and was very shallow.
Summit: All three summits have excellent 360 views and the trail itself is almost entirely above treeline. you can see Katahdin, North Brother, Upper and Lower South Branch Ponds and Mattagammon Lake. The views are endless!