When people think of Baxter State Park, the immediate associated imagery is the sharp ridgeline of Knife’s Edge, the peak of Katahdin- the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. Yet, Baxter is so much more than that. Its lush pristine wilderness meshes elegantly with the park’s many ponds and lakes that provide optimal spots for swimming, canoeing and fishing. Even more special are the many mountains and trails that surround Katahdin and live up to the aura and challenge of hiking in northern Maine. Over Labor Day weekend, I hiked a series of summits around the area, ranging in elevation. Baxter offers the perfect three-day weekend getaway for the weekend warrior. The hikes are challenging, as you can create loops and routes that are easily double digits in mileage per day over rocky boulders and on beautiful, exposed ridgelines. My hike included the summits of Barrel Ridge, Peak of the Ridges, The Traveler and North Traveler Mountain- all of which had 360 degree views. Baxter State Park is very accessible to hikers and outdoorsmen and women of all ages and abilities; I ran into young families and older couples who decided to car camp at Upper South Branch Pond Campground, yet also passed a couple other backpackers looking to bag as many peaks as they could in their short stay in the park. Early fall is definitely the best time to visit Baxter—it’s no longer black fly season and the temperature is ideal. As the foliage just begins to change color, check out my visit to Baxter State Park!