Maine’s 100 Mile Wilderness is well-known among Appalachian Trail thru-hikers This iconic section is considered to be one of the most difficult portions of the entire AT; not because of how tough the hiking is, but because it’s incredibly remote.
Throughout the Appalachian Trail, there are tons of major road crossings where you can easily access a nearby town. Maine’s 100 Mile Wilderness is the only exception.
The AT crosses no major roads during this entire 100-mile stretch; so once you enter the wilderness, there are no easy bail-out options. The Maine Appalachian Trail Conference makes this well known; placing warning signs at both the northern and southern ends of this trail section.
For NOBO (northbound) AT thru-hikers, the 100 Mile Wilderness marks the end of their journey. As a NOBO thru-hiker myself, I considered the 100 Mile Wilderness a “victory lap” of sorts; I was a mere 100 miles away from reaching the northern terminus, and I wanted to soak in this last portion of trail as much as possible.
On this section, I crossed paths with plenty of SOBO (southbound) thru-hikers, who all congratulated me on finishing my thru-hike; while I wished them luck on their journeys ahead.
Maine’s 100 Mile Wilderness was undoubtedly one of my favorite sections of the entire AT, and you certainly don’t have to be a thru-hiker to enjoy this beautiful stretch of wilderness. I met a lot of hikers along the way who were hiking the 100 Mile Wilderness as a multi-day backpacking trip.
Hikers can expect two different types of terrain in this wilderness. The southern 50-ish miles is much more difficult, featuring a lot of elevation gain and loss, as the AT traverses both the Chairback Mountains and the Whitecap Mountains. The northern 50-ish miles is much more gentle; the trail remains mostly flat and reaches the shores of several large ponds and lakes along the way.
Does the prospect of carrying 100 miles worth of food sound intimidating? It surely can be! But fear not. Shaw’s Hiker Hostel, located at the southern entrance of the wilderness, offers food drops via a few remote logging roads that criss-cross the trail.
Those who choose to trek through the 100 Mile Wilderness will enjoy a plethora of ponds and lakes, captivating pine and spruce forests, plenty of mountain vistas, and several large stream crossings.
There are a lot of of camping options throughout the wilderness — from lean-tos and designated tenting sites to an abundance of unofficial tenting spots right off trail.
Posted below is a collage of photos I took throughout my time in the 100 Mile Wilderness. I am sharing these photos in an attempt to show just how special this portion of trail is. Of course, photos typically don’t do nature justice, so you will just have to get out there and hike to really experience the beauty of this section.