When Benton MacKaye proposed the Appalachian Trail in 1921, he envisioned a long trail extending from Georgia north to New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington. Were it not for the dogged determination of trail pioneers like Arthur Comey, Arthur Perkins, and Maine’s own Myron Avery, that’s where it might have ended. Instead the trail was pushed on through the wilds of the Maine woods. And on Aug. 14, 1937, the final two miles of the 2,000-mile AT were opened by a Civilian Conservation Corps crew on the remote ridge between Spaulding and Sugarloaf mountains in western Maine. The AT was complete, and its northern terminus was Katahdin!

You are invited to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the AT with the good folks of the Maine Appalachian Trail Club on Aug. 18 in Carrabassett Valley. Two fun group hikes are planned to the historic plaque marking the spot of completion: an 8-miler with a bus shuttle to the start, and a 4-miler that includes a ride on the Sugarloaf SuperQuad chairlift. Or just ride the lift for scenic views of the Crockers, Sugarloaf and the Bigelows. An evening ceremony follows, then a barbecue party at The Rack on the Sugarloaf access road. Advance registration for the hike and barbecue is recommended. Go to www.matc.org for details.

Of course, you can celebrate the AT in Maine by going for a hike anytime. And I recommend making a weekend out of it whenever possible, and camping trailside. In that spirit, here are a handful of suggestions for overnight backpack trips. You can hike these sections in either direction. Each hike will require a car spot.

Route 26 to East B Hill Road: This rugged 11-mile section features fine above-treeline hiking over the East and West peaks of Baldpate Mountain. The Baldpate and Frye Notch lean-to sites provide for camping en route. Side trails lead to the airy vantage point atop Table Rock overlooking Grafton Notch, and to the spectacular gorge and falls on the West Branch of the Ellis River in Dunn Notch.

Route 17 to Route 4: The hiking is easy and the loons and moose numerous on this 13-mile woodsy ramble that visits South, Little Swift River, Sabbathday and Long ponds. The campsite at the Sabbathday Pond lean-to is one of the prettiest spots along the AT in Maine, and the nearby sandy beach at Long Pond is a perfect swimming spot. There’s a nice tent site and spring at Little Swift River Pond as well.

Long Falls Dam Road to Pleasant Ridge Road: Follow a portion of Benedict Arnold’s expedition route on this 14-mile jaunt through the historic Carry Ponds area. It’s easy walking despite climbs over Roundtop Mountain and Bates Ridge. Hike the narrow and sinuous trail to Arnold Point on West Carry Pond, and pause for a swim at the tiny sand beach on East Carry Pond. Drink in the wilderness vistas from the lean-to at Pierce Pond. There’s another comfy shelter at West Carry Pond.

Monson to Little Wilson Falls: Pass by Doughty, Spectacle, Bell, Lily and North ponds on this scenic 11-mile hike. Spend some time (and some cash) in the village of Monson, the newest designated Appalachian Trail Community, and one of 21 such towns along the entire AT. Enjoy the misty views at Little Wilson Falls, which plunges 57 feet into the slate canyon below. Midway, the Leeman Brook lean-to is a good spot to spend the night.

White Cap Range: Traverse four high peaks — Gulf Hagas Mountain, West Peak, Hay Mountain and the signature 3,654-foot White Cap Mountain — on this roughly 12-mile loop hike from the Hay Brook trailhead. Meander through the pines in The Hermitage and take the side trail into Gulf Hagas, the “Grand Canyon of Maine.” Camp out at the Carl Newhall lean-to or Sidney Tappan campsite. Enjoy Katahdin views from Whitecap’s alpine summit.

Carey Kish of Bowdoin hiked the AT from Georgia to Maine in 1977. Follow his hiking adventures at www.facebook.com/careykish

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