Difficulty: Strenuous, but not as difficult as the nearby Mount Katahdin. The Mount Coe-South Brother Mountain loop is about 8 miles. Plan for a full day of hiking — about 7 hours.
How to get there: Travel on I-95 to Exit 244. Turn west on Route 157 and travel to Millinocket. Bear right at the three-way intersection after the second traffic light in downtown Millinocket. Bear left at the next “Y” intersection, staying on the main road. About 8 miles from Millinocket, pass Northwoods Trading Post on the right. Continue another 8 miles on the paved road to Togue Pond Gatehouse. After registering with the gatehouse, take Park Tote Road (left at the fork after the gatehouse). About 7.7 miles from the gatehouse, pass Katahdin Stream Campground. About 14.7 miles from the gatehouse, park at Slide Dam Day Use Site on the left. The trailhead sign can be seen from the small parking area.
Information: Northwest of Katahdin is The Brothers, North Brother (elevation, 4,151 feet) and South Brother (elevation, 3,970 feet) mountains. Mount Coe (elevation, 3,795 feet) lies just southwest of these mountains, and all three together form a fairly straight line of summits.
Marston Trail, which can be accessed from the Slide Dam Day Use Site, is the typical approach for hiking The Brothers. A trail junction with Mount Coe Trail is located 1.3 mile from the trailhead. This is the beginning of the South Brother-Mount Coe loop, which can be hiked clockwise or counterclockwise. Hikers can turn left and continue on the Marston Trail for 3.3 miles to the summit of South Brother; or they can turn right onto Mount Coe Trail and hike 1.9 miles to the summit of Mount Coe. Mount Coe Trail closes together the loop by spanning between the summits of Mount Coe and South Brother, a route that is about 1.3 miles long. The summit of South Brother isn’t actually on the loop, but a short side trail (0.3 mile) leads to it. Therefore, the entire loop, if you hit both summits, is just about 8 miles.
The South Brother-Mount Coe loop isn’t the only hiking option from the Slide Dam Day Use Site trailhead. North Brother Trail spurs off from the loop not far from the summit of South Brother and leads 0.9 mile to the summit of North Brother. Also connected to the loop is Mount O-J-I. About 0.5 mile from summit of Mount Coe, Mount Coe Trail meets the O-J-I Link Trail, which leads south 0.5 mile to Mount O-J-I Trail (and from there, 0.3 mile to the summit of Mount O-J-I).
Personal note: I suggest people always hike with a map, but this “1-minute hike” illustrates why a map is important. From the trailhead at the Slide Sam Day Use Site, hikers have many options — as many as four mountains can be reached from this trailhead within a day and without walking on any roads. While the signs in Baxter State Park are usually in good condition, a map will help you make good decisions based on your physical ability, time constraints and goals. As of August 2012, the Mount Coe Trail was slightly overgrown but still easy to follow; and the Marston Trail was well maintained. If you decide to hike the entire loop, I suggest you go up the Mount Coe Trail (and down the Marston Trail) because it includes a steep section of flat rock that would be much more difficult to descend.