Hiking in Acadia
The intensely scenic, and often surprisingly rugged day hikes through the coastal mountains of Acadia can put even the most seasoned hiker to the test. There are lung-busting, thigh-burning hikes like the Gorge Path, Precipice and the Cadillac West Face Trail with enough scrambling and exposure to keep thrill seekers happy, and there are gentler, rambling woodland paths like Hunter's Beach and the Shore Path that reward us with views every bit as dramatic, but with much less physical effort. The best day hikes in Acadia will showcase the awe-inspring vistas of the forested hills, glacial ponds, rocky cliffs and jagged coastline of Mount Desert Island. Matt and Kristi (and the kids, despite their occasional protests) are avid hikers in Acadia, and are more than happy to assist you by recommending an assortment of suitable trails to keep you on or off the beaten path.
For hikers seeking a walk over an ocean-side mountain, Acadia Mountain provides a moderately difficult climb with panoramic views of Somes Sound and the Cranberry Islands. At 681 feet, it's not one of the highest summits on Mount Desert Island, but the views are some of the best.
Aunt Betty's Carriage Rd.
Constructed by John D Rockefeller Jr. between 1913 and 1940, the 45 miles of interconnected Carriage Roads throughout Acadia reveal sweeping vistas and close-up views of the well preserved landscape. They offer gentle walks(not flat!) and the best biking on the island.
Right in your own back yard! An easy walk from the Saltair Inn to the summit, Bar Island is accessible via the sand bar for about 4 hours each day, 2 hours before and 2 hours after low tide. Enjoy beautiful views of the harbor and the village from the rock outcropping at the summit. Be sure to check the tide chart in the foyer.
Bass Harbor Head Light
Follow the trail at the end of the parking area into the woods and down the deck stairs to one of the most beautiful views on the island. For a real Maine experience, visit the lighthouse at sunset and combine it with dinner at nearby Thurston's Lobster Pound in Bernard.
This moderately strenuous hike leads over Huguenot Head and up the west face of Champlain Mountain to some of the most inspiring views on the island. Take the Bear Brook Trail and Park Loop Road back to the parking lot for a little variety and a more gentle descent.
Beech Cliff Trail
One of Acadia's five ladder hikes, this strenuous climb from Echo Lake (a good place for swimming) ascends to the top of Beech Cliff. Enjoy spectacular views of the fall foliage. This trail may be closed from spring to late summer for the protection of nesting peregrine falcons.
A peaceful hike through the forest along the Valley Trail, Beech Mountain rises 589 feet to a fire tower at its summit, last used in 1976. The tower is now closed to the public, except for special weekends in the fall when the foliage is at its best.
Beehive is one of Acadia's five ladder hikes that require ascending steep sections of granite with the aid of iron climbing rungs drilled into the ledge. Don't go down the way you came up. Return to the trailhead via the Bowl, a sparkling glacial pond on the back side of the mountain.
Cadillac Mt. West Face
The most difficult route to the top of the island's highest peak, the West Face of Cadillac Mountain is a great way to burn off the calories you consumed during breakfast. You'll enjoy beautiful views of Bubble Pond during your ascent of approximately 1,000 feet over the first 1/2 mile of this trail.
Compass Point Harbor
A short and casual stroll through the woods, this trail leads to a secluded cove of smooth, round granite cobbles. Bring a picnic lunch, as there are many places to relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of crashing waves.
This moderate hike takes you on a variety of Acadia's carriage roads, lakeside planks, a bit of bolder-hopping, and some steep climbing to reach it's 588 foot summit. Conners Nubble is a beautiful way to enjoy Eagle lake.
Dorr Mt. Ladder Trail
The Ladder Trail leads you on a strenuous hike up the east face of Dorr Mountain to a 1,270 foot summit. Views of the Porcupine Islands to the east and Cadillac Mountain to the west are memorable to say the least.
At only 284 feet, it's an easy hike to the summit of Flying Mountain. The views of Somes Sound and the Cranberry Islands are some of the best on MDI.
Giant Slide Trail
Rising alongside Sargent Brook and peaking at the 1,373 foot summit of Sargent Mountain (second in elevation only to Cadillac Mountain), the Giant Slide Trail is great mountain hiking. Take a map because several trails up Sargent Mt provide plenty of opportunities for exploration, or to get lost.
An awesome hike that follows a creak bed between two of the highest peaks on Mt Desert Island, Cadillac and Dorr Mountains. Views of Bar Harbor, Otter Cove and the two aforementioned peaks are breathtaking from "the Notch", a trail junction 1-1/2 miles into the hike. Choose a peak to finish your hike and return to the Loop Rd by the North Ridge Trail.
Take the spur trail at Cadillac Cliffs past an ancient sea cave for an extra little challenge, otherwise Gorham Mountain is only a moderately difficult hike. Double back, or descend via the Bowl Trail past the base of Beehive and the Ocean Trail along the Park Loop Road back to the parking area.
Great Head Trail
This is one of our favorites! On the easy side of moderate, this hike leads from Sand Beach to the 145 foot summit and a bounty of beautiful pink granite cliffs. You can carefully make your way down the ledge to explore the tidepools and get an up-close look at the waves crashing on the rocky coast. (Slippery when wet)
Less than a mile long, the trail to Hunter's Beach is a peaceful walk through the woods and along a brook. The beach itself consists of millions of small, colorful granite cobbles worn smooth by the crashing surf. Pack a lunch and enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of Hunter's Beach.
Jordan Pond Trail
The three mile walk around Jordan Pond is beautiful. This level trail consists of gravel and dirt, wooden planks, and a couple of large boulders. Combined with lunch or dinner at Jordan Pond House (and popovers of course), this walk is sure be part of a wonderful afternoon.
With three small summits and views of Cadillac Mountain, Bar Harbor and Kebo Valley Golf Course (the 8th oldest course in the United States), Kebo Mountain is a great short hike (less than 2 miles).
Park Loop Road
This scenic 27 mile road takes you to some of the most beautiful parts of Acadia National Park. It also provides access to many of the park's famous hiking trails and carriage roads. Borrow one of the inn's guide books or the audio CD tour to make sure you don't miss anything.
Rising 941 feet, the Parkman Mountain Trail offers striking views of Somes Sound and the islands in the Gulf of Maine south of MDI. The last 150 feet of elevation make for a tough climb, but well worth the effort.
Penobscot Mt./ Jordan Cliffs
One of Acadia's ladder hikes, the strenuous trek up the Jordan Cliffs Trail reaches the Penobscot's summit at 1,194 feet. Enjoy beautiful views of Jordan Pond and the Bubble Mountains on the way up, and the rest of Mount Desert Island when you get to the top.
Arguably, the best hike in Acadia National Park, but not for the faint of heart. A strenuous and challenging trail to the summit of Champlain Mt, climbing the Precipice requires the use of iron rungs drilled into the cliff's face. The trail is usually closed from April to mid-August for the protection of nesting peregrine falcons.
Sargent Mt./ Maple Spring
The Maple Spring Trail follows a creak bed of boulders beneath the Hemlock Bridge to Gilmore Peak, then on to the 1,373 foot summit of Sargent Mountain. Returning via the Hadlock Brook Trail takes you under the Waterfall Bridge, spectacular after a good rain.
Located across Frenchman Bay in another section of Acadia National Park, Schoodic is a little more than an hour's drive (less by way of the Winter Harbor Ferry) from Bar Harbor. Beautiful views can be enjoyed from the rocky coast or one of the four trails, and the waves are consistently impressive.
Ship Harbor Trail
A pleasant walk on the way to Bass Harbor, the Ship Harbor Trail will take you through the woods and over a beautiful granite shelf along the ocean's edge. This hike is a perfect compliment to the Bass Harbor Head Light and dinner at Thurston's Lobster Pound.
St. Sauveur Trail
The St. Sauveur Trail takes you on a moderately challenging hike over 679-foot St. Sauveur Mountain and 520-foot Valley Peak. Hikers seeking a more strenuous multiple-peak trek can make this trail a loop by including 284-foot Flying Mt and 681-foot Acadia Mt.