While the town of Bar Harbor is full of shopping, restaurants, and charm all on its own, you can't visit this area without venturing into Acadia National Park on Maine's Mount Desert Island. Acadia's landscape is marked with woodland, rocky beaches, and glacier-scoured granite peaks including many unique rock formations. We spent two full days exploring the National Park which seemed like a good amount of time to cover a lot of ground and check several hikes off our bucket list.
There is a shuttle that runs through the park and allows you to hop on and off. However, we rented a car and drove into the park both days to give ourselves a bit more freedom and we and didn't run into any issues with parking or traffic. Park Loop Road is actually very parking friendly and if you can't find a spot in one of the main lots, the road is one way with two-lanes and cars are allowed to park along the right side of the road. The only lot that filled up quick was Jordan Pond House so I recommend getting there early if you can. You'll also need to purchase a recreational pass for Acadia ($30 and good for seven days) and have it displayed on your dash at all times to avoid being ticketed. All the trails we hiked were marked well with signage and blue markers on rocks which was super helpful in keeping us on the right trails. I also had enough cell service on most trails (with T Mobile) to access the All Trails app. So lace up your hiking boots and keep reading to discover my top picks for trails in Acadia National Park.
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Jordan Pond Path - 3.1 miles
This is a 3.1 mile loop trail that starts and ends at Jordan Pound House. It's a very peaceful path around the pond with no real elevation changes. You can hike in either direction. We went counter clockwise and took the path up to South Bubble (see below) and then finished the loop trail. Originally we weren't going to go all the way around, but the second half (going counterclockwise) was the best part with a picturesque wooden bridge and the elevated wooden walkway through the forest. If you plan to eat at Jordan Pond House I would suggest starting early enough that you can end around 10:45a to get in line before the restaurant opens at 11a (we finished our hike at 11:30a and there was already a long wait). Another option would be to put your name on the list and then hike and come back.
South Bubble Summit - 3/3.5 miles
There are a few different ways to access this trail. We started at Jordan Pond House and took the trail up from Jordan Pond Path which is 3 miles out and back or 3.5 miles if you continue through on the entire loop. The hike up to South Bubble is moderate with some sections requiring lots of rock scrambling. Once you make it to the summit with views of Jordan Pond, be sure to continue on the path to the famous "bubble rock" which was placed on the side of the cliff by glaciers. If you're continuing on Jordan Pond Path, be sure to keep hiking on to Bubble Divide which will take you back down (I don't recommend hiking back down South Bubble like we did). If you continue on this way it's also a short hike over to North Bubble. You can also access this trail from the smaller parking lot on Park Loop Road and follow Jordan Pond Carry trail.
Beech Cliff/Canada Cliff - 1.8/2.4 miles
This gets my vote for the most underrated hike in Acadia. Parking is available at the Echo Beach lot and we arrived midday and were one of only a handful of cars here. You'll definitely want to hike this one counter clockwise so park toward the end of the lot closest to the beach for the trailhead to Beech Cliff. There are four iron rung ladders you'll have to climb on this hike which are a lot of fun (and much less tricky than Beehive). When you get to the summit, be sure to continue past for the .4 mile loop which has stunning views of Echo Lake (we sadly missed the part). You can either climb back down the ladders or continue on through to Canada Cliffs trail which isn't super exciting but is a nice, peaceful hike through the woods.
Beehive Loop - 1.5 miles
A truly can't miss hike in Acadia - this trail is not for the faint of heart and features rock scrambling, iron ladders bolted into the rocks, and narrow ledges but so worth it for the views at the top! For this trail you'll park at the Sand Beach Lot (the entrance on Park Loop Road opened at 8am on October 1 so don't worry about arriving super early or panic when you arrive and there are cones blocking like we did) and then cross the road to access the trailhead. The first section is moderate and rocky and then you'll get to the short but steep climb.
This is also a great trail to combine with others to make it longer or shorter. We hiked counterclockwise (highly recommended for climbing ladders) and then continued on to The Bowl and Gorham Mountain before ending our hike along the gorgeous rocky shoreline on the Ocean Path (approximately 4.5 miles total; see below). You can also make it a loop on it's own by climbing Beehive and following Bowl trail back around.
The Bowl - 1.2 mile
This trail can be accessed via Bowl Trail from the Beehive trailhead but I personally wouldn't recommend it as an out and back on it's own. However, if you're hiking Beehive it's an easy add on that leads out to a small lake. We didn't spend much time here but it was a peaceful spot to take a quick rest before continuing on through to Gorham Mountain.
Gorham Mountain - 1.6 miles
If you're following the same route we did, you'll continue on from the Bowl up Gorham Mountain Trail to the summit of Gorham Mountain at 525 feet elevation (slightly higher than Beehive). This trail can also be completed as an out and back (1.6 miles parking at Gorham Trailhead) or loop trail with Ocean Path (3 miles parking at Sand Beach or Gorham Trailhead). This trail is dog friendly and moderate compared to the others with minimal rock scrambling.
Ocean Path - 4.5 miles
This path is flat, well maintained and runs parallel to Park Loop Road along the gorgeous, rocky Maine coastline. You can make this hike as long or as short as you want, and can even drive along Park Loop Road and see the same sites if you don't want to hike. From Gorham Mountain we followed the trail back down to the Gorham trailhead parking lot (which saved a TON of time if you're following the same path we did) and we still got to see a lot of Ocean Path including Boulder Beach and the famous Thunder Hole where the waves crash into the rocks and sound like thunder. There are lots of great places to walk out on the rocky coast as well and a short detour (heading away from Sand Beach) from the Gorham Mountain trailhead will allow you to see Otter Cliffs as well. All in all, you're really not missing out on much by not doing the full 6.3 mile loop (Beehive, Bowl, Gorham Mountain, Ocean Path) you'll see listed on All Trails.
Cadillac Mountain is well known for being the first place in the U.S. to watch the sunrise. You'll need to make an advance reservation to drive up to the summit within a 30 minute window and sunrise and sunset book up quick. However, if you're not a fan of early wake up calls and crowds, you can visit the summit at any time of the day. We went at 3:30pm and it was still breathtaking to walk around at the top. This isn't really a hike since you're driving to the top, but there is a .5 mile paved loop around this summit which is a lot of fun to walk around and take in the views from different vantage points.
I love creating detailed travel guides to ensure you get the most out of your time. On this blog I'll be sharing some of my past trips in hopes that it helps you plan your next adventure. Pack your suitcase you never know where I'll be heading next!
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