Acadia Hiking Guide: Gorham Mountain

Gotham Mountain

View of Sand Beach, Great Head, Schoodic Peninsula, and Old Soaker from Gorham Mountain.

We went hiking at 5:30pm on a day in early September, and from trail marker to trail marker we had the mountain to ourselves. We saw no one until we got to the parking lot. This is one of the fascinating aspects of Acadia National Park. It’s one of the smallest national parks in the country and at the same time one of the most visited, and yet it’s entirely possible to go to the busiest sections during peak season and get solitude.

Gorham Mountain is a north-south mountain that runs parallel to the Ocean Drive, the latter of which is one of the busiest sections in the entire US national park system. It’s busy for a reason – it’s beautiful and iconic with Sand Beach, Great Head, Thunder Hole, and Otter Cliffs. The Beehive nearby is one of the most hiked hikes in the park, too. And Gorham is one of the easiest mountains to hike because it’s not tall and not steep, but there it is, with spectacular views and not nearly as many people on it as you’d expect.

I tell guests that Gorham makes for a wonderful introductory hike into the park. One gets to see three of the main sites in Acadia and get away from people at the same time. There are a few different ways to hike it, and they are spelled out below:

  • Beehive to Gorham to the Ocean Path: Park near Sand Beach, hike up the Beehive (steep ladders makes this thrilling to some, but it’s easier than it looks – still, not recommended for those who fear heights), down the Bowl Trail on the back of the Beehive, head over Gorham Mtn., then walk back to Sand Beach on the Ocean Path. This takes about 2.5 – 3.5 hours, depending on how busy the Beehive is. It’s physically easy to hike down the ladders of the Beehive, but because there can be so many people going up, going down would just get in the way. Don’t go down the ladder trail of the Beehive during the season.
  • Gorham to the Ocean Path: This is the more popular route to take, and it’s a bit easier than the Beehive option because it doesn’t matter which side you park on. If Sand Beach is full, just drive all the way down to Thunder Hole or the Gorham Mtn. parking lot after Thunder Hole. It’s a loop, and an easy one at that, so just park, hike in one direction up, and head back in the other direction on the Ocean Path. Give this about a two-hour hike roundtrip without stopping much. During blueberry season, add another 1-3 hours depending on your appetite.
  • Cadillac Cliffs: This is a WONDERFUL section for the kids. Located at the southern end of Gorham, it splits off the main trail and rejoins later on. One feels like one is walking through the land of giants. Kids with an imagination are going to love this section.

We’re full of these types of tips because we do these hikes on our days off. Click our booking engine to reserve today and get more helpful tips at: www.miramonte.com.

Acadia Hiking Guide: Dorr Mountain

Dorr Mtn.

View of the porcupines from Dorr Mtn.

Named after the Father of Acadia, George B. Dorr, Dorr Mountain is one of the more popular and yet overlooked mountains on Acadia. There are four different ways to head up and around the mountain with a couple of paths that connect with others to get to the top:

  • The Schiff Path has lots of steps, but it probably the easiest of the hikes to do. With stunning views of Frenchman’s Bay, this is our favorite hike for Dorr.
  • The Ladder Trail is a vertical trail that heads straight up the east face of the mountain. It’s less exposed than the Precipice and Beehive, but still fun, and Dorr is a much larger mountain than Champlain (Precipice) and the Beehive are. The Ladder Trail, or the East Face Trail, connect to the Schiff Path for the hike to the summit.
  • The North Ridge Trail starts around the Sieur du Mont Springs area and the Jesup Trail. It can be linked from the Kebo Mountain Trail, and for a long day is walkable from the Mira Monte Inn.
  • The South Ridge Trail is a long hike that connects to the Canon Brook Trail or the Gorge to the east (not to be confused with the Gorge Path – see below). One can head down the South Ridge and take a left on the Canon Path back to the parking lot, or turn right toward Canon Brook and it’s wonderful waterfall. If going to Canon Brook, take the A. Murray Young Path back up the western side of Dorr. This is a long loop that summits Dorr twice, but is well worth it.
  • The Gorge Path, on the western side of the mountain, is usually used to hike Cadillac Mtn., but there’s no reason to avoid it going up Dorr.
  • The A. Murray Young Trail heads down the western and southern ends of the mountain near Canon Brook (see South Ridge Trail above).

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Acadia Hiking Guide: Ship Harbor, Wonderland, Seawall, and Bass Harbor

Ship Harbor

Ship Harbor in Acadia National Park

Ever wanted an easy hiking day when you could knock off two hikes, go ocean gazing, see a lighthouse, and eat at one of the best lobster-eating spots all at the same time? We here at the Mira Monte have been advising this little tour for several years now for those looking to get outside without exerting too much physical effort. It takes about 2-4 hours if done at the right time, and that includes the eating part, too!

Drive through Southwest Harbor and take a left onto Rt 102, also known as Seawall Rd. After driving about 10 min, you’ll come to Seawall, a beautiful, natural sea wall with tide pools to explore and fantastic granite rocks to lie down, read a book, and watch the boats float by the southern shores of Mount Desert Island. If you don’t do the lobster pound noted below, this is a fantastic picnic spot.

From there, head down the road about two minutes until you come to the Wonderland and Ship Harbor parking lots. They are about 100 yards apart from each other, so if you can’t get parking in one, try the other. Each hike is about a 20-40 minute hike out to the sea and back. Wonderland has a bit more spread-out views, similar to Seawall, while Ship Harbor has a deceptively shallow harbor to explore (especially at low tide) where more than a few ships have been wrecked.

From these two hikes, head a bit more down the road and come to Bass Harbor Head Light. Parking here can be difficult, but just because you see cars parked on the side of the road doesn’t mean it’s full in the lot. There are two ways to see the lighthouse, off to the right (a paved path that takes you down by the bell) and off to the left (wooden steps that lead out on to the rocky foundation of the lighthouse itself). The left-hand walk (no more than 5min) is a very popular sunset destination.

Finally, if you’re in the area between about 1:30pm and 5:30pm, head over to the other side of Bass Harbor to the town of Bernard and sit outside on the deck of the working-dock restaurant known as Thurston’s. Not only is this one of the most beautiful, rustic spots to eat, but the value is fantastic, too. They are open more than just during these times, but Thurston’s can get quite busy at lunch and dinner.

To book your stay at Mira Monte and get more hiking tips, check out our availability calendar here. See you soon!

Acadia Hiking Guide: Jesup Trail

Acadia National Park Jesup Trail

The boardwalk on the Jesup Trail.

Sometimes the park is furiously busy. I’ve been in a car on the Park Loop Road, just past the Precipice parking lot before the toll booths, that has taken over 1.5 hours to get to Sand Beach. That’s less than a mile in that time. Yes, Acadia is magical, and it is one of the most beautiful parks in the United States, but at times the hot spots can get crowded and parking can be next to impossible. That’s why we at the Mira Monte Inn have a few trails that we can recommend where one can leave the car at the Mira Monte and hike straight from the front porch. The Jesup Trail is one of those hikes.

As you can see from the photo, I walk my dog out here quite a bit. From the Mira Monte, out to Sieur de Mont Springs and back, the hike is about 1.5 hours and is mostly flat. One also gets to walk on the Great Meadow Loop enroute. And if you want to make things a bit longer, you can add other loops such as the Hemlock Trail, the Strathden Path, and even Kebo Brook and Kebo Mountain. For more serious hikers, the Gorge Trail and therefore Cadillac Mountain and Door Mountain are also accessible off the same system of trails. The Great Meadow Loop alone is about an hour, so there’s a shorter option if that fits your itinerary better.

To get to the Jesup Trail from the Inn, walk across the street to Spring Street and follow that straight, keeping the kiddie pool at Glen Mary to your left, out to Ledgelawn Cemetery. From there, look diagonally right across the street and you’ll see the start of the Great Meadow Loop. Most of the Great Meadow Loop is on private land, but that’s OK as it is designated as a hike in the area. Follow that around eventually to the left where you’ll walk along the road a little bit near Kebo Valley Golf Course. The path picks up a bit down the road near the Holy Redeemer Cemetery. Actually, at the Holy Redeemer Cemetery you’ll see access to the Strathden, Kebo Brook and Mountain, and Gorge Trails, so you can do that if that’s your wish.

To head to the Jesup Trail, keep going up the path that follows the road. At the Park Loop Road, stay left on the Great Meadow Loop until you come to the Jesup Trail sign post. Cross the Park Loop Road and you’re there. To come back, either re-trace your steps, or follow the Great Meadow Loop around, eventually ending up on the other side of Ledgelawn Cemetery. There’s even a nice rocky brook to soak your feet in near the end of the hike. Pandora, the pup in the picture, uses that as a must-stop drinking spot.

Do this hike at dusk and there’s a high likelihood you’ll spot some deer.

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Acadia National Park Fee Free Days

The National Park Service is offering 4 fee free days to National Parks, including Acadia National Park Fee Free Days in 2018.

Acadia National Park Fee Free Days are:

  • Jan. 15: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • April 21: first day of National Park Week
  • Sept. 22: National Public Lands Day
  • Nov. 11: Veterans Day

“This is your chance to experience your national park and services in the neighboring communities and decide when you will come back in the future. Every season in Acadia has its own unique beauty and adventure” said Acadia Superintendent Kevin Schneider.

The park normally has an entrance fee of $25 per vehicle and $20 per motorcycle which is good return visits for seven days. Walkers and bicyclists can get a weekly pass for $12. An annual pass to Acadia costs $50.

For more information, visit www.nps.gov/acad or call 207-288-3338.