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The Best Hiking Trails at Acadia National Park, Maine, USA

Overview

Acadia National Park in Maine is a magnificent national park with plenty of scenic views and beautiful hikes. During our trip, we had the opportunity to check out more than a few over a long weekend and would recommend them to just about anyone. Here are our thoughts on the best hiking trails we visited!

1. North Bubble Trail

Time Spent: 1 hour 45 minutes
Distance: 2.5 Miles (Roundtrip)
Hiking Difficulty: Beginner to Moderate
Type of Trail: There & Back
Cost: Free

This was by far our favorite hike of the whole trip. The expansive and breathtaking arial views of both Jordan Pond and Eagle Lake are simply unbeatable. This is a tough parking situation though, since there is a very small car park (15-20 cars) and another small inlet (5-10 cars) about a 5 minute walk down the road. There is no street parking. We tried to do this hike earlier in our trip, but simply couldn’t find a parking spot to do so during the day.

That being the case, we decided to make this an early morning activity to make sure that we got a spot and beat the crowds – around 8am. The Bubble trails split off after about a 5-10 minute walk up the trail into the North and South Bubbles. We decided to head to the North Bubble first and we’re glad we did. On the North Bubble Trail, don’t stop at just the view over Jordan Pond – keep following the trail through the woods and you’ll be rewarded with an epic view over Eagle Lake pretty much to yourself.

2. South Bubble Trail and Bubble Rock

Time Spent: 1 hour
Distance: 1 Mile (Roundtrip)
Hiking Difficulty: Beginner
Type of Trail: There & Back
Cost: Free

South Bubble is a famous hike at Acadia National Park and it features a large boulder that was carried by glaciers and settled on the edge of a cliff. Similar to the North Bubble Trail, this is a tough parking situation, as it shares the same parking lot. We recommend doing the North Bubble Trail first, since it’s a bit longer and slightly more difficult hike, and if you do, you can just follow the South Bubble Trail at the trail split on your way back down. Otherwise, just follow the trail from the car park for where the trails split and head up towards South Bubble.

3. Cadillac Mountain and Blue Hill Overlook

Time Spent: 4 hours 30 minutes – or 1 hour (if you are driving to the top)
Distance: 7.5 Miles
Hiking Difficulty: Moderate
Type of Trail: Loop
Cost: Free

Go for sunrise! It’s worth getting up early, as Cadillac Mountain is the first place to see the sunrise on the East Coast. If you don’t hike up, you can easily drive to the top, since it’s only about a 20 minute drive from Bar Harbor. It will be cold, so be sure to bring layers – a hat, scarf and maybe a blanket. We recommend getting to the mountain a solid 30-45 minutes before sunrise to get a relatively good parking spot and, pro tip, face your car facing downhill so it’s easy to just pull out and avoid traffic. On the mountain, you should walk down past the groups of people to get good pictures to find a spot for sunrise without getting many people in your shot.

It’s worth heading back to Cadillac Mountain towards the end of the day, about 1-2 hours before sunset, even if you were at here for sunrise. The crowds are more tame and you have some great lookouts to take photos with good light facing east as the sun is beginning its decent behind you in the west.

Blue Hill Overlook is also only a 10 minute walk away from Cadillac and has by far one of the best sunset views we’ve ever seen. Post up at a nice spot with some snacks about 30 minutes before sunset over Eagle Lake and you will have a 270 degree view over the park – it’s breathtaking!

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4. Great Head Trail

Time Spent: 1 hour 45 minutes
Distance: 1.7 Miles
Hiking Difficulty: Beginner to Moderate
Type of Trail: Loop
Cost: Free

The best way to get to the Great Head Trail head is to walk across Sand Beach and the entrance is a bit hidden on the far side of the beach – to the left as you’re looking at the water. This hike starts out in the woods, but opens up and has some pretty incredible views of not only the ocean, but on the loop back, there is a spectacular view of Sand Beach and the Beehive from a nice vantage point.

We recommend coming to this trail earlier in the morning, around 8-9am, since parking was tough to come back to midday near Sand Beach for the Great Head Trail when we came here. We were able to find a spot in the early afternoon, but had to park a bit away and walk a bit. The car park is very large, and there is parking along the street when the lot is full, but this is a very popular area and provides access to a few different hikes, so there are big crowds. For this reason, we recommend grouping a few different hikes together and packing a lunch on the day you plan on visiting this area of the park.

5. Ocean Path and Otter Point

Time Spent: 2 hours 45 minutes
Distance: 4 Miles (Roundtrip)
Hiking Difficulty: Beginner
Type of Trail: There & Back
Cost: Free

This is an easy, but long, walk and definitely worth it. This trail runs parallel with the road and there are plenty of places where you can walk off the path towards the rocks that have great views of the water and of Sand Beach the more you continue on. There is an attraction called Thunder Hole along the walk and, on days when tides are strong, the waves pour into the natural inlet and produce a sound that is reminiscent of distant thunder. 

There isn’t a loop to this trail, since it’s more walking down to Otter Point and then turning back around to walk the same trail back, but it’s a great change of pace and family-friendly walk. We found that the views on the way back are more scenic, since you see Sand Beach from a different perspective and there are things you might not have noticed on the way out.

6. Jordan Pond Path

Time Spent: 2 hours 15 minutes
Distance: 3.3 Miles
Hiking Difficulty: Beginner
Type of Trail: Loop
Cost: Free

Saving this hike for early in the morning will get you a prime parking spot and the trail pretty much all to yourself! Of all the trails, along with the North and South Bubble Trails, this one is a must do first thing in the morning – around 8am. As the day progresses, people flock here in masses and the car park fills very quickly, so make sure to get here before everyone else does.

We started the path around the pond going to the left and we thought it was much better route than if we had decided to go to the right. This is a very easy walk around the pond, there aren’t many inclines, if any at all, and is a walking trail for just about anyone.

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7. Norumbega Trail / Hadlock Ponds

Time Spent: 3 hours
Distance: 3.2 Miles (Roundtrip)
Hiking Difficulty: Moderate to Advanced
Type of Trail: Loop
Cost: Free

We consider this a moderate to advanced bouldering climb for the initial part of the hike, but as you keep going up, the incline becomes more gradual. There is an initial payoff view about 30-45 minutes up the trail, but as you move on the hike, the landscape completely opens and the ever-expanding scenery was one of the coolest views of the weekend. This is also a fairly off the beaten path trail and not too popular, however, it was one of our favorites. During the entire course of this 3 hour hike, we only saw one person, which made it very peaceful.

As you move on in the hike, it eventually becomes an easy, gradual decline and you are lead to Hadlock Ponds before getting back on the loop path to the car park. Between Hadlock Ponds and the car park, there is a mossy area that was pretty incredible to see – we recommend stopping for a bit to marvel in it and take a few close up photographs.

8. Flying Mountain

Time Spent: 1 hour 45 minutes
Distance: 1.5 Miles
Hiking Difficulty: Moderate
Type of Trail: Loop
Cost: Free

This is a great moderate hike that provides views over Somes Sound and winds down to Valley Cove along the water. Valley Cove is a great oceanside spot for relaxing and dipping your feet at the end of the hike before a leisurely walk back to the car park. If you have time to fit this trail in, you definitely should!

Bottom Line

While these are eight of the best hikes to visit in Acadia National Park, there are plenty of others weÔÇÖd recommend looking up and checking out (take a look at the Beehive)! The next time we get to Acadia, weÔÇÖll be sure to update this list and continue to provide details for the best ways to experience the park.

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