Whether you’re spending a day, a weekend or a week in Acadia National Park, I strongly recommend checking out Cadillac Mountain and Gorham Mountain. They’re easy hikes (and even drives!) to incredible views. Along the way, you’re immersed in Acadia’s characteristically rocky terrain and leafy deciduous trees. Here’s some of what you can expect if you choose these two mountains.
Cadillac Mountain is one of the most popular mountains in Acadia National Park. To get there, you have to take the Park Loop Road, which is a gorgeous, tree-lined street. Don’t forget you have to have your park pass through here!
Right now, Cadillac Mountain is by reservation-only. This was implemented during COVID, but I have heard rumors that they may keep the practice. Make sure to check out the park’s website! The reservation cost $1.
If you’ve got your reservation or you don’t need one, you can begin up the road to Cadillac Mountain. One nice thing about it is just how accessible it is. You don’t have to hike to get amazing views. As your car climbs the mountain, you get to see lakes and mountains with lots of pull offs for you to take them in.
Once you reach the top, you wait in line to park or you get lucky enough to find a spot right away. The space is a sort of huge rock face with walking paths for you to look out onto the ocean. It feels really endless from here like you could just fall into the Earth. (On that note, be careful! It’s not particularly steep, but always watch your step.) It’s especially beautiful in the fall with all of the trees burning yellow and red.
When you’ve had enough of the view, there are some short trails around Cadillac Mountain, plus bathrooms and a visitors’ center. We took one trail behind the visitors’ center that was smooth in some places and fun/rocky in others. There was a warning where it was rocky to be extra careful.
This trail opened to a nice expanse of the ocean and islands. What was extra nice was that not a lot of people were on this part of the trail, so we got to experience it by ourselves.
If you’re doing them both on the same day (totally doable), you can continue on Park Loop Road to Gorham Mountain. We again needed a reservation for this part of Park Loop Road, so make sure to check in advance to see if you’ll need one, too. The drive is absolutely beautiful as it was on your way to Cadillac Mountain. Park along the street where you find the Gorham Mountain parking lot (or in the lot if it’s not full!).
I should note, there are two ways to enter this trail, but I would recommend starting at the far end (not where the Beehive begins). The first half of this trail is the most fun. It’s really pretty and rocky, but not difficult or scary. This is my favorite type of trail.
And the view from the top aint too bad either. At first, you get to a spot you think is the summit. Take in the view there, but keep going! Eventually you will see the actual summit sign telling you the elevation. I imagine this area is very nice any time of year, but again, the fall colors popping against the blue ocean is just spectacular.
Rather than turning around, you can keep going straight on the trail. This will take you out to the other side, which means you will have to walk along the road or the Ocean Trail to get back to your car. No big deal, it’s beautiful and an easy walk.
At this end of the trail is the Beehive trail, which goes along switchbacks straight up the mountain. We knew we were close when we heard what sounded like hundreds of voices. Not knowing where on Earth they were coming form, we started searching the trees. That’s when we saw them: dozens of people lined up along the switchback edges of the Beehive trail (see pic below). At the sight of this, we decided it wasn’t worth it to wait in line. We kept going and exited the trail shortly thereafter.
If you’re not too tired at this point, you can go along the Ocean Trail up to Sand Beach and back down to Thunder Hole and Otter Cliff. It’s well worth the walk! You can always do it another day, though. Your park pass is good for a week! Instead, head back to Bar Harbor, or take a drive around the West side of the park or check out Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse.
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