While not a high peak by normal standards, Mansell Mountain is one of the higher ones within Acadia National Park in Maine. Acadia is one of the US's most visited national parks with beautiful views and places to be taken in.
Located on Mount Desert Island, this is Maine's largest island at around 108 square miles (originally called Pemetic Island by the native Wabanakis meaning "Sloping Land"). The island is also the 6th largest in the lower 48 states.
It was named by French explorer Samuel de Champlain in 1604 and sources indicate he named it due to it either being deserted or because the mountains were bare of vegetation and not obviously because it resembled any type of desert. Most mountains here are granite with a worn dome shape and Mansell is no exception. It's the same type of granite that comprises the island's highest peak, Cadillac Mountain. It's characterized by a pink to greenish-gray color and is course grained. The grains are made up of quartz, feldspar, hornblende and occasionally biotite.
At 949 feet high, it is not going to cause any altitude problems but it does afford excellent views of Southwest Harbor and its islands out to the Atlantic Ocean. Lakes abound all around so enjoy the mound with a friend or hound and all there is to be found. Enjoy a hike up Mansell and hit many just like it nearby with trails up Bernard (actually connected to Mansel by trail and just a short hike down the Great Notch between) and Beech Mountains.
A Little History
On November 8, 1603, King Henry IV of France gave the first European land grant in Maine to Pierre du Gast. It included land from Newfoundland south the the territory of L'Acadie. Champlain named the island the following year. The thing of it is, that King James of England granted the Virginia Company much of the same territory in 1606. Skirmishes occurred for 157 years here and the French attempt at colonization ended in an attack by the English who burned it and set the survivors adrift at sea (other than the leaders they took to Virginia for ransom).
On November (a popular month for events on this island) 19, 1622, Sir Robert Mansell purchased Mount Desert Island for 110 pounds. Mansell had been successful in a seafaring career and had been knighted for helping the English take Calais, France in 1596. He was promoted to Vice Admiral in 1601 and Treasurer of the Royal Navy in 1604. He even sat on the board of directors of the New England Company which helped finance the Pilgrim's colony at Plymouth. In his spare time he managed to develop the English glassblowing and winemaking industries. Don't you feel like a lazy lump now?
Anyway, Mansell renamed the island Mount Mansell Island (hell, why not?) and this name was used for about 70 years. Incidentally, Mt. Mansell was what Brown's Mountian was called but George Dorr (see Dorr Mountain page) renamed that to Norumbega Mountain (what the heck is a Norumbega?) and named the east peak of Western Mountain as Mt. Mansell. Aren't you glad we've all moved past that now?
Back to the history lesson. Even though Mansell had made his mark there, the skirmishes continued throughout the French and Indian Wars until 1763 (Mansell long dead by then) when the Treaty between the victorious British over the French made it part of the British colonies (or we might be visiting Le Parc du Nationale D'Acadie today) and it began to be settled by colonists. In 1788 it came under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the island was in the state of Massachusetts until 1820 when Maine separated and became its own state. And the rest, they say, is history with a lot of lobster boiling.
To get onto Mount Desert Island, you have to get to Maine Highway 3. (From I-95 in Bangor, take Route 1A to Ellsworth where you catch Highway 3.) Highway 3 is the only road onto the island. The island is about 50 miles southwest of Bangor. (You could also take Highway 3 from Augusta, ME to Ellsworth for a more scenic route.)
After paying your entrance fee, shortly after you are on the island take the right fork onto Route 102. Follow this through Town Hill, Somesville and pass Echo Lake on the right to Southwest Harbor where you will head right on Seal Cove Road for a short distance to a right on Long Pond Road. Long Pond Road ends at a boat ramp and parking lot (and the trailhead). You're going to get a park map when you enter showing all this too.
RoutesAs none of these routes should take more than a couple hours, I will present them in this section, rather than as individual routes. You could combine them in any number of ways to keep it interesting.
There are at least 4 or 5 options to access the summit with a few other variations thrown in. To try to give you a visual, Mansell Mountain appears as a long oval stretched north and south from the summit if you were to view it from above.
From the southeast side, the Great Pond Trail heads north (the right fork) and in a counterclockwise fashion arcs around the north side of Mansell ending at a point on the northwest side of the mountain where it intersects with the Western Trail. Most hikes start at this point (see the Getting There section above for directions to this trailhead). The most direct route to the summit, and with a historical note involved due to the cut stone steps on it, the Perpendicular Trail heads up in a northwesterly direction from the Great Pond Trail about 2/10 of a mile from the trailhead. There are signs at the junctions. This route is about 1.1 miles one way from the trailhead to summit. Really neat outdoor stairmaster for your workout here. Good views to the east up near the summit.
If you were to head left at the trailhead at the south end of Long Pond, this is a connector trail called Cold Brook Trail that heads to Gilley Field (another parking area to the south of Mansell Mountain (whereas Long Pond TH is to the southeast). From Gilley Field at the junction with this connector trail is another fork heading north called the Mansell Mountain Trail. It runs straight north and south along the south-stretched part of the Mansell Mountain oval shape.
Another fork heading even more left (northwest) from Gilley Field is the Great Notch Trail. This heads to the notch between Mansell Mountain and it's brother to the west, Bernard Mountain. If you took the Great Notch Trail to the northwest, shortly after the trailhead is another fork and the right fork here is the Razorback Trail. This heads to the summit of Mansell and connects up with the Mansell Mountain Trail up near the summit.
The left fork of the Great Notch Trail heads to the Great Notch where is meets up with the Western Trail that comes in from the northwest side of Mansell. From the Great Notch, the left fork of the Western Trail heads down to a trailhead on the northwest side of Mansell and the right fork heads up to the summit meeting up with the Razorback Trail and Mansell Mountain Trail near the summit. (All of these trails are like spokes on a wheel around Mansell Mountain.)
The best "official" visual I can find is if you access this website:
CLICK HERE and then scroll down using the moving bar on the right side of the page until you come to page 196 of this book.
Or you can buy the book Hiking Acadia National Park by Dolores Kong and Dan Ring and solve all your problems.
The drawing below may help you visualize my notes in the section:
Red TapeThis is a National Park so that means fees. Not always though as November through April are fee free (definitely not tourist season in central Maine). But, depending on how many feet or wheels you got to the island on, you are going to pay from $5 to $40. LINK TO THIS PAGE for park fee information.
There are two campgrounds on the island. The nearest to Mansell Mountain is Seawall Campground.
The other campground is Blackwoods Campground.
Both of those links have complete information on rates, restrictions, etc. HERE is another site with camping information for the park.
Mountain ConditionsAcadia National Park
PO Box 177
Bar Harbor, ME 04609
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Island Weather Generalities
Bar Harbor, ME Harborcam
Acadia National Park Webcam
Bar Harbor, MEOn Mt. Desert Island, the main town is Bar Harbor, ME (pronounced baHAba when there). It's a cool little tourist town that's worth some time visiting.
Bar Harbor info
Maine Tourism Site
Bar Harbor Dining
Bar Harbor Lodging