OverviewThis nice ridge walk is 2.2 miles, one way, with 1150 feet of vertical gain. It leads you from Park Loop Road to the summit of Acadia's highest mountain.
This trail is a simple class 1 hike that can be done by most, providing nice views of Bar Harbor to the east (the town and the harbor) as well as Eagle Lake and Sargent Mountain to the west.
Be sure to take multiple breaks and watch as the Bar Island Tidal Path either comes into, or vanishes from, view throughout your hike.
Getting ThereThe trailhead is located on the south side of the Park loop road, approximately 1/2 mile from the junction of Park Loop Road and Paradise Hill Road. The pull-off is on the north (right hand) side of the road and is also used a lookout. The parking is limited (~15 cars) so during peak months it is recommended to arrive early.
There are multiple ways to the Park Loop/Paradise Hill Road junction, which include:
At the intersection of 198 and 233 head east. Travel 4.5 miles and turn right (south) at the intersection of 233 and Paradise Hill Road. At the Y intersection of Paradise Hill and Park Loop Road turn left (east).
From Bar Harbor:
Go west at the junction of Rte 3 and 233. Travel approximately 1 1/4 mile to the intersection of 233 and Paradise Hill Road. Turn left (south) and travel approximately 1/2 mile. At the Y intersection of Paradise Hill and Park Loop Road turn left (east).
From Blackwoods Campground (shortest route):
Leave the camprground and turn left and head west on Rte 3 (if you turn right use the directions from Bar Harbor). In ~3/4 mile turn right (north) on Park Loop road. Follow Park Loop road for ~6 miles, bearing right at the Y intersetion of Park Loop and Paradise Hill Rd. DO NOT TURN RIGHT ON THE ROAD TO CADILLAC MOUNTAIN SUMMIT
*NOTE: Park Loop Road is one way at this point so if you miss the pull off you will have to travel another 8 miles to get to the trail head. The quickest way to return is to travel ~1.5 miles on Park Loop Road, taking your first left. Go ~1/2 mile (past the golf course) and turn left at the intersection. Follow this road for another 1/2 mile and it will intersect with Rte 233. At the 233 intersection turn left (west) and follow to Paradise Hill Road.
Route DescriptionThe hike described is one-way. From the summit of Cadillac Mountain there are multiple exit routes, but only doing this trail in reverse will bring you directly back to your vehicle. Along the entire trail you will have views of Bar Island, The Pocurpine Islands that dot Bar Harbor, Door Mountain, and Eagle Lake.
From the pull out find the obviously marked trailhead on the south side of Park Loop Road. The North Ridge Trail heads south and is blazed blue. Follow the blazes across paths and exposed granite while you steadily climb. The grade is easy, gaining 325' in the first 3/4 mile.
At the 3/4 mile point the trail connects with the road to Cadillac Mountain's summit for the first time. The trail does not cross the road, and will stay to the east of the road. Continue to follow the blue blazes as the trail and road run in parallel.
Shortly afterwards the trail leaves the road, continuing to head south. This is the steepest section of the trail, gaining approximately 500' in less than 1/2 mile. The trail and road come together a second time. Again, remain to the east of the road and on the blue-blazed path. This area will provide the best vantage point for viewing Bar Island, a tidal island with a natural low-tide path "The Bar" that is only exposed when the tide is out.
At about 1200' the trail leaves the road and veers south east. Over the last 1/2 mile you will gain the final 322 feet to reach the summit. As you approach the summit you will see the road (again) and multiple restoration area signs. It is easy to avoid the restricted areas as they are roped and fenced.
The summit is unmarked - however it is easy to locate the highest area. With a road leading to it, the summit can be crowded and there is a paved loop path that will give you a panoramic view of the park. There are multiple information placards identifying key vieing points, including Katahdin. There are restrooms at the summit.
To return to your car, take this route in reverse.