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Hiking Acadia National Park
by Dolores Kong and Dan Ring

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Trailhead:  N 44° 21.76'
W 68° 12.45'
Total Elevation:  3222'
Trail Length:  4.7 miles
Hike Time:  3 hours
Hike Type:  Loop
Difficulty Rating:  111
Near:  Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, ME.
Note regarding hike time and elevation traversed.  

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Trip Report and Photos

Located on Mount Desert Island in Maine is Acadia National Park, the first national park east of the Mississippi River. Located within the park are over 125 miles of hiking trails. During June of 2009, Shari and I vacationed here and got an opportunity to explore some of these trails. I first exploration of the trails here took us to the top of Champlain Mountain. This hike had us exploring the Tarn, hiking through the Gorge, and climbing to the top of Dorr Mountain.

Dorr Mountain is the third tallest mountain on the island with an elevation of 1270 feet. The weather for this hike was awesome, with blue skies, and only a few puffy, cumulus clouds dotting the sky. The length of this hike was going to be a little under 5 miles.

The trailhead for this hike is located south of the town of Bar Harbor and in the park proper, near the Nature Center, Wild Gardens of Acadia, and the Sieur de Monts Spring. Heading out of town, on route ME3, you will drive for about 1.6 miles. You'll see the park entrance on your right. After turning right, drive for about a tenth of a mile and then turn left towards the Nature Center. After another 0.2 miles you'll find yourself in a parking lot. Park here and begin your hike on Jessup Path.

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Located just behind the Nature Center is the Jessup Path. This is where we started our hike. After a little more than a tenth of a mile we came across the intersection with the Dorr Mountain Trail. We turned left and continued on the Jessup Path.

At about 0.4 miles the Jessup Path turns into the Tarn Trail. We emerged out of the woods and along a small pond called The Tarn. The trail here parallels the shore of the pond. With the recent rains, the level of the pond had risen, and in some places the trail was flooded. In some places the trail was flooded so much that neither Shari or I could pass. We found ourselves scrambling over rock to the right of the trail so that we could keep our feet dry.

The trail crosses a rocky section along the Tarn.

After 0.3 miles we soon left the banks of The Tarn and headed back into the woods. The trail here was damp in places, with an occasional small bridge spanning little streams flowing in from our right. The bugs seemed to be a little bad on this section of the trail, probably because of the standing water and marshiness of the surroundings.

For the next mile, the hiking was rather level and we enjoyed the coolness of the woods. At 1.8 miles we began our ascent as the trail turned right. We climbed a bit and then the trail leveled off, but only for a short while. After a tenth of a mile we came to the intersection of the Dorr Mountain South Ridge Trail. We turned right here and once again began to climb.

The climb up the Dorr Mountain South Ridge Trail was, for the most part, a nice gradual ascent. There were a few areas where the trail became somewhat steep, but these sections were short and few and far between. The trail traversed large areas of solid granite, with on one short boulder field that we had to climb over. Shari and I took our time doing the climb, pausing a number of times to turn around and enjoy the view of Otter's Cove and the ocean beyond. We passed about 8 other hikers coming down the trail as we climbed up.

We reached the top of Dorr Mountain after hiking 3.2 miles from the trailhead. Once at the top be took a break to rehydrate ourselves as well as enjoy the 360 degree view. There was a lady and her dog at the top as well, enjoying their lunch. We spoke with her for a while, as she was a local, and gave us some suggestions on where else to hike and what else to see while we were on the island. We thanked her for her advice and began our descent back down the mountain on Dorr Mountain North Ridge Trail.

The climb down the mountain was a little steeper then our climb up to the top, but still quite manageable. We had the opportunity to take in some more great views before the trail reentered a heavily wooded section. At 4.3 miles into the hike, the Dorr Mountain North Ridge Trail came to an end at its intersection with the Hemlock Trail. We turned right here and continued our descent down the mountain.

After a short, and somewhat steep hike down the Hemlock Trail, we came upon an old forest road in 0.2 miles. It was still used quite a bit, but the traffic looked to be predominately foot traffic. We turned right here and in another 0.4 miles we found ourselves back at the Nature Center and our car parked at the trailhead.

The hike to the top of Dorr Mountain was another great adventure exploring the trails of Acadia National Park. The views from the top were even better than the ones from atop Mount Champlain that I took in just two days prior. The may reason for this was the fact that it wasn't raining, and the nearly cloudless blue skies made the views even more beautiful. Our next hike was to be along the south-eastern shoreline and I was really looking forward to seeing the sights along the rocky beaches. Acadia National Park was quickly becoming one of my favorite hiking destinations.

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Acadia National Park

  • The Tarn

    The Tarn

    Nestled between Dorr Mountain and Mount Champlain is this small lake, called The Tarn. The Tarn Trail parallels the shore of the lake and offers sweeping views of the pond and the surrounding mountains.
  • Eagle Lake

    Eagle Lake

    This majestic view looks down on Eagle Lake. This is from Conner's Nubble, just north of the Bubbles, near Jordan Pond.
  • Atop Acadia Mountain

    Atop Acadia Mountain

    This view from atop the National Park's namesake, Acadia Mountain, looks south towards the small town of Southwest Harbor. Elevation of Acadia Mountain is a modest 681 feet above sea level.
  • Foggy Morning

    Foggy Morning

    A rainy, foggy morning from the south shore of Jordan Lake. In the distance are the Bubbles.
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