Penobscot Mountain
GOOD FOR: Ages 9-12

Source:Outdoors with Kids Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont (AMC Books)
Address:Park Loop Road, Seal Harbor
Hours:No posted hours; contact park for seasonal road and trail closures
Fee: $20 per vehicle; $5 per adult without a vehicle, including bicyclists and pedestrians (children under 15 are free)

Acadia National Park, 207-288-3338,

Bathrooms: Restrooms at Jordan Pond House
Water/Snacks: Restaurant and gift shop at Jordan Pond House

USGS Southwest Harbor quad; Acadia National Park Discovery Map (AMC), Eastern Mount Desert Island: E5–E6

From boardwalks and bridges to stone staircases and sheer cliff faces, this varied terrain will keep older children engaged as they seek the scenic summit.

A stone makeshift bench overlooking Jordan Pond offers an excellent rest stop along the Penobscot Mountain trail.

Few of Acadia National Park’s visitors venture up Penobscot Mountain—a hike offering some of Acadia’s most interesting terrain and sweeping panoramic views. While sections of the hike will challenge even experienced youngsters, the rewards and the grand sense of accomplishment are well worth the effort. The trail begins near the historic Jordan Pond House. Facing the house, walk behind the left side of the building to the trailhead marker. Follow the trail into the woods, almost immediately crossing the carriage trail. Take care when crossing, as this is a popular route for bicyclists (see Trip 15). The trail then crosses Jordan Stream via a small footbridge.

From this crossing onward, you leave the hustle and bustle of Jordan Pond House behind as you forge farther into the woods and up the mountain. Much of the terrain for the first 0.25 mile is comprised of stone stairs. At 0.5 mile, the trail reaches an intersection with Jordan Cliffs Trail. Here, continue to the left, up Penobscot Mountain Trail to another intersection with the carriage trail. (Again, take caution when crossing.) The trail picks up on the other side, via a trail marker that reads Spring Trail.

The Spring Trail section is the climb’s most interesting and most challenging. It begins as another set of stone stairs, then follows a narrow stone ledge flanked with a sheer rock face on one side and a drop-off on the other. There is a wooden guardrail protecting you from the drop-off, but children should proceed with extra caution and supervision. After crossing a wooden bridge, the rocky ledge continues briefly before bringing you to another interesting feature and the most difficult section of the hike by far—a slot between large boulders requiring a hand-over-hand scramble. Take your time and watch your footing as you squeeze your way through the rocks and up this short, steep section.

The trail soon opens to an impressive viewpoint with a stone makeshift bench and a stunning view—the perfect place to rest and refuel for the second half of the ascent. From here, the view of Jordan Pond is a sight to behold. Can children imagine the native Penobscot people, for whom the mountain is named, traveling across the pond in their birch-bark canoes? The Penobscots are one of two native peoples who lived in the Acadia region before European settlement.

After soaking in the views, continue climbing up the trail, which quickly rises above treeline. Follow cairns and blue blazes to stay on track as you travel up the open mountain face. The views get more and more spectacular as you climb: the mountain’s summit looms above; below, the Atlantic Ocean and its islands spread as far as the eye can see. After tagging the summit marker, 1.6 miles from the trailhead, take a few photos and revel in the sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing a challenging hike, then retrace your steps back down the mountain.

Plan B:

An alternate and much easier hike from this trailhead is Shore Trail, which circumnavigates the pond, following the water’s edge in a 3.3-mile loop. Signage near the parking area directs you to the trail. Jordan Pond itself has some of the most exceptionally clear water recorded in Maine. While swimming is not allowed, nonmotorized boats are. Launch a canoe or kayak via the Jordan Pond North parking lot, a short distance from the trailhead parking.

Where to Eat Nearby:

The historical and picturesque Jordan Pond House restaurant, overlooking Jordan Pond, has been serving the public since the 1870s and is the only full-service restaurant within Acadia National Park. The restaurant has a full menu, as well as stunning views of Penobscot Mountain and the Bubbles.


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