1-Minute Hike: Parkman Mountain-Bald Peak Loop in Acadia National Park

By Sarnacki, Aislinn | Bangor Daily News (Bangor, ME), April 13, 2016 | Go to article overview

1-Minute Hike: Parkman Mountain-Bald Peak Loop in Acadia National Park


Sarnacki, Aislinn, Bangor Daily News (Bangor, ME)


Difficulty: Moderate-strenuous. The loop hike is little less than 3 miles and visits two mountain peaks that rise over 900 feet above sea level. The trails that form the route include some short, steep sections that require hand-over-foot climbing. You will need to lift your knees high and hold onto rocks with your hands on occassion. You also should expect to navigate over exposed tree roots and rocky terrain. Agile dogs that aren't afraid of jumping up rocks should be able to complete this hike.

How to get there: Drive onto Mount Desert Island on Route 3 (Bar Harbor Road). At the intersection after the causeway, veer right onto Route 198 and drive 4.3 miles; veer left onto Route 198-Route 3 and drive 4.1 miles and park in the small Norumbega Mountain parking area on your left, which is about 0.1 mile past the larger Parkman Mountain parking area, on the right.

The trailhead where you want to start is marked with a cedar post sign and is located across the road from the Norumbega Mountain parking area. The trailhead sign reads "Hadlock Brook Trail, Parkman Mtn., Sargent Mtn. & Pond, Penobscot Mtn. and Bald Peak." And, yes, you can start at this trailhead to reach all of these landmarks. The Acadia National Park trail system is vast -- that's why it is wise to carry a detailed trail map.

Information: Both rising over 900 feet above sea level, Parkman Mountain and Bald Peak stand side by side on Mount Desert Island, east of Somes Sound, and their summits are so close together that hikers usually visit both in one outing. Located in Acadia National Park, the mountains provide panoramic views of the stunning landscape of MDI and the nearby ocean.

Well-maintained park trails climb both mountains and span between their peaks, allowing for a loop hike that is a little less than 3 miles long.

Starting at the Norumbega Mountain parking area, carefully cross the busy Route 3 to reach the trailhead. The trail plunges into a beautiful shaded forest filled with balsam, cedar and spruce trees and soon meets an intersection, where you should turn left onto the Parkman Mountain Trail. From there, it's a 0.5-mile climb to the summit of Parkman Mountain.

As the trail gradually climbs the south ridge of the mountain, it crosses three historic carriage roads -- wide, scenic recreational paths used by walkers, bicyclists, horseback riders, runners, and, in the winter, skiers and snowshoers. Simply cross each carriage road and pick up the hiking trail on the opposite side.

The trail is marked with blue blazes that are painted on tree trunks in the forest. In the absence of trees, the blazes are painted on bedrock, and rock piles called cairns also are used to mark the trail. Acadia management asks that park visitors not tamper with cairns or build additional cairns, which could easily confuse hikers. The cairns are actually a specific design -- two base rocks holding up a table rock topped with a directional rock -- developed by Waldron Bates, who developed many of the original trails of Acadia in the early 1900s.

After crossing the three carriage roads, Parkman Mountain Trail becomes more open, crossing stretches of exposed granite. This is where the steepest sections of the trail are, including a granite slope where an iron rung has been strategically placed for hikers to use. (While I used this rung, my dog, Oreo, scrambled up the granite slope without using it. …

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