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"Today, hikers can follow the footsteps of early settlers, American Indians, and outdoor   
enthusiasts of another era. Acadia's historic trails are still as challenging to present-
day hikers as to those of generations past, and their scenic values and ties
to the landscape evoke the same sense of awe experienced long ago."
~ from the Acadia National Park website re: historic hiking trails
According to the park website there are 125 miles of hiking trails within the park, ranging from short to longer and easy to strenuous. Trails can be combined in all sorts of combinations to satisfy every hiker's desires on any particular day.

With so many choices of trails and so few days to hike them, I had some difficulty choosing which ones would be the most fun and give me the best views.

Pretty little pool of water about halfway up the South Ridge Trail;
the summit of Cadillac Mtn. is to the right in the distance.

Since I'm always drawn to the highest mountain in any area I'm visiting, I picked climbing to the summit of Cadillac Mountain as my first hiking challenge.

There are several trails to the top. By examining the large relief map in the visitor center I could tell which one had the easiest grades on the descent (that's what hurts my Granny Knees, not steep ascents) -- the South Ridge Trail.

Here's a portion of the park map with the South Ridge Trail highlighted:

This trail is the longest out-and-back of all the trails to Cadillac's summit -- a total of seven miles. I added another half mile walking around the summit and the bedrock below it when I struck out alone on our third day in the area.

Hikers who can spot a second vehicle or who have someone available to pick them up at the end can choose several point-to-point routes up and over Cadillac Mountain. I was going alone so I went out and back.

Fall flowers in front of a lichen-covered rock

Dogs are allowed on all the park trails except the ones with ladders. For various reasons, including difficulty carrying enough water, I chose not to take either Cody or Casey with me on this hike. They got to go on one of my coastal hikes in the park with Jim. Most national parks don't allow dogs on the trails.

I loved this trail. By Maine standards, it's moderate despite its "strenuous" rating on the park website.

The main challenges are the rocks, rock steps, and roots in the first mile, interspersed with smooth granite bedrock:



There is also a metal hand-foot hold to get up a steep set of boulders near the top but you can detour around that like I did:


The grade wasn't very steep most of the way and the footing on the dry granite bedrock was usually pretty smooth. The granite would be slick when wet, however.  

The trailhead is on ME 3 near the Blackwoods Campground in the southeastern part of the park. When I started hiking at 7:45 AM on Friday only one other vehicle was parked along the side of the road.

That hiker started a little before me and, to my surprise, was the only one I saw going up in two hours on the way to the summit. I stopped so often to look at the ocean views behind me, and took so many photos, that I figured a bunch of people would pass me on the ascent. While I was hiking up three runners passed me going down.

Two people who passed me going back down the mountain

I saw plenty of people the 45 minutes I was wandering around the summit. I began my descent about 10:30 and counted 39 people going up in the 3 miles back down to the trailhead! I'm glad I got started early so I didn't have to deal with so many other hikers or have them in my pictures.

The first mile is mostly forested; the trees and terrain reminded me of the second quarter of the hike up Pike's Peak in Colorado.

The trail is marked with blue blazes and rock cairns.

After a mile I was on an increasing amount of exposed bedrock with fewer, shorter trees and low shrubs.

I also came to a short loop trail called Eagles Crag; I followed that back to the main trail:



The higher I went, the better the views back down to the ocean and islands below me. I often turned around on the way up the mountain and had trouble keeping my eyes on the trail when I was descending -- so much to see!

I never truly got above timberline even at the 1,530-foot summit but the trees and shrubs were low and sparse enough that it felt like being above tree line the last two miles.

Heading up

Early glimpse of the ocean

The trail goes in and out of trees in the second mile.

Much of the route over bedrock is marked with distinctive Acadian-style Bates Cairns, named after Waldron Bates, who built many of the park trails in the early 1900s:

There is a lower peak on the south shoulder of Cadillac Mountain about two miles into the hike. This was one of my favorite parts of the trail:



This is also where I took the photo at the top of this entry with the pretty little pool of water. It was the first place where I could see the upper part of the mountain and the summit.

From this shorter peak the trail descends into a shady saddle with a little pond:


Photos continued on the next page . . .

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2014 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil