Time for some hiking! We planned a long traverse to be able to see a bunch of cool spots in one day. We started by driving over to the Precipice Trailhead early (7:30), grabbing the last spot in the small parking lot. The plan was to take the free shuttle back later.
The Precipice Trail up Champlain Mountain is a very steep trail with lots of rebar and ladders to get you up the cliffs. Sounded awesome to me. The beginning of it up some normal stairs was deceptive, but they did start with the warning signs right away.
The trail was just steep and rocky at first. When we came to the first set of rebar, it was a huge reach, actually the biggest reach of the whole trail. I think they put it that way as the first obstacle to get people who aren’t prepared to turn around. We kept going, of course, and soon started to see views of the ocean above the trees.
It just kept getting steeper and more fun.
After only .9 mile and about 900′ of elevation gain, we reached the summit of Champlain Mountain at 1058′. We had a snack while enjoying the beautiful views and then continued west on the Beachcroft Trail. It was very slabby as we headed back towards treeline, wooded as we rounded Huguenot Head, and farther down, some really amazing stonework made up the switchbacks down to Route 3.
We crossed Route 3 and picked up Kane Path around the Tarn. It was rocky but level and we got to check out a small turtle sunning itself and a large cormorant taking a nap. The cormorant poked its head out to glance at us, and then went right back to napping. I guess we weren’t a threat.
Once we reached the end of the Tarn, we started up the Ladder Trail towards Dorr Mountain. There was only one ladder and it was pretty much stairs the whole rest of the way. I couldn’t believe we were going to climb a mountain completely on stairs, as one passing hiker suggested. Once we switched onto the Schiff Path it did get slabbier towards the top.
We took the Dorr South Ridge Trail slightly south to reach the summit of Dorr Mountain at 1270′. There were just a few people there but we could see the hordes on Cadillac Mountain, where we were headed next.
Back at the junction we’d come from, we climbed down to the saddle between the two mountains and took the Gorge Path up Cadillac, with more and more people appearing the closer we got to the top. Getting over the ridge and seeing all the cars and people was a little jolting.
We visited the gift shop for bathrooms, then did manage to find a quiet spot to sit and eat our lunches. We couldn’t break for too long since we had the shuttle to reach by a certain time. I was already starting to think we’d need to skip some of the trails we planned since we weren’t moving as quickly as estimated so we came up with a backup plan. Then it was time to go and we found the summit at 1530′ (surprisingly, no sign) before hiking out the Cadillac South Ridge Trail, another slabby trail.
We turned off onto the Cadillac West Face Trail for more slabs, most of which we were walking across sideways. It started to be a bit of a strain on our ankles walking tilted like that for so long. This trail was definitely taking up even more of our time, so we came up with a third plan for ending the hike at a shuttle. Once we got down to Bubble Pond, we walked across the Park Loop Road and got on a carriage road to get us closer to Jordan Pond more quickly.
After about a mile, we turned back onto a hiking trail, the Jordan Pond Carry, which took us down to Jordan Pond. The trail was mostly level and dumped us out at Jordan Pond Path, which is a completely level gravel path around the pond and was completely covered with people. We went south to Jordan Pond House and the shuttle stop there after just over 9 miles of hiking.
We’d been planning to take the last shuttle of the day possible to make it back around the park to my car, but we actually were able to grab one a half hour earlier. It took us back up to the Hulls Cove Visitor Center to start a new route so we had to wait a little bit there, but then we were dropped off easily back at the Precipice Trailhead.
Once back at Blackwoods Campground, we quickly made dinner and then went off for more showers before that night’s ranger program: “Acadia Rocks!” with Ranger Kirk Lurvey. It was apparently voted the second best ranger program in the whole National Park System, with only the “lizard lady of Arches” beating him. It was a really entertaining program, with audience participation (mostly kids who were total hams) and lots of great knowledge. It also answered Caz’s frequent question while we’d been hiking on rocks the entire day – “Where’s the damn soil?” – There isn’t any.