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Gorham Mountain Hiking Guide – Acadia National Park

By Thomas Tash

Gorham Mountain Trail - Acadia National Park

Gorham Mountain Hiking Guide – Acadia National Park

May 12, 2023by Thomas Tash

Gorham Mountain is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Acadia National Park. The mountain’s elevation is 525 feet, and the trail is rated as moderate to strenuous, making it a great option for hikers of most skill levels.

Getting to the Gorham Mountain Trailhead

There are a couple options for getting to the Gorham Mountain trailhead, depending on your preference and mode of transportation.

If you’re driving, the easiest option is to park at the Gorham Mountain trailhead parking lot, which is located off of the Park Loop Road. The parking lot can fill up quickly, especially during peak season, so it’s recommended to arrive early to secure a spot. Additional parking can be found nearby at the Thunder Hole and Sand Beach parking lots, although these tend to be busier than Gorham Mountain, and require additional walking along the Ocean Path to the Gorham Mountain Trailhead.

If you’re staying in Bar Harbor, you can take the free Island Explorer bus #4 Loop Road Route to the Thunder Hole stop or Otter Cliff stop, which are both just a short walk from the trailhead. The Island Explorer bus system offers several routes throughout Acadia National Park and the surrounding communities, making it a convenient and eco-friendly option for getting around.

Hiking Gorham Mountain in Acadia National Park

The Gorham Mountain hiking trail begins with a gradual incline through a forest of pine and spruce trees. As you ascend, you’ll notice the trail becoming more rugged and rocky, with occasional steep sections that require some scrambling.

After about a mile of hiking, the trail opens up to a stunning panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding coastline. You’ll see miles of rugged coastline, dotted with islands, and the crashing waves of the ocean. This is a perfect spot to take a break and soak in the view before continuing the ascent.

The trail then becomes steeper, and you’ll need to use your hands to climb up some of the rocky sections. As you near the summit, the trail levels out, and you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of Acadia’s famous landscapes. From the top, you can see Cadillac Mountain, the Porcupine Islands, and Sand Beach below.

On the summit of Gorham Mountain, there are several rocky outcroppings that offer different vantage points to take in the views. This is a great spot to enjoy a picnic lunch or take some photos.

The descent back down the trail is easier than the ascent, but hikers should still use caution on the steep and rocky sections. The trail offers a different perspective on the way down, with views of Otter Cliffs and the Great Head Trail.

Gorham Mountain Hiking Trail Description

Per the National Park Service

  • The hike begins at the southwest corner of the Gorham Mountain parking lot. Look for a large stump with Gorham Mountain trail carved into it.
  • Follow the trail gradually up granite slab 0.2 miles until the trail intersects with Cadillac Cliff Trail. This is also where the Bates plaque resides. Continue left to remain on the Gorham Mountain loop hike.
    • To the right is the Cadillac Cliff trail. This 0.3 mile section goes along old sea cliffs. The trail does have rungs and ladders to assist hikers over rock scrambles. It finishes with a steep granite stair climb where it returns back to the Gorhman Mountain loop.
  • The trail begins to involve rocky uneven surfaces and it continues 0.3 miles until it meet up with the Cadillac Cliff trail again.
  • From this intersection the trail continues another 0.4 mile to the summit of Gorham Mountain. Be aware that a couple hundred feet from the summit is a false summit. Beautiful views but to continue the loop keep following the trail until you reach the summit marker.
  • Past the summit the trail descends down rocky terrain 0.5 miles until it reaches the Bowl trail. Head right on the bowl trail 0.5 miles where it will come out at the entrance to Sand Beach.
  • Cross the crosswalk safely and walk to the end of the upper Sand Beach parking lot. Here the Ocean Path trail will follow the coastline 0.7 miles to Thunder Hole.
  • Keep on the Ocean Path trail after Thunder Hole for another 0.3 miles. Be looking for a stump with Gorham Mountain carved into it. Cross the crosswalk safely to the Gorham Mountain parking lot to finish the hike.

Hiking Gorham Mountain is a great hike when visiting Acadia National Park. The trail offers stunning views of the coastline, and the challenging terrain provides a sense of accomplishment and adventure. Be sure to wear sturdy hiking shoes, bring plenty of water, and follow Leave No Trace principles to help preserve this beautiful wilderness area for future generations.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Gorham Mountain Trail:

How long does it take to hike the Gorham Mountain Trail?

The Gorham Mountain trail is 3.5 miles and takes about an hour and a half, up to 3 hours if you’re taking a more leisurely pace.

How high is Gorham Mountain and the Gorham Mountain Trail?

Gorham Mountain summit is 525 feet above sea-level, making it the 23rd tallest mountain in Acadia National Park. While this may feel unimpressive, the location of the mountain at the southeast corner of Mount Desert Island gives it some of the most impressive views of other popular points of interest such as The Beehive, Sand Beach, and Cadillac Mountain.

Is Gorham Mountain trail a dog-friendly hike?

Yes! Dogs are allowed on the Gorham Mountain Trail. As with any place in Acadia National Park, it’s important that your dog be on a leash, that you pack water for your pup, and that you think in the best interest of your pet’s ability and comfort level.

Related hikes and points of interest in Acadia National Park:

*Before embarking on any hike, you should always consult a map and stop by a visitor center or ranger station to ask a ranger about the latest trail conditions. Trail conditions can change rapidly due to weather or other factors, and park rangers can provide the most current information to ensure your hike is safe and enjoyable.

Thomas Tash

Tom Tash is the Founder and Co-Owner of Acadia East Campground and Pocket Parks Campgrounds. Tom began his career in Outdoor Recreation at the University of Maine at Machias before joining the City of Portland Recreation Department and becoming the Recreation Director for the Town of Bridgton. Tom became deeply invested in the national parks as the Marketing Director for a national park travel guide company. He co-founded Acadia East Campground in 2017/18.

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