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Bald Peak Hiking Guide – Acadia National Park

By Thomas Tash

bald peak

Bald Peak Hiking Guide – Acadia National Park

December 15, 2023by Thomas Tash

Hiking Bald Peak: Your Complete Guide to Acadia National Park’s Scenic Summit

Acadia National Park, located on Maine’s Mount Desert Island, is famous for its rugged landscapes, diverse flora and fauna, and extensive hiking trails. Among its numerous peaks, Bald Peak offers hikers a unique and rewarding experience with its panoramic views, varied terrain, and relative tranquility compared to more popular trails. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about hiking Bald Peak, including trail options, highlights, essential preparation tips, parking details, and more.

Getting to Bald Peak

Bald Peak is situated in the northern part of Mount Desert Island, near the village of Northeast Harbor. The mountain offers multiple trailheads, making it accessible from various points within the park.

Parking Details:

  • Parkman Mountain Parking Area: Located off Route 3, this parking area is the most convenient starting point for accessing the mountain. The lot can fill up quickly during peak seasons, so it is advisable to arrive early in the morning to secure a spot.
  • Upper Hadlock Pond Parking Area: Another option is the Upper Hadlock Pond parking area, which provides access to several trails leading to the mountain. This lot is generally less crowded than the Parkman Mountain Parking Area.

Trail Options

Bald Peak offers several trails, each providing unique experiences and varying levels of difficulty. Here are the primary trails you can choose from:

1. Bald Peak Trail

The Bald Peak Trail is the most direct route to the summit. Starting from the Parkman Mountain Parking Area, this 2.4-mile round-trip trail features a moderate to strenuous ascent through forests and over rocky ledges. The trail offers stunning views of the surrounding landscapes, including the Atlantic Ocean and the nearby mountains.

2. Grandgent Trail

The Grandgent Trail is a longer and more challenging route that also begins at the Parkman Mountain Parking Area. This 3.4-mile round-trip trail winds through dense forests, along picturesque streams, and over rugged terrain before ascending to the summit of Bald Peak. It provides a peaceful hiking experience with beautiful scenery along the way.

3. Hadlock Brook Trail

For those seeking a less strenuous hike, the Hadlock Brook Trail offers a gentle climb to the summit. Starting near the Upper Hadlock Pond parking area, this 3.1-mile round-trip trail follows the scenic Hadlock Brook, featuring lush vegetation and tranquil water views.

4. Bald Peak Loop Trail

The Bald Peak Loop Trail is a scenic and moderately challenging route that combines several trails to form a loop around the mountain. Starting from the Parkman Mountain Parking Area, this 4.2-mile loop provides diverse landscapes, including forested paths, rocky scrambles, and open ledges with panoramic views.

What to Expect on the Trails

Hiking Bald Peak offers a mix of terrains, including forested paths, rocky scrambles, and open ledges. Here’s what you can expect on your hike:

  • Elevation Gain: The elevation gain to the summit is approximately 974 feet, making it a moderate hike suitable for most fitness levels.
  • Views: Bald Peak offers panoramic views of Mount Desert Island, including the Atlantic Ocean, the surrounding mountains, and the lush forests. On clear days, you can see the Cranberry Isles and parts of the mainland.
  • Flora and Fauna: The trails are surrounded by diverse vegetation, including spruce and fir forests, wildflowers, and moss-covered rocks. Wildlife sightings are common, with opportunities to see birds, deer, and other woodland creatures.

Best Time to Hike Bald Peak

The best time to hike Bald Peak is from late spring to early fall. During this period, the weather is mild, and the trails are generally in good condition. Fall offers the added bonus of stunning foliage, with vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows creating a picturesque backdrop. Summer can be busy, so consider an early morning or late afternoon hike to avoid the crowds and enjoy cooler temperatures.

Preparation and Safety Tips

Proper preparation is essential for a safe and enjoyable hike on the mountain. Here are some tips to help you get ready:

  • Footwear: Wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots with good traction. The trails can be rocky and uneven, so proper footwear is crucial.
  • Clothing: Dress in layers to accommodate changing weather conditions. A moisture-wicking base layer, insulating mid-layer, and waterproof outer layer are recommended.
  • Water and Snacks: Bring plenty of water and high-energy snacks. Hydration is key, especially during warmer months.
  • Trail Map and Navigation: Carry a trail map or download a GPS app with offline maps. Cell service can be spotty in the park.
  • Safety Gear: A first aid kit, headlamp, and multi-tool are essential items for any hike.
  • Leave No Trace: Follow Leave No Trace principles by packing out all trash, staying on designated trails, and respecting wildlife.

Highlights and Scenic Points

Bald Peak offers numerous scenic points and highlights that make the hike truly special:

  • The Summit: The summit of Bald Peak provides panoramic vistas of the Atlantic Ocean, the Cranberry Isles, and the surrounding landscape. It’s an ideal spot for a well-deserved break and photo opportunity.
  • Hadlock Brook: The Hadlock Brook Trail features beautiful water views and lush vegetation, providing a serene and picturesque hiking experience.
  • Wildlife: Keep an eye out for wildlife along the trails, including deer, birds, and other woodland creatures. The diverse habitats around the mountain support a variety of species.

Nearby Attractions

While Bald Peak is a highlight in itself, there are several nearby attractions worth exploring:

  • Upper Hadlock Pond: This tranquil pond offers beautiful views and is a great spot for a picnic or a relaxing break after your hike.
  • Carriage Roads: Acadia’s historic carriage roads offer miles of scenic, car-free pathways perfect for walking, biking, or horseback riding. The roads are easily accessible from the Bald Peak area and provide a unique perspective on the park’s landscapes.
  • Northeast Harbor: This charming village offers additional hiking opportunities, quaint shops, and beautiful coastal views. It’s a great place to explore before or after your hike.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bald Peak

Where to park when hiking Bald Peak?

  • Theclosest parking areas to Bald Peak are the Parkman Mountain Parking Area and the Upper Hadlock Pond Parking Area.

What is the best time to hike Bald Peak?

  • The best time to hike Bald Peak is in the morning before 9 AM or in the late afternoon/evening. Parking is limited at most popular attractions in Acadia National Park, and these trailhead areas can become quite busy.

Can I take the free Island Explorer Shuttle to hike Bald Peak?

  • Yes! The Island Explorer shuttle service can be a convenient way to reach the trailheads, helping you avoid parking difficulties during peak times.

Can I bring my dog on the Bald Peak trails?

  • Dogs are allowed on certain trails in Acadia National Park, but it is always best to check specific trail regulations and ensure that your pet is leashed at all times.

Are kids allowed to hike Bald Peak?

  • Yes, children can hike Bald Peak, but it is important to consider the trail difficulty and the hiking experience of your children. Always supervise young hikers closely, especially on more challenging sections.

How long are the trails on Bald Peak?

  • The Bald Peak Trail is a 2.4-mile round trip, the Grandgent Trail is a 3.4-mile round trip, the Hadlock Brook Trail is a 3.1-mile round trip, and the Bald Peak Loop Trail is a 4.2-mile loop. Hiking times can vary depending on pace and trail conditions.

Ready to explore Bald Peak? Buy your Acadia National Park Pass here and start planning your next adventure.

*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.

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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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