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Penobscot Mountain Hiking Guide – Acadia National Park

By Thomas Tash

penobscot mountain

Penobscot Mountain Hiking Guide – Acadia National Park

February 1, 2024by Thomas Tash

Hiking Penobscot Mountain: Your Ultimate Guide to Exploring One of Acadia National Park’s Hidden Gems

Acadia National Park, located on Mount Desert Island in Maine, is a treasure trove of scenic beauty and outdoor adventure. Among its numerous peaks, Penobscot Mountain stands out for its panoramic views, diverse trails, and relative tranquility. This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about hiking Penobscot Mountain, including trail options, highlights, essential preparation tips, parking details, and more.

Getting to Penobscot Mountain

Penobscot Mountain is situated in the central part of Mount Desert Island, near the popular Jordan Pond. The mountain offers various trailheads, making it accessible from multiple starting points.

Parking Details:

  • Jordan Pond House Parking Area: This is the most convenient parking area for accessing Penobscot Mountain. The lot can become crowded quickly, especially during peak season. Arriving early in the morning is recommended to secure a spot.

Trail Options

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

1. Penobscot Mountain Trail

The Penobscot Mountain Trail is the most direct route to the summit. Starting from the Jordan Pond House, this 3.4-mile round-trip trail features a moderate ascent through forests and over rocky ledges. The trail offers stunning views of Jordan Pond, the surrounding mountains, and the Atlantic Ocean.

2. Spring Trail

The Spring Trail is a longer route that also begins at the Jordan Pond House. This 4-mile round-trip trail winds through dense forests and along picturesque streams before ascending to the summit of Penobscot Mountain. It provides a peaceful hiking experience with beautiful scenery along the way.

3. Razorback Trail

For those seeking a more challenging hike, the Razorback Trail offers a steep ascent with some rock scrambling. Starting near the Bubble Pond parking area, this 3.8-mile round-trip trail climbs sharply up the northern side of Penobscot Mountain, offering dramatic views and a more secluded hiking experience.

4. Jordan Pond Carry Trail

The Jordan Pond Carry Trail is a scenic route that combines a lakeside walk with a moderate climb to Penobscot Mountain. This 4.2-mile round-trip trail begins at the Jordan Pond House and follows the shoreline of Jordan Pond before ascending through forests to the summit.

What to Expect on the Trails

Hiking Penobscot Mountain 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 1,194 feet, making it a moderate to challenging hike suitable for most fitness levels.
  • Views: Penobscot Mountain offers panoramic views of Mount Desert Island, including Jordan Pond, the surrounding mountains, and the Atlantic Ocean. On clear days, you can see the Cranberry Isles and even 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 occasionally, moose.

Best Time to Hike Penobscot Mountain

The best time to hike Penobscot Mountain 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 Penobscot 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

Penobscot Mountain offers numerous scenic points and highlights that make the hike truly special:

  • The Summit: The summit of Penobscot Mountain 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.
  • Jordan Pond: From various points along the trails, enjoy stunning views of the crystal-clear waters of Jordan Pond, flanked by the iconic North and South Bubble Mountains.
  • Wildlife: Keep an eye out for wildlife along the trails, including deer, birds, and other woodland creatures. The diverse habitats around Penobscot Mountain support a variety of species.

Nearby Attractions

While Penobscot Mountain is a highlight in itself, there are several nearby attractions worth exploring:

  • Jordan Pond House: Famous for its popovers and tea, the Jordan Pond House is a great place to relax and enjoy a meal after your hike. The outdoor seating offers beautiful views of Jordan Pond and the Bubble Mountains.
  • 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 Jordan Pond area and provide a unique perspective on the park’s landscapes.
  • Bubble Rock: A large glacial erratic perched precariously on the edge of South Bubble Mountain, providing another excellent hiking destination nearby.

Frequently Asked Questions About Penobscot Mountain

Where to park when hiking Penobscot Mountain?

  • The closest parking areas to Penobscot Mountain are the Jordan Pond House parking area and the Bubble Pond parking area.

What is the best time to hike Penobscot Mountain?

  • The best time to hike Penobscot Mountain 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 Penobscot Mountain?

  • Yes! One of the main Island Explorer shuttle stops is located at the Jordan Pond House, just a short walk from several trailheads leading to Penobscot Mountain.

Can I bring my dog on the Penobscot Mountain 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 Penobscot Mountain?

  • Yes, children can hike Penobscot Mountain, 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 Penobscot Mountain?

  • The Penobscot Mountain Trail is a 3.4-mile round trip, the Spring Trail is a 4-mile round trip, the Razorback Trail is a 3.8-mile round trip, and the Jordan Pond Carry Trail is a 4.2-mile round trip. Hiking times can vary depending on pace and trail conditions.

Ready to explore Penobscot Mountain? 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.

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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