Contributed by Katie Levy of Adventure-Inspired
This summer, the Pocket Ranger blog featured information around why Maine, also known as “Vacationland,” is worth a visit and why every visit should include a trip to Acadia National Park. Then we covered why hiking one of the park’s scariest trails should also be on your to-do list, if you’re up for the challenge that is. While most of the trails and scenic spots that the oldest national park east of the Mississippi is known for sit on the eastern side of Mount Desert Island, there’s still plenty to see on the western side of the island including St. Sauveur Mountain.
On a trip to Acadia this summer, friends and I spent three days hiking and exploring as much of Mount Desert Island as we could. The first day’s hike took us up Dorr and Cadillac Mountains while we climbed the Beehive and Champlain Mountain on the second day. On the third day, we drove over to the western side of the island to explore a part of the park none of us had seen before.
Getting to the Acadia Mountain Trailhead
Our group spent the weekend at Blackwoods Campground, and to get to the trailhead, we took Route 3 west until it joined route 198, then took Route 102 south to the trailhead parking lot just south of Ikes Point along Echo Lake (44.321759, -68.332956). If you reach Southwest Harbor driving in from the north, you’ve gone too far. Though if you do make it into town, stop at the Quietside Café for ice cream!
Climbing Acadia Mountain
After parking in one of the last available parking spots around 10 a.m., we walked back up Route 102 to the start of the Acadia Mountain Trail. All trails in Acadia are blazed blue, which makes keeping track of your progress easy, and clear wooden signs are placed at every junction we found in the park.
As we started up the mountain, the trail steepened almost immediately, which we discovered was normal for trails up peak in Acadia. The trail wound through dense trees, across flat, exposed granite, and up granite faces with strategically placed steps. We climbed from 200 feet above sea level to the summit at 655 feet in approximately 3/4 miles, reaching the summit for stunning views of the Somes Sound, the Narrows, and Valley Cove.
Once you’re at the top, the trail down the eastern side of Acadia mountain drops all the way to sea level in a 1/2 mile; it’s quite steep, and I found myself sitting down to lower my body over rocks along parts of the route. But views of the Somes Sound the entire way down made it well worth the trip.
Climbing St. Sauveur Mountain
At that point, hikers have the option of heading back to the Acadia Mountain trailhead via a service road or picking up the Valley Peak Trail to extend the trip to the top of St. Sauveur Mountain, which is what we did. After dropping all the way down to sea level on the Acadia Mountain Trail, our group had to climb back up over 500 vertical feet along the Valley Peak Trail to reach the top of St. Sauveur Mountain.
Though the mountain’s summit doesn’t offer views to hikers, the entire Valley Peak Trail traverses cliff edges with beautiful views of the Somes Sound. After climbing through thick forest, exposed granite made up most of the rest of the trail to the top. We followed the much tamer, flatter St. Sauveur Mountain Trail back down over rock, beds of pine needles, and through dense stands of trees. The Valley Peak Trail joins the Acadia Mountain Trail after a little more than a mile, bringing hikers back down to Route 103 and the parking lot. Take a look at our entire route and timeline here.
Things to Know Before You Go
Bring some seriously sturdy hiking shoes with good traction. The trails in this article along with the majority of others we took on our trip to Acadia are steep, rocky, and without good traction, you’ll be in trouble quickly without reliable boots. Reconsider taking any of these trails in wet weather as they’ll be slippery. The parking lot at the base of the trail was full at 10 a.m., and we visited well after the high season. Make sure you arrive early, and investigate taking the free Island Explorer bus around Mount Desert Island as much as possible.
Have you been to Acadia National Park? Have you climbed Acadia Mountain or St. Sauveur Mountain? We’d love to hear from you!