Posted on May 30, 2023 and last updated on May 31, 2023

Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park


  • Preserve Size: 47,000 acres
  • Trail Mileage: Many possibilities!
  • Pets: yes
  • Difficulty: moderate to challenging
  • Sights: Beautiful views

Map displays the peaks of Cadillac, Dorr, and Kebo, along with Eagles Crag (the red pins mark their summits).

The highest peak in Acadia National Park at 1,528 feet, Cadillac Mountain offers numerous ways of summiting (including driving up, if you’re so inclined!) and a long, open ridge line with stunning views. The summit has short, wheelchair accessible paths from the parking lot, as well as a spectacular 0.5-mile loop trail.

If you hike up the north or south ridge, expect a moderate hike that is — compared to other ascents in the park — quite gentle. The 2.2-mile Cadillac North Ridge Trail offers beautiful views much of the way. At times, you’ll be hiking through “stunted softwoods,” as the AMC Mountain Guide describes them, with lots of charming pitch pines.

The Cadillac South Ridge Trail brings you down a gradual slope toward the glistening sea — it’s wonderful. From the summit to Route 3, it’s about 3.5 miles. You can stop at mile two and check out the view from Eagle Crag on your left.

Another popular way up Cadillac Mountain is hiking up and over Dorr Mountain — with the added benefit of summiting two peaks. This can also be the shortest and most direct path. Starting from Route 3 (from either of the roadside lots south of The Tarn), the quickest and maybe most entertaining route up is via the Ladder Trail. It has several ladders of iron rungs and at least one pass through a rock fissure. But it is very steep, like all the trails on the east side of Dorr. From the Ladder Trail to Dorr Mountain summit, it’s just about 1 mile. From Dorr, it’s a steep down and up on the Gorge Path for 0.4 miles to reach Cadillac Mountain’s summit

The other alternatives on the east side of Dorr include Emery Path, Homans Path, and Diederich’s Climb to Schiff Path, which all start from Sieur De Monts, where you can leave your car year-round. These four trails, which hug the side of Dorr, are wonderful destinations in their own right, with views from relatively low elevations. They have many stone steps, and Homans and Emery have other interesting stonework features, like narrow passageways between boulders. They’ll bring you to the summit of Dorr in 1 mile to 1.5 miles, depending on your route. The dip down and up between Dorr and Cadillac peaks, if you’re walking west, is about 0.4 miles. 

Alternatively, you could start on Route 3 and walk the 2-mile Canon Brook Trail to Cadillac South Ridge Trail. The advantage of this is the lovely brook, which slides over ledge and offers at least one deep pool for contemplating a dip and a small but deep gorge. The path starts out flat along The Gorge, and then becomes steeper after passing the intersections with Dorr South Ridge Trail and the A. Murray Young Path. It then levels out to a more gradual climb up to the Cadillac Mountain ridge line. From here, continue up Cadillac South Ridge Trail for another 1.2 miles to the summit.

You can also climb Cadillac from the west. If you leave your car at the small parking lot at the north end of Bubble Pond, you can attempt the most difficult ascent up the mountain on the 0.9-mile West Face Trail. Expect steep climbs over rockfall and sections of smooth, steep ledge. When you get to the ridge, it’s another half mile to Cadillac’s summit. You can avoid West Face by walking south along the Carriage Road for about one mile and heading up Bubble and Jordan Ponds Path (0.7 miles), which is also very steep! When you reach the ridge, you can take a rest at the small pond called The Featherbed. From this point, continue up Cadillac South Ridge Trail for another 1.2 miles to reach the summit.

From the west, you could also conceivably park at Jordan Pond, which is accessible year-round, and hike the 2.5-mile Bubble and Jordan Ponds Path to the Cadillac South Ridge Trail.

Directions: There are several places to pick up the trails to Cadillac Mountain and leave a car — some are only accessible when the Park Loop Road is open, between April and December. When the road is open, you can leave a car at the North Ridge trailhead. In the winter, park at the park gate off Route 233, about a mile west of the intersection of Route 233 and Route 3. This area will be on your right as you’re leaving town. Then you need to hike along the Carriage Road to the footpath. During the April-December window, you can park at the small parking area at the base of Cadillac West Face Trail, at Bubble Pond Bridge. For year-round parking, you can leave a car at Sieur du Monts, and pick up the trails that head over Dorr Mountain on their way to Cadillac’s summit. You can also park year-round on the shoulder of Route 3 at the trailhead for Cadillac South Ridge Trail — there is lots of space here. There are two big shoulder lots off Route 3 just south of The Tarn. Finally, you can park a car year-round at Jordan Pond House, accessible via the Park Loop Road.

Let me know if you have any trail updates or corrections!