QUICK TRAIL FACTS
- Preserve Size: 47,000 acres
- Trail Mileage: ~2-mile loop
- Pets: yes
- Difficulty: moderate
- Sights: Sand Beach, Acadia peaks, Newport Cove
For a fairly moderate hike, Great Head offers gorgeous views of the open ocean and the peaceful waters of Newport Cove lapping up against Sand Beach. (If you strain the beach sand between your fingers, you’ll see it’s made of colorful crushed shells, with a few bits of sea glass.) The knobby peaks of Bubble and Gorham Mountains form the backdrop. The hike is popular, so you might want to do it off-season, in spring, fall, or winter, or before 9 a.m. or after 4 p.m. in the summer.
While they are not technically difficult, the trails cross ledges and pass along rocky cliffs and over uneven forest floor. There’s a short, steep section rising up from Sand Beach, as well. The Appalachian Mountain Club recommends hiking it counterclockwise, perhaps for this reason. If you do the biggest possible loop here, the walk is roughly 2.5 miles.
At the highest point, you’ll find the remains of an old stone tower and teahouse! Maybe bring a thermos of tea in honor of an old tradition.
Directions: There are two places to park: the large lot behind Sand Beach, and a smaller lot off Schooner Head Road, slightly to the north of the trail system. If you park in the large lot behind Sand Beach you’ll head down to the beach. You’ll find a set of stairs at the far eastern end of the beach that will bring you to the Great Head loop trail. You’ll need a park pass to access this section of the park.