QUICK TRAIL FACTS
- Preserve Size: ~400 acres
- Trail Mileage: 1.3 miles one way
- Pets: yes
- Difficulty: moderate
- Sights: cobblestone beach, cliff views
This breathtaking trail includes a cobblestone beach and views from a high cliff edge. It’s part of the Hunters Cliffs Natural Lands, a preserve cared for by the wondrous Mt. Desert Island Land & Garden Preserve, which protects 1,400 acres on the southern edge of the island abutting the national park. The Garden Preserve trails merge seamlessly with the sprawling park trail system.
If you want to appreciate the views without a crowd, it’s best to avoid tourist season, or get here early or late in the day. (Bonus: gorgeous light at dawn or dusk.) The two parking areas on the 1.3-mile trail’s two ends (beginnings) are relatively small (although the one right off Route 3 is bigger, with room for 10 or so cars).
We parked at the three-car lot off Cooksey Drive to walk down the wide 0.3-mile path. You’ll emerge at a point where a sweet water stream cuts across the cobblestone beach to meet the sea. Look for the narrow cliff trail heading off to the west behind the beach—it’ll be to your right if you’re facing the ocean.
It continues about 0.3 miles before reaching a short loop. Go left to check out the fabulous views from an open ledge. You can either return down the short leg the way you came, back to the main path, or scramble over some rocks to complete the very small loop. Continue along ledge to the Route 3 parking lot or return the way you came. You could also walk back along Cooksey Drive.
From the Route 3 parking lot, the Hunters Cliff Trail connects to the Day Mountain trail if you want to do a longer hike.
Directions: There are two trailheads with parking: One for Day Mountain and Hunters Cliff off Route 3—500 feet east of Rock Garden Drive—that has room for 8-10 cars, and another smaller lot with room for three cars off Cooksey Drive.