Posted on June 18, 2021 and last updated on July 07, 2022

Parkman, Bald Peak, Sargent, Gilmore Peak, Cedar Swamp, and Penobscot Mountains, Acadia National Park

QUICK TRAIL FACTS

  • Preserve Size: 47,000 acres
  • Trail Mileage: Varies
  • Pets: yes
  • Difficulty: moderate to challenging
  • Sights: outstanding panoramic views

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The six peaks between Route 3 and Jordan Pond are all spectacular and connected via a dense network of trails that range from moderate to advanced. So you can plan a route here that is easier or harder, and which encompasses as many of the summits as you have the time and energy for. They all have tremendous views.

Like I’ve mentioned in other posts about Acadia, I recommend that as much as you can, plan your route so you’re walking the ridge trails in the direction of the sea. It’s magical to hike on the park’s high, rocky hills with the ocean shining below you. In this area, my two favorite trails for sea views are Sargent South Ridge Trail and Penobscot Mountain Trail. These trails traverse exposed ridges with views in every direction.

A nice spot to include in your hike itinerary here is Sargent Pond, a little pool sunk between Penobscot and Sargent Mountains, about 0.3 miles north of Penobscot Mountain’s summit on the Penobscot Mountain Trail headed toward Sargent Mountain. The day we visited, there were so many dragonflies skimming the water surface that they were landing on our knees, hands, guidebook, and hats.

If you’d like to avoid any of the trail sections labeled advanced, you should stick to the outer trails that swing wide around the mountains and up to their summits. These trails include Parkman Mountain Trail, Sargent Northwest Trail, Sargent South Ridge Trail, Penobscot Mountain Trail, and the Asticou-Jordan Pond Path.

But of course, you can do shorter loops if you don’t mind a steep ascent or descent. You also have the option of returning to your trailhead on any of the carriage roads, if they intersect with your trail. These are always easy, albeit hilly!

Of all the trails in this region, I found the Giant Slide to be the most difficult. Part of the trail follows a stream, and as the name implies, a rock slide. So you’re clambering over big rocks while navigating a stream. While it is fun — at one point, for example, you have to crawl or slouch your way through a short ice cave with ice that lingers well into spring, and at another you have to squeeze through a small opening between boulders — it can be a bit tricky footing in sections.

Note: the Asticou-Jordan Pond Path emerges on its east end at the Asticou Map House (a little shelter with laminated park maps). If you take a right here onto Gatehouse Road, you’ll walk out to Route 3. Just 25 feet or so to your right across Route 3 is the trail leading to the Hadlock Ponds trail. It helps to follow some kind of phone map, like Strava or AllTrails (I use Avenza with the Nationanl Geographic map of the park), so you can feel confident you’re making the right turns.

Directions: There are four designated parking areas off Route 3, as well as at Jordan Pond and below the Bubbles off the Park Loop Road. There’s lots of room to park on the wide shoulders of Route 3 near the Giant Slide trailhead.

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