QUICK TRAIL FACTS
- Preserve Size: 47,000 acres
- Trail Mileage: ~12.5 miles in network
- Pets: yes
- Difficulty: moderate to challenging
- Sights: ocean views, ocean ledges, Long Pond
Western Mountain includes two main peaks: Bernard Mountain (1,010 ft.) and Mansell Mountain (938 ft.). The mountain, being on the “quiet” side of Mt. Desert Island and without the absolutely incredible views and open summits of some of the other peaks, supposedly attracts fewer visitors. But don’t expect to find an oasis of calm on a summer day — there are still plenty of people. Also, the views are really good! It’s just easy to get spoiled by the beauty elsewhere in the park.
The other thing: the mountain rises up over Long Pond, which has a path along its western shore. I highly recommend hikers incorporate this part of the trail system into their itinerary. The path swings around to form a loop back over Bernard and Mansell. It’s flat and smooth (albeit not wheelchair accessible the whole way), and winds through cedar trees and along the rockfall of Mansell Mountain. You can’t swim in Long Pond, by the way.
Of all the trails here, the 1.1-mile West Ledge Trail might be the most magnificent, as at about the half-mile mark, you begin to traverse a series of beautiful open ledges on your way up Bald and Bernard Mountains. The 0.8-mile Mansell Mountain Trail and 0.7-mile Razorback Trail also have nice views going up and down. Bernard Mountain offers an overlook with views, but its summit has no views. Mansell Mountain’s summit, too, is wooded and viewless. But there are nearby overlooks. The 0.9-mile Perpendicular Trail up Mansell Mountain, while steep, is kind of fun because it has, supposedly, more than 1,000 stone steps. Its nickname is stairway to heaven! But don’t be blinded by the heavenly light! Turn around a few times to check out the view of the pond below. Important: Perpendicular Trail is not open to dogs.
The greatest perk about choosing this part of the park for your hike is the parking is really easy and there are lots of options. At every trailhead, you can leave a car. While some of the parking areas are bigger than others (West Ledge Trail, for instance, is quite small), but my guess is they rarely get filled, at least if you get there before 9:30 am! Also, some of them require driving slowly down the narrow dirt roads through the parkland forest — but I found this a nice part of the experience.
Directions: You can park at every trailhead for Western Mountain, although some have more space than others. The most popular parking area is next to Long Pond, at the end of Long Pond Road, but you can also drive into the park forest, down its narrow unpaved roads, and park at any of the six trailheads.