The lofty summit of Cadillac Mountain rises to 1,528 feet above sea level, making it not only the highest mountain in Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, but the highest point along the entire east coast of the United States. From early October to early March, the peak of Cadillac Mountain is the first place in the country to witness the sunrise.
A trip to top of this bare-topped, pink granite peak is a must for any visitor. From the pink granite summit rocks the grand panorama over Bar Harbor and across the expanse of Mount Desert Island with its myriad bays and islands beyond is truly awe-inspiring.
A variety of hiking trails reach the top, but most people opt simply to make the drive up the mountain via the scenic 3.5-mile Cadillac Mountain Road, which diverges from the Park Loop Road about 4 miles south of the Hulls Cove Visitor Center.
As the road rises up the mountainside views open up to Champlain and Dorr mountains to the east. At a pullout above the first hairpin turn, the vista turns to the west over Eagle Lake, Connors Nubble, and Sargent Mountain. After a second, longer hairpin turn there are sweeping views to the north over Eagle Lake to the mainland. Above, the road swings back to the east with lookouts over Bar Harbor to Frenchman Bay and Schoodic Peninsula beyond.
Cut granite stones line the drive now as you take in more scenes of Sargent and Pemetic mountains, and the Cranberry Isles. The Blue Hill Overlook – perhaps the best spot on the mountain to watch the sunset – is the last pullout a quarter-mile before the top.
The Cadillac Summit Center, on the right as you reach the top of mountain, has park information, a gift shop, snacks, and restrooms. Just ahead the curving drive leads to the large summit parking lot. Park the car and take a walk around to enjoy this amazing mountaintop. Be sure to bring your camera, and perhaps a sweater or windbreaker, as the open summit can be cool and windy, even in summer.
The Cadillac Summit Path begins to the right of the lot, and is accessed from several points along the sidewalk. This short, easy paved pathway yields panoramic vistas ranging from the village of Bar Harbor and the islands of Frenchman Bay to the Schoodic Peninsula and Winter Harbor across the bay to the east to the Cranberry Isles to the south. Waysides and viewing platforms with interpretive signs en route describe the views and some of the natural and human history of the park.
Hikers can trek to the summit of Cadillac Mountain via five different trails which approach the peak from all four compass directions. Choose from the short but steep Cadillac West Face Trail, a 1-mile hike, to the 3-mile long Cadillac South Ridge Trail. Other options include the Gorge Path, the Cadillac North Ridge Trail, and the A. Murray Young Path.
The Cadillac Mountain Road is not served by the Island Explorer shuttle bus.