(Strenuous hiking, 3.5 miles one-way)
The long, broad and mostly bare south ridge of Cadillac Mountain rises gradually for much of its three-mile length, offering hikers not only spectacular views in all directions, but relatively easy walking as well.
The start of the Cadillac South Ridge Trail is found on the north side of Route 3 just 150 feet west of the entrance to Blackwoods Campground in Acadia National Park, and about 5 1/2 miles south of Bar Harbor. Parking is alongside the road at a gravel pull-off.
The Cadillac South Ridge Trail meanders along for 3 1/2 delightful miles to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, at 1,528 feet in elevation. It is the highest peak in Acadia National Park, and the highest point on the east coast of the United States.
From the trailhead, the path climbs easily through the pine and spruce woods to before emerging from the trees. A mile into the walk, a short side trail loops around to a rocky outlook known as Eagle Crag, where there are nice views of Otter Creek and the Atlantic Ocean. Ahead, the main trail passes the upper end of the spur trail to Eagles Crag and continues northward toward the summit of Cadillac Mountain.
At about two miles from the road, the trail passes through a boggy depression called The Featherbed, one of the highest wetlands in Acadia National Park. It is here that the trail intersects the Canon Brook Trail. To the east, Canon Brook Trail leads into the pretty valley between Cadillac Mountain and Dorr Mountain and the headwaters of Otter Creek before winding around and out to Route 3 just south of The Tarn. To the west, Canon Brook Trail descends steeply toward Pemetic Mountain and into the valley that holds Bubble Pond.
Beyond the junction the trail gains about 500 feet before topping out on the summit of Cadillac Mountain. En route the trail passes the Cadillac West Face Trail on the left, and soon after, the final switchback of the Cadillac Mountain Road, a 3.5-mile auto road that winds up the mountain from the Park Loop Road.
East of the summit parking lot and the gift shop is where you’ll find the Cadillac Mountain Summit Path, a short loop walk with interpretive signs along the way that describe the many fine views all around you as well as some of the natural and human history of Acadia National Park.
To return to your car, retrace your steps along the Cadillac South Ridge Trail.