(Very Easy hiking, 2.1 miles one-way)
This spectacular walk over a finely-graveled pathway leads along the eastern shore of Mt. Desert Island from Sand Beach to Otter Cliff, paralleling the Park Loop Road and offering near-continuous ocean and mountain views along the way.
The start of the Ocean Path at Sand Beach is reached via the Park Loop Road, a half-mile south of the Sand Beach Entrance Station and 6 miles from its junction with the two-way Park Loop Road. Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, and Otter Cliff are served by the Island Explorer bus service.
From the lower end of the upper parking lot at Sand Beach, just beyond the restrooms, changing rooms, and bus shelter, take the paved walkway toward the beach. Where the steps descend left down to the beach, bear right to start the Ocean Path.
The path goes behind the restrooms and trends easily uphill for short distance to reach a small parking area. Bear left here and continue past a trail sign on the foot path. Ahead, the trail rises to meet the Park Loop Road on your right.
From here, head south on the path and soon you’ll be taking in fine views of Sand Beach and the colorful crowds of visitors enjoying the sand and surf. The mound of Great Head rises just beyond, and Old Soaker, a dark, seaweed-covered ledge out in the waters of Newport Cove and a popular spot with squawking gulls and other shorebirds, comes into view. Don’t mind the cars and traffic on Park Loop Road on your right, but rather stay focused on the refreshing salt air and the incredible ocean views to your left.
Halfway along you’ll come to the famous Thunder Hole, a narrow cleft in the pink granite cliffs. Stairs wind down to several viewing platforms, enclosed by shiny safety railings. When the weather and tides are just right, the pounding surf ferociously rushes into the chasm and forces out the air from the concave space of the hole beneath the cliffs. This powerful action creates a thundering boom like no other sound in nature, and the resulting waves can splash as high as 40 feet. It’s an amazing sight and a thrilling experience. A gift shop and restrooms are nearby across the Park Loop Road.
Continuing on, the Ocean Path passes the sea stacks and cobblestones of Monument Cove, and soon the dramatic walls of Otter Cliffs come into focus. Before long you are walking right along the top of the cliffs with lots of opportunities to step out onto the rocks to drink in the ocean views. The vista north along Ocean Drive and the colorful shoreline cliffs is amazing. Gorham Mountain and The Beehive rise prominently beyond. Sand Beach and Great Head round out the amazing view.
The trail winds through the evergreen woods above the spectacular cliffs to end at Otter Point just below the Park Loop Road and a scenic overlook and parking lot.
Visitor Resources: Hiking and Climbing in Maine | Maine Trail Finder | Bar Island | The Beehive | Ship Harbor Nature Trail | Wonderland Trail | The Bowl Trail | Beehive Trail Hike Beech Mountain | Bubble Rock Trail | Cadillac Mountain | Cadillac Mountain North Ridge Trail | Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trai | Cadillac Summit Path | Champlain Mountail Beechcroft Trail | Champlain North Ridge Trail | DownEast Lakes Trust Trail | Gorham Montain Trail | Great Head Trail | Jordan Pond Nature Trail | Mansell Mountain Trail | Ocean Path Trail | Pemetic North Ridge Trail | Precipice Trail