Eastern Traverse in Acadia National Park: Fall in Love with Hiking Again
Eastern Traverse Day Hike in Acadia National Park
There are over 125 miles of hiking trails in Acadia National Park, Maine. Most are around 5 miles in length, but it is easy to string together several intersecting trails to create a longer day hike. The Eastern Traverse is a mix of trails (listed below + Gaia GPS map/coordinates) memorable for the diversity of landscapes you will encounter: soft sand, hand-over-hand cliff climbs, boulder scrambles, ridge walks, waterfall ascents, knee-busting descents along flat-faced escarpments, pine barren flats, marshland and dense-forest mossy glens. This is not your average monotonous “walk in the woods”!
The Eastern Traverse begins at the Sandy Beach, accessible by the Island Explorer bus.
Sandy Beach: Cold ocean waves crash on Acadia’s only sandy beach in Newport Cove. The trail to Great Head is across a small water inlet. If rain or high tide prevent a safe crossing, you can access the Great Head trail by following the footpath at the Sandy Beach parking lot and walking half a mile up the paved road.
Great Head Trail: Easy 1.6 mile loop along the Atlantic sea cliffs on this pine-covered peninsula, with views of Sandy Beach on the western side and Egg Rock lighthouse on the eastern side. Watch for rock climbers popping up from the seaside along the cliff ledges. :-)
The Beehive Trail: Return to the Sandy Beach parking lot and cross the street to begin the ascent of the Beehive, a 520 foot hill with a glacier-sculpted honeycomb eastern wall. Put your hiking stick away, ‘cause you’ll climb hand-over-hand up a nearly vertical 1.8 mile trail to the top of the bluff with killer views across the Gulf of Maine. Fantastic!!
The Bowl Trail: At the top of the Beehive, follow the 1.3 mile Bowl Trail to one of only two mountain-top ponds in the park. The Bowl is a quiet, relatively remote stream-fed pond settled in a glacial cirque on Mount Champlain. Skirt the southern edge of the pond to the Champlain Mountain trail.
Champlain Mountain Trail: Hike 2.2 miles along the barren south ridge of Champlain Mountain, following the stone cairns. From this vantage point, you’ll see miles out to sea and encounter tiny pristine “japanese” gardens scattered across the nearly-bald summit.
Beachcroft Trail: Steep 2.4 mile descent down Mt. Champlain over slopes of flat-faced granite and then through a maze of giant pink boulders. You will come out at Tarn pond.
Kane Path: Follow the Kane path along Tarn pond and into the pine barrens for 1.7 miles. A boardwalk keeps you from sinking into the squishy bog.
Canon Brook Trail: This 3.7 mile hidden trail has a bunch of stream crossings and a lot of water! Magnificent waterfalls cascade around you as you skirt around Dorr Mountain and partially ascend Cadillac’s South Ridge. On the other side of the small hill, pick your way carefully down the slippery rocks and use the hand rails.
Bubble and Jordon Pond Paths: A final jaunt through moss-covered fairy glens takes you to Jordon Pond, where you can celebrate with a nice glass of Prosecco and a warm popover.
For the jaded hiker weary of monotonous walks through unchanging woods, the Eastern Traverse puts the spark back into trekking. Hiking the Eastern Traverse was the capstone of an active vacation in Maine’s Acadia National Park in the United States. Confined to mainly 42 square miles on Mount Desert Island, Acadia makes up for its small size by offering visitors an unparalleled breadth of experiences for any age in near-perfect weather. For more about Acadia National Park, along with a few travel tips, click here.