Monday, July 11, 2011

Hike – Gorham Mountain

Otter Cove from Gorham Mountain
Gorham Mountain is located in Acadia National Park in Maine.  It is a not-too-difficult way to get excellent views of the ocean and Park area from Great Head to Otter Cliffs.  It is also the first hike I ever did in Acadia.  My sister Lynette and her husband George asked me to join them on it. 

This post describes a loop that traverses Gorham Mountain and returns to the starting point via part of the Ocean Path.  

Directions – Drive down the Park Loop Road past the Sand Beach and Thunder Hole parking areas.  The parking area for the start of the Gorham Mountain hike will be on the right up off the Park Loop Road.  The trailhead is off the back of the parking lot.

The trail winds through trees as you make your way up away from the Park Loop Road.  In only ten or fifteen minutes you will already start to glimpse the ocean through the trees.  Continue up the path watching for blazes and/or cairns to mark the way. 

You will come to a signpost indicating a spur trail that will take you to Cadillac Cliffs.  If you prefer an easier hike, stay on the main trail (the one to the left.)  Otherwise, take the trail to the right.  Cadillac Cliffs is a set of rock formations that produce small caves or openings among rock slabs in the face of the mountain.  This trail spur connects back to the main trail in two tenths of a mile.  To get to the connection, you have to navigate your way up and over a set of large boulders.  It is the most challenging part of the hike.

Negotiating the boulders on the Cadillac Cliffs trail
A peek at Otter Cliffs

Once back on the main trail you continue upward toward the summit.  The trees start to open out more and you get views in multiple directions.

Otter Cove and the Cranberry Islands
George framed against Otter Cliffs with sea smoke coming in
Flowering tree framed against Sand Beach in the fog

Around this point I happened to look down at the ledge we were walking on and noticed a fossil left in the rock who knows how many millions of years ago.

Fossil in the ledge on Gorham Mountain

Not too much longer after this we came to the summit of Gorham Mountain with 360 degree views of the coastline and mountains.  The video below starts at Otter Cove, swings by the summits of Cadillac Mountain, Dorr Mountain, Champlain Mountain, and the Beehive, and passes over the ocean before ending back at Otter Cove.

If you want to do a shorter hike you can simply turn around and head back down the trail you just came in on.  We continued over Gorham Mountain.  The trail on this side of the mountain also has open views for a while as you descend.

Great Head and Sand Beach from Gorham Mountain
The Beehive from Gorham Mountain

You will come to a split in the trail.  Take the one to the right to stay on the main trail.  The one to the left is a connector to the Bowl Trail and Champlain Mountain.  As we continued downward, we watched a young couple make their way slowly down the face of the Beehive.  [To read about hiking the Beehive, the Bowl Trail, and Champlain Mountain – which has views even better than Gorham Mountain – then click here.] 
Couple descending the Beehive Trail.

The Gorham Mountain Trail ends when the Bowl Trail comes in from the left.  Continue down the Bowl Trail, passing by the Beehive Trail coming in from the left.  After some final hiking over roots and rocks the trail comes out at the Park Loop Road very near the Sand Beach parking area.  Cross over the road, turn right, and follow a short path to get to the bathrooms and drinking water that are here.  You can explore Sand Beach, if you wish.

When you are done here head back up to the Park Loop Road.  On the left is a well built walking path on the ocean side of the road.  This is the Ocean Path.  This is an easy, very scenic walk all the way back to where you parked.  You will pass Thunder Hole on the way and you can take a side trip to see this, too.  Here is a sampling of views along the Ocean Path.  For a description of the complete walk, and many more photos, click here.

Looking towards Otter Cliffs from the Ocean Path
View from Ocean Path

All in all, this loop made for a good first hike in Acadia.  It whetted my appetite to see the other trails that the park offers and I have been hiking them when I can.  Clicking on the "Hikes - Acadia National Park" label at the bottom of this post will bring up the others I have already posted.

Cumulative distance:             4.0 miles
Cumulative elevation gain:   591 feet (with the Canada Cliffs side trail)
Cumulative duration:            2-4 hours (depending on how much exploring you do)

Acadia Hiking Guide

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