Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hike – Seaside Path and Jordan Stream Trail

Cobblestone bridge, Jordan Stream
This post describes making a loop starting and ending at the Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park in Maine.  The two trails involved are the Seaside Path and the Jordan Stream Trail, bridged by a short walk on Route 3.

This loop avoids the crowds of people that go to Jordan Pond House.  You take in mossy forest trails, the ocean, a beach, a rushing stream with many small falls, and the only cobblestone bridge in the Acadia National Park Carriage Trail system.

First, take the Seaside Path south from Jordan Pond House down to Seal Harbor.  It starts on the opposite side of the parking lot from the Jordan Pond House.  Leave the parking lot and take a right onto a Carriage Road.  Take an immediate left onto the start of the Seaside Path.  Unlike most other trails in Acadia the start is not well-marked.  There is only a small signpost on a tree.  If you do not see the start of the trail by the time you have reached an intersection of Carriage Roads you have gone too far.

Once you start on the Seaside Path it is easy to follow.  It proceeds just to the right of the dorms for the Jordan Pond workers.  It quickly becomes very private - a quiet walk through the woods.  The path has heavy moss on both sides, in several varieties.  The trail drops gently all the way to the ocean.

Moss beside the Seaside Path

At eight tenths of a mile you will come to the Stanley Brook Bridge.  It is a three arched bridge with a Carriage Road on top of it.  The left arch is for Stanley Brook, the center arch is for the main road, and the right arch is for the Seaside Path.

After another 1.1 miles the trail ends by coming to a paved, private road.  Take a right and walk down this road to Route 3.  We did not see any large wildlife on the path, but when we stepped onto the private road a deer bounded across in front of us.

Once you reach Route 3 you can cross it and step down onto Seal Harbor Beach.  It is public and you can find sea glass, sand dollars, and polished stones on it. 

When you are done beachcombing, the hike continues by walking west on Route 3 (from where the private road meets Route 3, take a right.)  There is some traffic on this road, but much of the walk includes a sidewalk and/or enough space to safely walk beside the highway.  After about a half a mile you will see on the right a wooden gate marking the end of a Carriage Road.  Walk through this gate.

You immediately see Long Pond on the left.  You can head over towards it and visit the Long Pond Boat House.  When you are done here continue up the Carriage Road for one mile.  The start of the Jordan Stream Trail is on the left and is well-marked with the standard Acadia National Park wooden trail marker.

Long Pond

Once onto the trail you may need to watch for some blazes (pieces of wood nailed to trees, not paint on trees) because the trail is not traveled enough at this end for it to be well-worn.  You shortly come to Jordan Stream.

The trail is now relatively easy to follow since it travels right up Jordan Stream.  It periodically crosses back and forth over the stream, so that you end up hiking on both sides.  There are bridges or rocks where you cross over, so there is no wading required.

Jordan Stream
As you travel upstream you will come to the only cobblestone bridge in the entire Acadia National Park Carriage Road system.  All the other bridges were built with native granite.  The hiking trail passes directly under the bridge, but you can walk up around and take pictures from on top of it, too. 

Cobblestone bridge

Cobblestone bridge, upstream side
From this point continue following the trail upstream.  You will intersect with Carriage Roads a couple more times before finally coming to Carriage Road Intersection #15.  Directly across the Carriage Road is a set of stone steps.  Walk up these and you come out right behind the Jordan Pond House, very near the parking lot you started from.

This is an easy hike with no steep sections at all, either going down to the ocean or back up to Jordan Pond House.  With the exception of Seal Harbor Beach I only saw one other person the entire hike, a woman riding a horse on the Carriage Road.  This made for a quiet, peaceful walk with the ability to stop and enjoy whatever views I wanted.

[For other hikes that start at the Jordan Pond House see this post for a loop hike over the Triad, this post for a circuit of Jordan Pond, and this post for a traverse of Pemetic Mountain.]

Described Hike:

Cumulative distance:             4.9 miles
Cumulative elevation gain:   300 feet
Cumulative duration:            3.5 hours (including time for photos)

Acadia Park Trail Guide