Friday, April 13, 2012

Hike – South Bubble, Bubble Rock, North Bubble, Conner’s Nubble, Eagle Lake

The Bubbles rising over Jordan Pond
The Bubbles are perhaps the two most photographed mountains in Acadia National Park.  Everyone seems to stop at the Jordan Pond House and when they walk down in back of it the two mountains dominate the view across Jordan Pond.  Some people hike to the top of the nearer one from this point, but there is a better way to do it. 

This post describes a loop hike up to Bubble Rock and the summit of South Bubble, then a traverse of North Bubble, then a traverse of Connor’s Nubble, then a walk along the shore of Eagle Lake, then finally a loop back to the start.  This is a hike that can be split into multiple pieces so that you can make it a length that is comfortable for you.

Directions – To get to the starting point take the Park Loop Road entrance off of Route 233, as if you were going to drive up Cadillac Mountain.  Go past the road to the top and in another mile or so you will see parking for Bubble Pond on the left.  Drive past this and in a short distance you will see a parking area on the right for Bubble Rock, where you should turn in. 

If you are starting from the Jordan Pond House, turn left out of there as if you were going to drive to the Cadillac Mountain entrance.  Pass by a small pullout on the left that has a view of Bubble Rock and you will come to the parking area described above.  There is no bathroom or drinking water here. 

To start, walk off the back of the parking area on the very wide Bubbles Divide trail.  Within a few dozen yards you will cross the Jordan Pond Carry Trail.  Continue straight and you will then come to a split in the trail; bear left to continue on the Bubbles Divide Trail.  In only a few minutes you will come to a sign pointing left for Bubble Rock.  Take this trail.

You will reach the marked summit of South Bubble first.  There are no real views here.  Continue just to the left and you will come to Bubble Rock.  This boulder was left here during the last ice age after the glaciers receded.  It may look a little precarious, but it’s not.  You can push all you want, and some people do, but it’s not going anywhere because it weighs 14 tons.  While you are here, if you look to the north you have a great view of Eagle Lake.

Bubble Rock
Eagle Lake

When you are done here, retrace your steps to the summit.  Now head along the trail as it continues to the south side of the mountain.  In a few hundred yards the sightline will open up and you will have incredible views of Jordan Pond laid out in front of you.  It will be framed against the land south of it and the Atlantic Ocean in the background.  If you look closely at the upper right of Jordan Pond you can see a small green open area.  This is the meadow in back of the Jordan Pond House.

Jordan Pond as seen from South Bubble
Wider view of Jordan Pond from South Bubble

I continued down this trail (South Trail) until it got very steep.  I made my way down as best I could, but I eventually reached a spot where there was about a five foot drop with no footholds to allow me to step down.  Some people coming up from below were able to make it up over this with difficulty, but I didn’t want to risk trying to get down over it, so I turned around and went back to the summit.  (This trail would take you to the shore of Jordan Pond.)  By the way, this side of South Bubble is popular with rock climbers.  There are signs near the summit telling people not to throw rocks over the edge because there may be people below.  The fact that signs are even needed speaks poorly for the intelligence of some people.

Looking down the steep South Trail.  I made it down this section in the photo before being stopped further on.

When you are done on South Bubble retrace your steps back down to the Bubbles Divide Trail, turn right and continue back to the split in the trail.  You can now head back to your car if you want by continuing straight, or you can take a left and head up North Bubble.  I did the latter.  While the hike up South Bubble was easy, this is a somewhat steeper trail.  While there were a number of people at Bubble Rock and the South Bubble summit, I only met two other people on top of North Bubble.  The views here are almost comparable to those on South Bubble, and they are from 100 feet higher.

Jordan Pond view from North Bubble

If you want to end your hike then just retrace your steps back down North Bubble to your vehicle.  I chose to traverse North Bubble by taking the North Trail off the summit and down the long north ridge of the mountain.  It descends gently and features long stretches walking along open ledges with views of Eagle Lake and the valley between the Bubbles and Pemetic Mountain.  I stopped along here for a snack and the entire time I sat I saw no other human and the only sounds of any that I heard were a couple of girls laughing a long way away on a carriage road by the base of Eagle Lake.  This was on a beautiful Sunday during peak tourist season.  If you want to get away from the crowds and enjoy nature without tons of effort, then this trail is highly recommended. 

Eagle Lake
L-R: Pemetic Mountain, South Bubble, North Bubble

By the way, I also found another curious rock left by glaciers that fascinated me more than Bubble Rock.  It is a boulder sitting on top of another, much smaller one.  At first I thought people must have set them like that, but when I got closer I realized nobody would have bothered with that much work.  To give you some perspective, the “little” stone in the picture below is close to a foot across.

Interesting boulders on the north ridge of North Bubble

As I continued down the North Trail, Conner’s Nubble came into view.  It is a small, rocky rise right on the shore of Eagle Lake.  I was debating whether I wanted to include it in this hike or not.  When North Trail ended at a carriage road, I decided to do so.  If you want to go back now, turn right and walk along the carriage road a few tenths of a mile.  When the Jordan Pond Carry Trail crosses the road, turn right onto it.  This will lead you all the way back to the four way intersection just off the parking area where you left your vehicle.  It is an easy hike, with a gentle rise.

Conner's Nubble in the center of the photo, as seen from the north ridge of North Bubble

When I crossed the carriage road the trail to go up Conner’s Nubble started immediately.  This is a very short trail, but also a steep trail.  It required a little bit of effort, and the use of my hands, to make it up to the top.  Although Conner’s Nubble is less than 600 feet high, its position right on the lake makes it seem higher.

L-R: the south ridge of Cadillac Mtn., Eagle Lake, and Pemetic Mtn. as seen from Conner's Nubble
Looking north from Conner's Nubble at Eagle Lake, Frenchman Bay, and mountains on the mainland

I traversed the summit and headed down a much less steep trail.  This ended when it connected to the Eagle Lake Trail.  I took a left and in a very short distance I came to a carriage road.  Rather than continue this way I turned around and followed the Eagle Lake Trail along the shore.  The view of the water was open for much of this stretch.

View from the shore of Eagle Lake

At first this was an easy trail, with some roots and rocks to step over.  Eventually it turned into a hike over a rock slope that slowed me down quite a bit.  The trail was not always marked as clearly as it could have been, and sometimes I ended up making my own way from boulder to boulder.  I met a man resting along this stretch.  He had picked up a cheap trail guide and had taken the Eagle Lake trail because the book called it “easy”.  His knees were killing him from all the rocks he had traversed.  After talking with him for a while, and ensuring he was going to be okay, I continued.  Eventually the rocks came to an end and the trail reverted to regular dirt, roots, and small rocks.

The Eagle Lake trail continues for quite a ways, but you will come to a sign for the Jordan Pond Carry trail.  Take this right and head up and away from Eagle Lake.  You will come to the carriage road you crossed over to first start up Conner’s Nubble.  (Watch for a 90 degree right turn in the trail just before heading up to the road.) This is the trail crossing I mentioned above that you would come to if you wanted to skip Conner’s Nubble.  Head straight across the carriage road to continue on the Jordan Pond Carry Trail.  Take this all the way back to the four way intersection just off the parking area.  Turn left here to head back to the parking.

South Bubble only:

Cumulative distance:             1 mile roundtrip
Cumulative elevation gain:   275 feet
Cumulative duration:            30-45 minutes (including time for photos)

South Bubble and North Bubble only:

Cumulative distance:             1.6 miles roundtrip
Cumulative elevation gain:   450 feet
Cumulative duration:            1-1.5 hours (including time for photos)

South Bubble and North Bubble traverse only:

Cumulative distance:             3.1 miles roundtrip
Cumulative elevation gain:   650 feet
Cumulative duration:            2-2.5 hours (including time for photos)

South Bubble, North Bubble traverse, Conner’s Nubble traverse:

Cumulative distance:             4.3 miles roundtrip
Cumulative elevation gain:   850 feet
Cumulative duration:            3.5-4 hours (5 hours minus time for photos, snack, talking)

Acadia Hiking Guide


  1. @Anton - Acadia features many terrific views, which is why it is so great hiking there. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Beautiful views! I can see why it is such a popular place to hike..

  3. @Dawn - There really are so many great places to see things from, even though the park is relatively small compared to the ones out west. It's a dayhiker's paradise. There is also the 27 mile long Park Loop Road for those folks who want to take a slow drive along the ocean and to the top of the highest mountain on the island. Click on the "Hikes - Acadia National Park" label at the bottom of this post, then check out the "Ocean Path" post. It has pictures from part of the Park Loop Road stretch. Thanks for reading.