Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hike – The Triad, Day Mountain, Hunters Beach (Hunters Brook Trail, Triad Trail, Day Mountain Trail, Lower Day Mountain Trail, Hunters Cliff Trail, Hunters Beach Trail)

View from trail between Hunters Cliff and Hunters Beach
How would you like to get away from most of the crowds in Acadia National Park, but still do a hike that combines walking alongside a gentle stream, two traverses of smaller mountains, enjoying the view from cliffs right over the ocean, and a walk along a secluded beach?  This post describes such a hike.  It is a loop hike, so only one vehicle is needed.  If you do not want to do the entire hike, I will mention a few places where you can cut it short.

Directions – Drive along the Park Loop Road until it heads away from the ocean and back inland.  There will be an overpass for Route 3 that you drive under and just after it is a place on the right where you can pull off the Park Loop Road.  It will be just before a stream passes under the Park Loop Road.  This is Hunters Brook.  The trailhead is right here.  There is no bathroom or water.

Looking at Hunters Brook from the trailhead

Hunters Brook Trail is a quiet, gently rising walk right alongside the banks of Hunters Brook.  The trail does cross it several times.  If you don’t want to wade, there are rocks you can step on, but they may be wet, so watch your step.  There are roots and rocks on the trail, so watch your step there, too.  There is a lot of old moss along this trail, and there is also a beaver-made dam across the stream.

Heading up Hunters Brook Trail
Small cascade on Hunters Brook
Hunters Brook is starting to get a little smaller
A good view of the moss that grows alongside the stream

After about 1.2 miles the trail takes a sharp left and starts to gain elevation up the Triad.  If you don’t want to do any uphill hiking then simply turn around and retrace your steps for a 2.5 mile walk.  The trail up the Triad rises moderately and steadily.  It levels off just before it comes to a trail junction.  At this junction take a left and follow the sign pointing to the summit of the Triad in one tenth of a mile.  The summit has a view to the southwest.  (For a description of hiking the Triad from the Jordan Pond House instead, you can read my post here.)

View from the summit of the Triad

Continue down the other side of the Triad on the Triad Trail and you will come to some open ledge that actually has a better view than the summit.  The trail drops gently, then moderately, then somewhat steeply, over ledge.  The day was overcast, with some moisture on the ledge and one five foot section was so steep that I accidentally slid down it on my feet.  I didn’t fall, but it was a reminder to watch my step.

More open view from a ledge to the south of the summit of the Triad

The Triad Trail ends when you come to a carriage road.  Just ahead the carriage road crosses over the Park Loop Road.  If you want to cut your hike short, walk down the steps to the left of the bridge to the road and walk back roughly eight tenths of a mile to where you parked.  To continue your hike, walk across the bridge to another carriage road, cross it, and the trailhead for the Day Mountain Trail will be there.

This trail rises moderately over a lot of roots and rocks.  There is a carriage road that goes right to the summit of Day Mountain (the only such carriage road in the entire park).  Cross this road twice and just after the second crossing is a small rise over rocks to the somewhat open summit of Day Mountain.  There is a view to the southwest.

Looking at the Cranberry Islands from the summit of Day Mountain

When you are done here, head across the summit and the Day Mountain Trail will continue on the other side of the carriage road that has looped around to this side of the summit.  This trail varies among smaller ups and downs, mixed with some steeper descents.  Much like The Triad, there is some open ledge to the south of the summit that provides better views than what you get from the summit.

Better view from a ledge south of the summit of Day Mountain
Looking to the southeast from the same ledge as the picture above

When you come to the carriage road yet again, walk towards the signage somewhat to your right.  The trail continues past these signs.  You will come down to a log walk.  It eventually splits.  Stay on the left branch.  Both left and right lead out to Route 3, but the left one takes you where you need to go.  Just before reaching Route 3 you will see a sign pointing you toward the Champlain Monument.  There is a worn trail heading off to the left.  Take it.  This is a short walk to a plaque.  When you are done, retrace your steps back to the trail, turn left and you will come down to Route 3.  Cross across to the parking area on the other side of Route 3.

The Champlain Monument

If you want to cut your hike short at this point you can walk up Route 3 (left from where the trail met Route 3, right from the parking area on Route 3).  When you reach the bridge passing over the Park Loop Road head down the embankment to where you parked. 

To continue your hike, look for signs on the back of the parking area for “Lower Day Mt.” and “Hunters Cliff”.  This is the trail to take.  Note: these will be signs nailed to a tree because you have now left Acadia National Park.  These are local trails maintained by the town of Seal Harbor.

This trail meanders some and soon comes to a road (Cooksey Drive).  Cross over it to continue on the trail.  I believe this road separates Lower Day Mountain from Hunters Cliff.  As you get near to the ocean you will start to have views toward Hunters Head.  There are trails lightly worn that head off in a few places, but I did not explore them.  I did, however, make my way down the ledge of Hunters Cliff until I had a clear view of the Atlantic and the coastline in both directions.  I decided this was a good spot for lunch.

First view of Hunters Head from the Hunters Cliff Trail
Full view of Hunters Head from Hunters Cliff (note the car on the Park Loop Road)
Some of the ledge at Hunters Cliff that I made my way across

When I was done I made my way back up to the trail (about 50-100 feet of elevation) and continued.  The trail was somewhat grown in by some branches as I made my way along, but enough people walk it to keep it open.  Just as you get a view to a rocky beach (Hunters Beach) through the trees you will come to a boundary sign.  You are now re-entering Acadia National Park.  I noticed a lot of poison ivy just off the trail at this point, so watch your step.  As I was descending to the beach I finally met the first people I had seen during my entire hike.

The beach is covered with small rocks.  There must be quite an undertow here because when the water was withdrawing over the rocks you could hear a loud noise like the ocean was sucking the water back to itself with great force.  Another feature at this beach is that it is the mouth of Hunters Brook – yes, the same stream that you started the hike on.

Looking toward Hunters Cliff from Hunters Beach
Hunters Brook coming out of the trees and down to Hunters Beach

When you are done here, take Hunters Beach Trail off the back of the beach.  This is a wide, well worn trail.  In a few tenths of a mile the trail ends at a parking area on Cooksey Drive.  Unfortunately, although Hunters Brook is entirely within Acadia National Park, there is no trail built alongside it back to where this hike started. 

To complete the loop, turn right out of the parking area and walk along this road until you reach Route 3.  Turn right onto Route 3 and walk back along it until you reach the bridge that passes over the Park Loop Road.  Walk down the embankment to the left and cross over the road to where you parked.

Hunters Brook hike only:

Cumulative distance:             2.5 miles round trip
Cumulative elevation gain:   150 feet
Cumulative duration:            1 – 1.5 hours

Hunters Brook and Triad traverse only:

Cumulative distance:             3.0 miles round trip
Cumulative elevation gain:   600 feet
Cumulative duration:            2 – 2.5 hours

Hunters Brook, Triad traverse, and Day Mountain traverse only:

Cumulative distance:             4.3 miles round trip
Cumulative elevation gain:   900 feet
Cumulative duration:            3-3.5 hours

Recommended hike:

Cumulative distance:             5.2 miles round trip
Cumulative elevation gain:   950 feet
Cumulative duration:            4 hours, including stopping for lunch at Hunters Cliff

Acadia Hiking Guide


  1. Great pictures Chip. We did a short section down to the beach where the rocks were making a noise when the waves broke. Nice little trail.