Friday, July 19, 2013

Hike – Pemetic Mountain, East Cliff Trail, Pemetic Northwest Trail, Jordan Pond Carry Trail, Jordan Pond Trail

The Bubbles as seen from the start of this hike
There are many trails that start from the Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park in Maine.  This post describes one of the more popular ones.  It is a loop hike starting and ending at the Jordan Pond House that will traverse Pemetic Mountain from southeast to northwest then return along the shores of Jordan Pond.

Directions – Drive to the Jordan Pond House on the Park Loop Road and park.  This trail starts there.

The Jordan Pond House is a very popular destination for both tourists and hikers.  The food there is good (the popovers are excellent) and there are many trails that can be explored. 

To start the hike, follow the signs for the Nature Trail down back of the Jordan Pond House.  You will find the start of it where people take the famous picture of the Bubbles rising over the northern end of Jordan Pond.  This will lead you through some trees and out to the shore of Jordan Pond.  Walk over the small stone causeway and then take the Pond Trail that will head up and away to the right.  This trail is wide and very well maintained.
Looking up at Pemetic Mountain at the start of the hike

There are two trails up Pemetic off the Pond Trail’s left side that you can take.  In all honesty I intended to take the South Ridge Trail, but was expecting to find the trailhead just after the one on the right for the Triad and I apparently walked right past it.  One map I have shows it after the Triad trail while the other shows it before it.  Not realizing I had missed it I continued on the Pond Trail until I came to the Pemetic East Cliff Trail and I took this.

The trail is aptly named.  It rises steeply for hundreds of feet via the use of switchbacks.  You then reach some open ledge and join up with the South Ridge Trail coming in from the left.  From this point on the hike is the same regardless of which route you started up on.  There are already great views to the south from this point.  Turn right and head up the South Ridge Trail.
Looking out towards the Cranberry Islands from the South Ridge of Pemetic Mountain

Watch carefully for cairns and blue paint blazes for the rest of the hike up Pemetic.  I mention this because at one point on the way up the trail takes a left turn and actually starts to descend.  It looks like you should be going straight up the spine, yet the trail heads 90 degrees off of that.  Take your pictures of the south view before you head down.  After some hesitation I followed the marked trail and soon realized what was going on.  It had been laid out so that you hike along the west side of Pemetic in order to get a view over Jordan Pond.
Jordan Pond as seen from the west side of Pemetic Mountain

The Jordan Pond House nestled in the trees.  This is where the hike started.

The trail does eventually turn back to the right and heads up to the summit of Pemetic.  The view to the south is somewhat obstructed by a rocky spine that blocks views of some things that you could see from lower on the South Ridge Trail.  I walked out some of these outcroppings to take photos.  And don’t miss the views of Eagle Lake to the north while you are there.
A bit of Jordan Pond can still be seen from near the summit.
Eagle Lake and Frenchman Bay as seen from the summit of Pemetic Mountain
Two other hikers framed against the view to the northwest from the summit of Pemetic Mountain

The summit was popular this day and I spent 30-45 minutes talking with folks who were there when I arrived and some who came after me.  With three major starting points to summit Pemetic, each with its own features, this was not surprising.

When you are ready to continue head north off Pemetic’s summit a tenth of a mile down to a signpost where the trails from Bubble Pond (North Ridge Trail) and the Bubbles parking (Northwest Trail) come together.  The view of Eagle Lake is now unobstructed.  Head left down the Northwest Trail.  The descent is moderate in some places, but overall steep more than anything else, so watch your footing.
Eagle Lake as seen descending north from the summit of Pemetic Mountain

As you near the bottom of this trail you come upon an interesting feature.  There is a small gorge in the rock.  The trail goes through this gorge for a couple hundred feet, but it also goes right beside the top of it, too.  You can choose either way.  People coming up were hiking beside the gorge, not in it.  I took a look and the descent here was on smooth ledge and the angle was just enough to make me uncomfortable.  Had I been coming up I would have likely chosen the same path, but for descending I chose the gorge.
The entrance to the upper end of the gorge

Inside the gorge looking at the upper end of it

Inside the gorge looking up at the lower end of it

There are two small wooden ladders to help you down the steepest parts of the gorge.  Note that they are not bolted to the rock, so don’t horse around on them.  There are trees growing right in the gorge and I came upon an interesting feature with roots running over the surface of smooth ledge.  Once you are through here continue down the trail to the Park Loop Road, and after checking for traffic coming from the left cross over it to the Bubbles parking area.  There are no bathrooms or drinking water here.
Trees at the bottom of the gorge
Tree roots making their way over the surface of the ledge

Take the wide path off the back of this parking area as if you were going to go up to Bubble Rock.  (You can read about hiking the Bubbles here.)  In less than a tenth of a mile you will come to a wide cross trail.  This is the Jordan Pond Carry Trail.  Turn left onto this.  It will rise slightly before descending to the shore of Jordan Pond.  Along the way you will pass a trail on the left that will take you to the Bubble Rock turnout on the Park Loop Road.  It is very short so if you want you can take this side trail to the turnout for a view of Bubble Rock then return to the Jordan Pond Carry Trail.  At the end of the trail you will come out right at a wooden bridge on the shore of Jordan Pond.
Bubble Rock as seen from the Park Loop Road turnout
Looking out over Jordan Pond from the north shore

Turn left and walk back along the shore of Jordan Pond about one mile to the stone causeway that you crossed at the start of the hike.  Cross back over it, go up the nature trail, and you will be back at the Jordan Pond House where there are bathrooms, water, snacks, or if you prefer, tea and popovers on the north lawn.
On good weather days the Jordan Pond House extends lunches to their north lawn

[For other hikes that start at the Jordan Pond House see this post for a circuit of Jordan Pond, this post for a loop hike down the Seaside Path and back up the Jordan Stream Trail, and this post for a loop hike traverse of the Triad.]

Cumulative distance:             4.5 miles
Cumulative elevation gain:   950 feet
Cumulative duration:            3.5 – 4 hours (including time for photos)

Acadia Hiking Guide


  1. Wow, this is beautiful. I wish I was there...right now.

    1. So do I. :-)

      Acadia National Park really is beautiful and there are so many places to see views that even with its popularity it never seems too crowded.