Acadia National Park: 10 Easy Hikes

Acadia National Park has over 120 miles of the most scenic hiking trails on the East Coast. Most trails are best used between early May and October/mid-November. Below is our selection of the best easy hikes, perfect for families and all hikers, focusing on enjoyable and manageable trails.

💡 These hikes are for families and, of course, anyone who dislikes strenuous activities and prefers short, easy hikes with breathtaking views.

One easy and family-friendly yet amazing hike is the  Bar Island Trail, which can only be done during low tide (read below).

💡 Good to know: Most of these hikes offer stunning photography opportunities!

We did every one of these seven amazing hikes ourselves and provide you with tips and Google Maps links for the trailhead and parking lot, that you can send to your phone:

1. Cadillac Summit Loop Trail | Very Easy

Despite being one of the shortest trails in Acadia National Park, Cadillac Summit Loop Trail is a crowd-pleaser. This is an easy and family-friendly trail with spectacular views. Our kids loved it! It wraps around the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard.

The summit loop offers a breathtaking 360-degree view of the Bar Harbor, surrounding islands, and the vast ocean. Given the trail’s popularity, the best time to hike is early morning or late evening when the crowd is less.

Parking: It is one of the busiest places in Acadia National Park and the parking area fills up quickly during peak season. This can result in the parking lot being closed down due to overcrowding. Consider taking the park bus system (free of charge) to access the peak for this short but great trail.

Reservation: You need a reservation with a specific time slot to visit Cadillac Mountain. Many make the mistake of thinking their park pass could is sufficient. That’s not true! Cadillac Mountain requires another reservation in addition to the park pass.

Without reservation, the park rangers will turn you away and you’ll have to find a spot with phone service to make your reservation: Website

Tip: Don’t take the path beside the gift shop, as this is not the summit loop trail. Start from the northern part of the large parking area (there are signs) and follow the trail clockwise around the summit.  To the northeast, you’ll see Bar Harbor.  The views all the way around the top are stunning.

2. Wonderland Trail | Very Easy

‘Wonderland Trail’ by Heidi, CC BY-SA, cropped

  • Length: 1.4 miles (2.2 km) round-trip
  • Maps: Topo Map, Trailhead Google Maps (send to your phone)
  • Crowds: Moderate, during mid-day you’ll share the trail with others

This is a very easy, family-friendly but still beautiful and unique hiking trail through a pine forest towards the rocky shoreline. Great to explore various tide pools. Although located on the quieter western side of Mount Desert, it’s a popular trail. That means you’ll share it with others during the day.

This is a perfect hike for kids. Lots to explore along the way and captivating views at the end. Our kids loved finding critters during low tide. We also saw osprey, hermit crabs, and a porcupine eating in a tree.

Parking is limited, although additional roadside parking lots are available. We always arrive early in the morning, especially on weekends during peak seasons.

3. Bar Island Trail | Easy

Honeymoon Acadia by Ryan Hyde, CC BY-SA, color corrections

  • Length: 2 miles round-trip (can vary)
  • Maps: Topo Map, Trailhead Google Maps (send to your phone)
  • Crowds: Popular trail, you may have to share it with many others in peak season

This is an easy, family-friendly hike (1-2 hours round-trip) to the highest point of Bar Island. It’s a unique hike since the sandbar is only accessible for about 3 hours each day: 1.5 hours before and after low tide (Tide Table). Park somewhere in downtown Bar Harbor and not on the sandbar.

The hike starts at the end of Bridge Street. First, you walk across the sandbar to the island, then on a wide forest trail and a footpath over rocky terrain. Try to avoid weekends during the peak season to dodge the crowds.

Caution: You only have three hours during low tide. Starting too late means you’ll be stuck on the island!

4. Ocean Path | Easy

‘Ocean Path View’ by NPS

  • Length: 4.4 miles (7.1 km) one way
  • Maps: Topo Map, Trailhead Google Maps (send to your phone)
  • Crowds: Popular, especially the parking lot at Sand Beach fills up fast

Also known as ‘Ocean Trail’ or ‘Coastal Trail’. An easy, yet probably the most scenic and popular hike on a mostly level gravel trail. It starts at Sand Beach and ends at Otter Point (or vice versa), running parallel to Park Loop Road.

The views are awesome with many stopping points to enjoy the stunning scenery. If you don’t want to hike the whole trail, you can also access it from multiple parking areas along Park Loop Road.

Due to its popularity and easy accessibility, the parking lot, as well as the trail, get crowded after 10 AM. During peak season, start your hike early in the morning, preferably around 8:30 AM.

5. Jordan Pond Loop | Easy

‘Jordan Pond – The Bubbles’ by Heidi, CC BY-SA, cropped

  • Length: 3.4 miles (5.5 km) round-trip
  • Maps: Topo Map, Trailhead Google Maps (send to your phone)
  • Crowds: Popular, especially the parking lot fills up after 10:00 AM

This is the perfect trail for families and kids and a classic Acadia hike. The trail wraps around Jordan Pond in a beautiful scenic setting.

It’s an easy trail on a gravel path. However, there are some wooden planks to walk and also some larger rocks to climb over. Nothing too difficult. However, it makes the hike even more exciting.

In peak seasons you should arrive early around 9:00 AM at least, as the Jordan Pond North parking lot fills up really quickly later. Alternatively, the Shuttle Explorer Bus is a great choice. After the hike, you may eat at the Jordan Pond House restaurant. Famous for its great food.

6. Ship Harbor Nature Trail | Easy

A hidden gem as far as readily accessible and worthwhile hikes in Acadia National Park. Located on the southwestern side of Mount Desert Island, the Ship Harbor Nature trail weaves through a stunning mix of spruce-fir forest, meadows, and rocky coastline.

At the endpoint of the trail, the breathtaking vista of the harbor awaits, where you can spot a variety of bird species and explore tidal pools rich with marine life. As you venture further, you’ll be welcomed by the soothing sound of waves hitting the rocky coastline.

Due to moderate traffic, the best time to hike is early in the morning to enjoy a tranquil walk. There is a small parking lot available at the trailhead. The trail is also near Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, a popular tourist spot.

More tips: There are not only coastal views but you can climb onto rocky shores and bouldery areas and watch the waves. It has captivating photo opportunities and sights, even if it’s foggy. Park along the road near the trailhead.

The trail walking surfaces include forest floors, firm wooden planks, and rocks. Wear good boots with grip and ankle support as well as puddles.

Rains over the past few days won’t make this trail dangerous or impassable, but it can get muddy with puddles. So be careful after rain.

7. Great Head Trail | Easy

Sand Beach overlook from Great Head Trail

The Great Head Trail is a gem of a hike nestled in the eastern part of Sand Beach. The trail gives a unique hiking experience by taking you through diverse terrains – dense forest, rocky cliffs, and an open summit.

With each step, you’ll be greeted with captivating views of the surrounding sea and offshore islands. As it’s near the popular Sand Beach, it’s best to start early in the morning to avoid the crowds. There is a parking area near Sand Beach.

Our experience: This is really a great and easy hike. Even if it’s wet it’s manageable and it dries out quickly when the sun comes out. Depending on the season, there are beautiful wildflowers. The views are stunning as well. rock scrambles are fun for almost all ages without the risky cliff faces.

8. Bass Harbor Head Light Trail | Easy-Moderate

The iconic Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

Located in the town of Tremont, the Bass Harbor Head Light trail is a short but rewarding hike. The trail winds through a dense forest and leads you to the iconic Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, a functional lighthouse with over a century of history.

The spot offers a magnificent view of the harbor and the Atlantic Ocean, especially during sunset.

It’s not so much a hike, but more like a short rock scramble. Since it’s quite short and not too difficult, it’s doable for the whole family and even for most seniors over 60 who have no mobility limitations. However, use good, sturdy shoes, and go slow! Besides the lighthouse, it offers great views of nearby islands as well.

At the lighthouse a steep staircase down to the rocks below the lighthouse. Photographers often exit the staircase to climb on the rocks for a better view of the lighthouse. However, we do not recommend doing this with smaller kids, as there are no guardrails once you get past the stairs.

Parking: A small parking area is available near the trailhead. There can be wait times of up to half an hour during peak season, especially on weekends. Alternatively, you may park along Route 102A instead of turning onto Lighthouse Road. However, in that case, you would have to walk the rest of the way.

While in the area, you can explore the nearby town of Bass Harbor.

9. Beech Mountain Trail | Easy-Moderate

Beech Mountain Trail is a loop trail that offers a bit of everything. From dense forests of beech and spruce to a granite summit with panoramic views, the trail is a feast for the senses. The trail features a historic fire tower at the summit, offering stunning views of the park’s mountains, the Cranberry Isles, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Hiking in the early morning will give you a chance to enjoy the trail’s tranquility and increase your chances of spotting wildlife.

Tip: We don’t recommend hiking with your family after or during rainfall, as the granite gets very slick then. That’s potentially dangerous, especially on the way down.

Also, hike up clockwise to do the steeper part first.

Otherwise, it’s awesome for families. Our 4 and 6-year-old kids hiked with us the entire trail without complaining and loved the tower at the top.

A parking lot is available near the trailhead. You could also combine this hike with a visit to the nearby Long Pond.

Closures: Due to repairs, a part of the trail might be closed from Mon-Thu until 6 AM to 4:30 PM. Please check with a ranger first or call the visitor center if the repairs are still going on.

10. Gorham Mountain Trail | Easy to Moderate

  • Length: 1.8 miles (2.9 km) round-trip
  • Map/Route: Gorham Mountain Trail Map
  • Crowds: Moderate, sometimes more
  • Parking/Trailhead: Google Maps

Sweeping views of the coast but it can be slippery with lots of scrambling. As you climb up the granite trail, you’ll encounter the “false summit,” a resting point with a splendid view.

Crowds: Especially the last part on the way back it can get very crowded as this portion is part of Ocean Path.

The summit of Gorham Mountain, though not the highest in the park, offers an impressive view of the surrounding landscape, including Otter Cliff, the Cranberry Isles, and Cadillac Mountain.

The trail can be popular, so start early to enjoy a serene hike. A parking lot is available near Sand Beach or the Gorham Mountain Trailhead.

Difficulty: While it’s steep and a little challenging it’s doable for kids and seniors. We climbed in light rain and it wasn’t as slippery as some say. However, we still recommend doing this one on a sunny day. It’s easier and the views will be more rewarding.

The trail is slo clearly marked with stone steps just where you need them.

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