With Sam newly installed at college, his absence was causing a slight air of melancholy around the house as the weekend developed. Nothing serious, but we were definitely feeling the adjustment to him not being around. We all miss him immensely, though it is obviously something that we will become accustomed to. We are fortunate to have the beauty of Acadia National Park in our backyard, so what better way to lift the spirits than spending some time in one of our favorite places. On most of our recent trips down to the park we have spent time either on the quiet side of the island, or on one of the many magnificent mountain ridge hiking trails. Feeling like we all needed a “fix” of ocean views this time though, we turned to an old favorite of ours and decided to hike the Gorham Mountain Trail.
Gorham Mountain Trail offers several options for making your hike interesting and different, allowing you to go up one way and down another. On this occasion we decided to start at the parking lot trailhead just past Thunder Hole, and rather than going all the way to the summit of the mountain and then descending to where the trail meets the Ocean Path and Loop Road near Sand Beach, we followed the rocky but relatively easy path upward through the forest until we reached the intersection of the Cadillac Cliffs Trail. At this point the paths diverge and then meet up again maybe half a mile further up the slope, but the terrain on each of these trails is quite different. The Cadillac Cliffs trail takes a lower, more adventurous route which is a little bit more challenging than the more familiar and traditional route of the Gorham Mountain Trail. Huge granite cliffs tower over you as you navigate several opportunities to scramble over and around an array of rocks and ledges, and on this day the cooler temperatures and shade provided by the cliffs was much appreciated, as was all of the wonderful restoration and development work that has been done on this trail. It always amazes me how impressive the trail work in Acadia is… much work has been done on many of these trails to make them more accessible, and in most cases this work is quite subtle, to the point where it looks very natural.
After making the ascent up from the Cadillac Cliffs Trail via a series of steep granite steps to rejoin the Gorham Mountain Trail, we continued a little further to the first real opportunity to view Newport Cove and the Atlantic Ocean. This little clearing with wide open views has always been one of our favorite spots in Acadia, and is probably the first place we really hiked to with Sam, and now with Jack. The Gorham Mountain Trail is a fun trail, one that in terms of difficulty is quite kid-friendly, yet the payoff in terms of scenery is absolutely spectacular. We spent a while here just chilling and reminiscing… soaking in the cool ocean breeze and views of Otter Cliffs and Sand Beach before wandering back down the mountain, this time skipping the Cadillac Cliffs Trail and following the Gorham Mountain Trail all the way to the parking lot. Even though it was only late August, the leaves on many of the little birch trees that are scattered all over the mountainside had already started to change color, showing off beautiful shades of yellow that seemed to be on fire when backlit by the late afternoon sun. Our summer in Maine has been a spectacularly sunny and pleasant one, and I wonder what impact that might have on either the timing or the intensity of this year’s fall foliage season? Methinks we will be back on this trail to enjoy the fall colors… maybe we can bring Sam with us on fall break?