On a quick run down to Acadia for a morning hike, Sam and I wanted to try something we hadn’t done before, a trail that would take us on a loop rather than a straight up and back route. Norumbega Mountain, which rests along the eastern side of Somes Sound, isn’t the highest and it isn’t the smallest peak on Mount Desert Island, but since it was one we had yet to conquer, away we went. As with seemingly every day this summer, the weather was spectacular… blue skies, white puffy clouds and a cool ocean breeze.
When I saw the name of the trail we would be taking – The Goat Trail – I couldn’t help but wonder if this was going to be one of those quick but arduous climbs to the top of a mountain in Acadia. Relatively speaking, the mountains in Acadia National Park aren’t really that tall, but any time you ascend 1,000 ft in half a mile or so, it will certainly get me huffing and puffing. Although Norumbega is only 852 ft high, choosing the Goat Trail to get to the top makes you feel every one of them. As you climb, you get wonderful views back toward Upper Hadlock Pond and the Sargent/Penobscot Ridge beyond. In front of Sargent Mountain there are several smaller peaks including Parkman, Gilmore and Bald Mountain, and as you make your way toward the summit of Norumbega, you are also treated to views of the western mountains. First there is Acadia and St. Saveur against the shore of Somes Sound, and beyond climbs Beech Mountain, Mansell Mountain, Knight’s Nubble and Bernard Mountain.
The descent through the trees was much more knee-friendly than the way up had been, and on this bright and sunny day the cool shadows from the overhead canopy provided much appreciated shade. As we reached the bottom of the mountain, we emerged from the forest to see the quite spectacular Lower Hadlock Pond where a gentle breeze was blowing across the water. We paused for a while to enjoy the moment and eat our lunch, and once we felt sufficiently refreshed, we started on the trail which veered to the left around the pond. This part of the trail was quite beautiful, with the rocky shoreline of the pond never more than a few yards from us. At the other end of the pond we came upon a pretty waterfall, a scene which might look especially photogenic when the fall foliage season arrives. The stroll back to the car took us along the Lower Norumbega Trail over heavily mossed ground and a stretch of forest that is home some of the tallest trees I have seen in Acadia. As with most Acadia hikes, this adventure afforded typically gorgeous mountain and ocean views, but it was the the variety of terrain we covered that made for a surprisingly different and quite memorable morning.