Trail: Jordan Pond Loop Trail
Hike Location: Acadia National ParkGeographic Location: south of Bar Harbor, ME (44.32004, -68.25303)Length: 3.5 milesDifficulty: 4/10 (Moderate)Last Hiked: July 2019Overview: A nearly flat circumnavigation of Jordan Pond with great views of the surrounding mountains.Park Information: Route Map: Highlight:
Directions to the trailhead: This trailhead is most easily accessed using the Island Explorer shuttle bus. From the Hulls Cove Visitor Center, ride the Jordan Pond route to the Jordan Pond House shuttle stop, which is the trailhead for this hike.
The hike: For my introduction to Acadia National Park, see my hike at the park’s Beech Mountain. The Jordan Pond Loop Trail described here is my favorite short hike in Acadia National Park. The hike features scenic views across Jordan Pond to the rocky mountains that surround it, and the pondside route passes through a variety of environments including some meadows, a wetland with a long boardwalk, some shady dry forest, and even a rugged sunny boulder field. Indeed, this hike provides a sample of all the great sights Acadia’s interior ponds have to offer.

Trailhead near Jordan Pond House

From the Jordan Pond House shuttle stop, walk to the left (west) of Jordan Pond House, and then angle right to head for Jordan Pond. A gradual descent through a sunny meadow brings you to the south corner of Jordan Pond. The view across the pond to the bare rock mountains called the Bubbles may be the best view on this hike, so make sure you do not miss it.

The Bubbles across Jordan Pond

Upon reaching the pond’s shore, turn left to begin a clockwise journey around the Jordan Pond Loop Trail. Next you pass a small concrete dam called Water Company Dam. Owned by the Seal Harbor Water Company, Water Company Dam dates to 1920, and it combined with glacial debris constrain the water in Jordan Pond. The Jordan Pond Loop Trail briefly joins a carriage road to cross Jordan Pond’s main outlet stream on the carriage road bridge. After crossing the bridge, turn right to leave the wide two-track carriage road and return to the single-track Jordan Pond Loop Trail.

Hiking the boardwalk

The trail heads north along the heavily forested west bank of Jordan Pond. Soon you reach the start of a long two-plank boardwalk that carries you over an extensive seasonal wetland along the pond’s west bank. This boardwalk was in the process of being reconstructed on my visit, and the new sections had some nice wide passing areas where you could step to the side and let oncoming hikers pass. These passing zones come in handy due to the narrowness of the boardwalk and the high traffic volume this trail receives.

Clambering through a boulder field

Just past 1 mile, you finish the boardwalk and begin a rocky section that forms the hardest part of the loop. Although the elevation change on this loop is minimal, you will probably need to use your hands to clamber over the boulders on this section of trail. As you approach the end of the rocky section, nice views emerge down the length of Jordan Pond with massive Pemetic Mountain across the pond to the left.

Pemetic Mountain across Jordan Pond

At 1.5 miles, the trail to Penobscot and Sargent Mountains exits left. Stay right to cross one of Jordan Pond’s main feeder streams on an interesting wooden bridge. When I passed through here, a common loon was nesting in the wetlands along this stream, and I saw several frogs poking their eyes above the water.

Bridge at north end of Jordan Pond

Where the trail to the Bubbles exits left, stay right to round the north end of Jordan Pond. Now heading south along the pond’s east shore, views of rocky Penobscot Mountain to the west appear across the pond. Most of the trail on this side of the pond is paved with gravel, and these areas are wide and smooth enough for a stroller to cross. However, a few small streams are crossed on rough stepping stones.

Rocky Penobscot Mountain

3 miles into the hike, you reach a trail intersection where the trail to The Triad and Pemetic Mountain exits left. Turn right to cross an inlet of Jordan Pond on a stone dam-like structure. Where the trail splits after crossing the inlet, you can go either way: the left route provides a slightly shorter route back to the trailhead, but the right route stays along the shore of Jordan Pond. Both routes return to the Jordan Pond House, where the park shuttle bus and perhaps a nice lunch or dinner in the House’s restaurant await you after your hike.