Difficulty: Easy, but with a few tricky boulders near the summit. Moderate-strenuous if you opt for the longer hike that will bring you to two additional mountains.
How to get there: After crossing the bridge onto Mount Desert Island on ME Route 3, stay to the right, following ME Route 102. Just before reaching Southwest Harbor, turn left onto Fernald Point Road. Continue on this road to an Acadia National Park parking area on the left.
Information: Flying Mountain, at 284 feet above sea level, is one of the lowest peaks in Acadia National Park, yet it offers some great views. It can be climbed as part of a short out-and-back hike (0.6 miles), or as a short loop (1.4 miles) or as a longer loop of up to 4.6 miles, by hiking a connected trail that climbs nearby St. Sauveur Mountain (679 feet in elevation) and Acadia Mountain (681 feet in elevation).
From the Fernald Point Road parking lot, the gradual climb to the summit of Flying Mountain is just 0.3 mile. Much of the trail is gravel and log steps. Just before reaching the peak, the trail travels over exposed ledges and offers great views of Somes Sound, Southewest Harbor, Northeast Harbor and the islands to the south – the Cranberries, Greening, Sutton, Baker and Bear. Blue blazes on rocks and trees mark the way to the wooden summit sign, surrounded by a pile of rocks.
From the summit, hikers can choose to either turn around and return to the parking lot or continue on the trail and descend the north side of the mountain to reach Valley Cove at 0.9 mile. A short distance past the cove, hikers will reach a sign that directs them to the parking lot. Turn left and hike 0.5 mile on Fire Road to the parking lot or turn right to hike the loop trail that hits the summits of St. Sauveur Mountain and Acadia Mountain.
Nearby Fernald Point is the site of the first attempted settlement of Mount Desert Island. A party of French Jesuits, under the direction of Father Pierre Baird, settled there in the early 1600s. The settlement didn’t last long. An English warship attacked and the colonists were captured or scattered.
Flying Mountain is a part of Acadia National Park; parking in the parking lot and hiking on the property requires a park pass. For information about park pass cost, visit www.nps.gov/acad/planyourvisit/entrancefees.htm
Personal Note: I only hiked up Flying Mountain and to Valley Cove and then back to the parking lot. However, a reader informed me that if you continue on Valley Peak Trail towards St. Sauveur Mountain, the going gets a bit rough. Expect a challenge.
Flying Mountain would be a great place to watch the sunrise, since the view opens up to the east. It is also a great mountain for someone who isn’t sure of their hiking abilities. If you reach the summit of Flying Mountain after only a few minutes of hiking, and you can decide whether or not you’d like to continue from there or simply turn around. Since this parking lot is a little bit off the main road, it usually doesn’t fill up as fast as the other trailhead parking lots on MDI in the summer.