1-minute hike: The Bubbles in Acadia National Park

Difficulty: Moderate. The trails leading to the tops of North Bubble and South Bubble are relatively short (less than a mile each), but include some steep, rocky sections. A few areas require the use of hands to scramble over boulders. Dogs and children may have trouble hiking in these areas without assistance.

The Bubbles seen across Jordan Pond.

The Bubbles seen across Jordan Pond.

How to get there: The network of trails in Acadia National Park is vast and can be complicated if you don’t have a map. The Bubbles can be hiked a number of different ways, starting at a number of different trailheads.

The most popular trailhead for hiking The Bubbles is the Bubble Parking Area on Park Loop Road, just north of Jordan Pond North Parking Area. The trail you’ll want to take is on the west side of the parking area.

You can also hike The Bubbles by parking at Jordan Pond or Bubble Pond, but it will be a longer hike. If you park at Jordan Pond, you’ll need to hike a little more than 1 mile along the edge of the pond on the Jordan Pond Path to South Bubbles Trail. If you park at Bubble Pond, you’ll hike northwest toward Eagle Lake, then southwest to The Bubbles.

thebubbles0714-3Information: North Bubble and South Bubble are two small but distinct mountains in Acadia National Park. Rising over the north shore of Jordan Pond, these two humps in the landscape appear rounded — like bubbles — and they’ve long been a popular hiking destination for park visitors.

The shorter but more popular of the two mountains is South Bubble, which rises 768 feet above sea level and is home to a mystifying landmark called Bubble Rock. Just east of the mountain’s summit, Bubble Rock appears to be precariously balancing on the side of a cliff, but the boulder is actually quite stable. A glacial erratic, left behind by a retreating ice sheet more than 10,000 years ago, Bubble Rock is thought to have originated more than 20 miles northeast of where it lies today, according to a pamphlet on the park’s geology published by the National Park Service.

thebubbles0714-14North Bubble, rising 872 feet above sea level, offers a stunning, open view of Jordan Pond, Eagle Lake and the mountains and sparkling ocean beyond. Both summits are marked with a wooden sign bolstered by a large rock pile.

There are several ways to hike to the summit of either or both of these mountains because trails on and around these mountains are connected. The best way to navigate while hiking is to use a trail map, making note of every intersection and turn as you go.

While much of the South Bubble Trail is rocky, there are some smooth, flat sections as well.

While much of the South Bubble Trail is rocky, there are some smooth, flat sections as well.

If you choose the most direct route to The Bubbles by parking at the Bubble Parking Area, you’ll hike up the Bubbles Divide Trail 0.2 mile to North Bubble Trail, on which you’ll hike 0.3 mile to the summit of North Bubble. Then you’ll need to backtrack back to the Bubbles Divide Trail and hike another 0.1 mile to the South Bubble Trail, which leads to the summit of South Bubble in 0.3 mile. Retracing your steps to the parking area, the hike will be 1.8 miles total.

If looking for a longer hike with more variation, park at Jordan Pond or Bubble Pond and navigate those trails to reach The Bubbles.

All Acadia National Park visitors are required to pay an entrance fee upon entry May through October. Entrance passes are sold at a number of locations near and in the park, including the visitor centers. For information, visit www.nps.gov/acad/planyourvisit/feesandreservations.htm.

Dogs are permitted on park trails but must be leashed at all times. Carry out what you carry in, including pet waste. Don’t tamper with cairns (rock piles) or other trail markers. For other park rules and policies, visit www.nps.gov/acad/parkmgmt/lawsandpolicies.htm.

thebubbles0714-2Personal note: Acadia National Park is the most visited park in the state, luring more than 2 million visits each year. So some may consider it brave (or crazy) of me that I decided to tackle the Bubbles, one of the park’s most popular hikes, at the height of tourist season on July 6, a sunny Sunday after a rainy Independence Day.

Driving along Acadia’s Park Loop Road — my boyfriend Derek at the wheel and our dog Oreo with his head out the window — we met vehicles displaying license plates of all different states. Unable to find an open parking spot in the Bubble Parking Area,

Jordan Pond Path

Jordan Pond Path

we parked at Jordan Pond and hiked along the east edge of the pond on the scenic Jordan Pond Path to reach the South Bubble Trail, which was just past a picturesque wooden bridge.

South Bubble Trail soon became a jumble of rocks and boulders. On the way up, we met a woman who was afraid of heights and had decided to stop climbing and simply take in the amazing view from where sat on the granite bedrock before descending. As we hiked past her, she expressed admiration for Oreo’s rock climbing skills.

At the summit, we asked other hikers if they’d seen Bubble Rock. A woman with a strong southern accent steered us in the right direction. We backtracked a few hundred yards to find the side trail that leads to the famous boulder.

Bubble Rock

Bubble Rock

We then continued on the trail to North Bubble, which is just 0.7 miles and two trail intersections away from South Bubble’s summit. Using a map in the pocket guide “Hiking Mount Desert Island” by Earl Brechlin, I was able to lead us on the right trails to the mountain’s top.

To return to our vehicle, we backtracked to the Bubbles Divide Trail and followed it to Jordan Pond Path. The wind had picked up, forming waves on the large pond and cooling us down after a hot hike in the sun, which in the end totalled about 4 miles.

The view from North Bubble.

The view from North Bubble.

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Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com.