Difficulty: Moderate-strenuous. While the hike takes about 3 hours and is only about 3.7 miles long, the Acadia Mountain Trail is steep and requires a small amount of technical hiking (using hands and feet to maneuver over rocky areas). Also, the trail that spans between the two mountains dips down to the shore of Somes Sound. So, you really do climb two mountains (rather than simply walking a high ridge between mountains).
How to get there: Drive onto Mount Desert Island on Route 3. Turn right at the fork after the bridge onto the island, continuing on Route 102 through Somesville. The parking lot (which includes a small wooden privy), is located approximately 3 miles south of Somesville and 3 miles north of Southwest Harbor, beside Echo Lake. If you’re coming from Somesville, the parking lot will be on the right, and if you reach Echo Lake Beach Road (on the right), you’ve driven too far. After parking, carefully cross the busy Route 102 to reach the trailhead, which is marked by a wooden sign.
Information: A network of trails, including the Man O’ War Brook Fire Road, allows hikers to explore St. Sauveur Mountain (690 feet in elevation) and Acadia Mountain (681 feet in elevation), which rise above the western shore of Somes Sound on Mount Desert Island. These mountains are located in a parcel of Acadia National Park, so hikers should obtain a park pass to use the trails. Park passes are available at a number of locations, including the Acadia National Park Visitors Center at 25 Visitor Center Rd. in Bar Harbor.
A loop hike that brings hikers to the summits of both mountains starts at the trailhead on Route 102. After hiking just 0.1 mile, the trail splits. Turn right and hike about 1 mile on St. Sauveur Trail to the summit of St. Sauveur Mountain. You will meet a trail juncture with the Ledge Trail (closed August 2012) on the way up. Stay on St. Sauveur Trail. About 0.2 mile from the summit, you will meet a sign that will direct you on to the summit.
From the summit (which is marked by a wooden sign), continue on the St. Sauveur Trail a short distance and you will come to a trail juncture. Here, you leave St. Sauveur Trail behind. (If you continue on St. Sauveur Trail, you will hike down the south side of the mountain towards the parking lot on Fernald Point Rd.) Turn left to hike towards Valley Peak (which is in 0.4 mile). After just 0.1 mile, you will reach another trail juncture. Take a sharp left onto Valley Peak Trail to hike towards Acadia Mountain. (If you turn right here instead, you will reach Valley Peak in 0.3 mile.)
Valley Peak Trail soon reaches the east side of St. Sauveur Mountain and the forest opens to reveal stunning views of Somes Sound. The trail then steeply descends the northeast shoulder of the mountain to end in 0.6 mile at a junction with Acadia Mountain Trail and Valley Cove Trail. Just past the junction is a side trail that leads to an outlook (marked by a sign). The side trail leads to the shore and a small waterfall, where Man O’ War Brook enters Somes Sound. British warships used Valley Cove for shelter and replenished their drinking water supplies at the Man O’ War Brook waterfall. The side trail is not well maintained and may be hazardous.
Acadia Mountain Trail, which rises steeply 0.7 mile to the summit of Acadia Mountain. To come full circle, descend the mountain by continuing on Acadia Mountain Trail. About 0.6 mile from the summit, the trail will meet Man O’ War Brook Fire Road. Continue straight across the road. The trail technically becomes St. Sauveur Trail at this point. In 0.2 miles, you reach a fork (the same form you met at the beginning). Turn right to return to the parking lot in 0.1 mile. For information on these trails and other trails in Acadia National Park, call 288-3338.
Personal note: Well, those directions are exciting. Hiking this the first time, I turned the wrong after the summit of St. Sauveur. But after a few steps, I took out my map and turned around. The trick is to turn left and then left again at both of the trail junctures after that summit sign. Then it’s basically a straight shot to Acadia Mountain and back down the other side.
In Acadia National Park, trails connect, intersect, loop, splice and get rerouted. People can hike from mountain to ocean to lake to beach to cliff. That can either be confusing or fantastic. A map and a good set of directions helps it be the latter. The loop I hiked is just one option out of many routes that can be hiked in that area.