I’m in advertising, and we talk all a lot about the price/value equation for consumers: Will the value of the product or service offset—or surpass—the cost?
Let me help you be just as analytical about how to pick a hiking trail from among Acadia National Park’s unsurpassed network of 125 miles of trails and 45 miles of carriage roads. For example, will the value of the scenery be greater than the investment of energy on a trail?
I think the Gorham Mountain Trail gives you a great pay-off for minimal effort to get to its 525-foot peak. As you ascend, breathtaking views of Otter Cliffs are behind you.
Better and better views of Sand Beach and Great Head lie ahead. These are some of the most iconic vistas of the Maine coastline that have entranced hikers since the early 1900s, when fashionable hiking groups were drawn to these very same sights.
Park at the Gorham Mountain Trail parking lot, 0.3 miles past Thunder Hole on the Park Loop Road. As you head north on the trail, you’ll see hikers from parents with their three-year-olds in tow…
…to white-haired “wrinklies” taking a rest along the way.
It’s just a little over a mile to the top. After reaching the summit, which is clearly marked with both a sign and groups of picnicking hikers, you can back-track on the same path or make this a 4-mile loop by descending on the Bowl Trail to the Park Loop Road. Here you can join the many visitors enjoying the scenery along the easy Ocean Path, which will take you back south to your car.
Veteran Acadia hiker Tom St. Germain classifies this loop as a “moderate” hike. If you choose to go up and back Gorham Mountain Trail, I’d rank it as “moderately easy.”
What if the “price” factor in your value equation involves both physical effort and safety? For example, you might feel more comfortable sticking with walks on the carriage roads. Let’s face it. If you’re nervous about getting lost or having trouble with your footing, it could ruin the thrill of the grand panoramas and the intimate pleasures of a wooded trail.
So, let’s get comfortable about Gorham Mountain Trail. First of all, you won’t be alone. Lots of friendly hikers will be there to tell you what’s ahead. Still, I always bring a map when I’m hiking anywhere in Acadia. On Gorham Mountain Trail, there are a couple of options for side trails, so a map is particularly nice on this trail to increase your confidence as you navigate.
Secondly, the trail is very well marked. Blue blazes painted on the granite rock indicate where to go.
Lines of rock also prevent you from going in the wrong direction.
It’s called a Bates cairn, named after Waldron Bates, a leader in creating Mount Desert Island’s hiking trail system at the beginning of the century, for whom there is an honorary plaque on this trail. The pointer rock on the top of a Bates cairn indicates the direction of the trail, as does the space between the two base rocks.So, enjoy your hike! The views on Gorham Mountain Trail are stunning, the fellow walkers friendly, and the path itself historic. For me, it’s always been another big “plus” of this hike knowing that others, who share my deep respect for the beauty of nature, have shared the same trail for over 100 years.