Updated: Oct 8, 2022
A SUMMIT & A SNACK:
A new blog series about hikes near good places to eat.
I think we can all agree that hiking makes us hungry. But as it so often goes, it can be tough to find quality restaurants in mountain towns. If you find yourself ravenous after a long hike, you may be forced to scour the shelves of the nearest gas station for something that's less than satisfying...and hardly counts as real food. I've been there - about a thousand times. "Why not just pack more food" you say? Because to be perfectly honest, sometimes I'm a lazy packer. Plus, It's much more fun to stop and pay for someone else to make my food. So, I'm starting a new series about great hikes with equally satisfying post-hike meals at local restaurants.
We'll start this series off with my new favorite: Penobscot Mountain in Acadia National Park.
Each year, we go to Bar Harbor with about 25 + relatives for a family reunion. We stay in the same cabins on the same sweet cove. It's something my husband's family has been doing for more than 30 years - I am on (I think?) year 19. With such a large group, it's not always easy to organize a hike. But this year, we did it...a very small group of us.
My sister-in law, Molly, suggested the Penobscot loop. She used to spend summers working as a kayak guide in Acadia and this was one of her favorites - it's now one of mine. It offers gorgeous ocean/island views, rock scrambling, a highly exposed summit, and a mountain top lake (you heard it). This hike is high reward for a short time commitment. To top it off, this hike ends at the Jordan Pond House Restaurant, offering fresh squeezed lemonade and their infamous popovers...enjoyed on a beautiful lawn overlooking Jordan Pond. Can this get any better??
Parking can be tricky this time of year - and even trickier as tourist season progresses. We arrived at the Jordan Pond Parking lot around 9:00 and had no trouble finding a spot. This was a relief, because sometimes the lot is full. And so is the overflow parking. There is also a chance that this trail is closed for peregrine falcon nesting. For updates, here's the link:
Once you've checked the link above, know that the trail is open, and found your easy parking spot, head down the dirt path to the left of the Jordan Pond House. This will take you down to the Spring Trail and a small bridge.
Cross the bridge and head straight at the intersecting paths, which will bring you to the Penobscot Mountain Trail towards the Jordan Cliffs. The trail is flat initially, but soon turns into a steep climb.
Soon enough, however, you will have reached the more gradual Jordan Cliffs, with ocean/island views, views of the pond, and open, exposed rock for what feels like a mile (but it's hardly a mile).
Once you've reached the summit (1,181 ft), continue on, following the trail back down to a ravine. Once here, you will see a sign pointing right towards the carriage trails. We will return to this spot, but first continue straight between a wide rock crevice and up again until you've reached the magical lake, tucked in, near the top of a mountain. Cue the sounds of bullfrogs and birds. It's a truly spectacular spot.
Once you've had your fill, head back towards that sign for the carriage trails and take a left to follow them. Stay on this path, crossing over the carriage trails, all the way until you've reached the Jordan Pond Path. This path leads along Jordan Pond, landing you back at the Jordan Pond House Restaurant.
In the end, this hike took us about 2 hours 45 minutes and was a total of 4.5 miles. I couldn't find the exact route we took on All Trails, but this loop is the closest:
It doesn't include the hike along Jordan Pond Trail, which was beautiful, and I wouldn't suggest skipping.
You can lengthen this hike by adding Sargent Mountain to your loop, which would bring you up to 5.6 miles and add another summit. Here's the link for that one:
Whatever you decide to do, make sure to download your maps ahead of time. We had no service and NO GPS on this hike. Luckily, we had Molly, and after 18 years, she miraculously remembered where to go.
We ended our trip with ice coffee and fresh squeezed lemonade. No time for popovers with a full family itinerary, but I left 100 percent satisfied. Here's the link to the Jordan Pond House Restaurant if you'd like to take a look at their offerings: https://jordanpondhouse.com/jordan-pond-house/
This picture sums up the feeling of this hike. It couldn't have been better. I hope you get a chance to visit Acadia this summer, find yourself an easy parking space at Jordan Pond, enjoy this gorgeous hike, then refuel with some lemonade and popovers.