Thing to Do

Go Earthcaching At Acadia

a view from a rocky summit looking out to another rocky summit, ocean, and blue sky
A view from Sargent Mountain


Embark on an exciting journey through time to discover how glaciers have shaped Acadia National Park!

How to Earthcache
  1. Use your GPS and provided clues to search for and find multiple EarthCaches
  2. Keep a record of all coordinates. You will need them to solve the final clue.
  3. After a successful completion you can obtain the hand-carved Acadia National Park EarthCache Program stamp imprint and enter your name in the program logbook.

What You Will Need

  1. A vehicle and a valid park entrance pass.
    1. If you are doing the earthcache from mid-May to mid-October, you will need a vehicle reservations to drive up Cadillac Mountain. If you plan on hiking to the Cadillac summit you will not need a vehicle reservation.
  2. GPS unit
  3. Detailed map of Mount Desert Island
  4. Piece of paper and pen
  5. Compass (optional)
  6. Logbook, if you are a letterbox enthusiast

Let's Begin!

Glaciers have the amazing ability to form unique features, demonstrating the immense power of massive sheets of flowing ice. Rocks, mountains, valleys, and cliffs tell a story, a story of nature and its ability to create and change the natural features we see today.

Consisting of more than 47,000 acres, Acadia National Park preserves more than two dozen glacially sculpted mountains and valleys, glacial lakes and ponds, and one fjard known as Somes Sound.

Acadia National Park was formed by a series of geological events that began 500 million years ago. As you look around the park you will notice a lot of exposed rocks. All three different types of rocks—metamorphic, sedimentary, and igneous—are found in the park. Rocks have laid the foundation of Acadia National Park and our story here. Their location, formation, and appearance demonstrate the power of glaciers.

Starting one million years ago, several great ice sheets called continental glaciers covered much of North America, including Maine, for various periods of time. The last glacial period ended 18,000 years ago. Glaciers are formed when more snow falls than melts. As snow accumulates over thousands of years, the weight of the snow compacts and causes lower layers to turn to ice. Frozen ice pack moves in the same fashion as water following the forces of gravity to the lowest point. The rate of travel, however, is much slower. The massive mile-thick glacier that covered this area moved only a few yards each year. This slow glacial movement crafted some of the most impressive natural features you see on Mount Desert Island today.

Before there was Mount Desert Island, there was the Mount Desert Range. When the last continental glacier reached the Mount Desert Range, the high mountains temporarily obstructed the forward movement of the massive glacier. The high peaks in the northern section acted as a dam, holding back the forward momentum of the glacier until additional ice accumulated and eventually spilled over the mountain peaks. The last glacial event carved the trough known today as Somes Sound, dividing the mountain range in half and giving Mount Desert Island its characteristic horseshoe shape. As the glacier continued to flow 400 miles into the ocean, it carved deep saddles in the mountains, and the erosive power of the glaciers eventually deepened these saddles into valleys. The result of the last glacial event was a reorientation of the mountain range from east-west to north-south.

Eventually the glacier thickened, and it buried the newly formed Mount Desert Island. The glacier left its mark as it continued to move along. Your journey through Acadia National Park’s EarthCache Program will unravel the story of glacial activity. Each site will demonstrate some aspect of the glacier’s sheer power to transform the landscape.

Use the clues and information provided to get from one place to another, but remember that although the glaciers have subsided and melted, the story of nature is not over. In fact, it is an everlasting story, and if we aren’t careful, our use of the land can impact nature just as drastically as the glaciers. The plants and their ecosystems that have flourished as result of nature’s story are fragile. Where we step will change the plants and ecosystem of the area, so remember that all sites are on the trail—there is no need to go off trail. Please travel only on trails or on other hardened rock surfaces.

First Clue

To arrive at your first stop, take the road that shares a name with the park’s second highest peak.

N 44° 19.110’
W 68°18.364’
This activity leads you to some of the park's significant geological resources. Using your GPS unit and a set of clues, you can guide yourself to a series of sites in the park.

For more information about Geocaching, visit the Geologic Society of America's EarthCache website.
All ages can enjoy geocaching but young geocachers may need assistance with reading the text and operating the GPS units.
Leashed pets are allowed on most trails in the park. Please pick up after your pet and dispose of any pet waste in a trash container and be aware of weather and terrain conditions that may affect your pet. 
No additional fee is required for this activity however all visitors to Acadia National Park must have a park pass or travel with someone who has a park pass. For stop three, if you are visitng from mid-May to mid-October, you will need a vehicle reservation if you plan on driving to the summit of Cadillac Mountain. You will not need a vehicle reservation if you hike up.
For stop three, if you are visitng from mid-May to mid-October, you will need a vehicle reservation if you plan on driving to the summit of Cadillac Mountain. You will not need a vehicle reservation if you hike up.
This is a three season activity. It is not recommended for winter due to ice and snow. 
Time of Day
Accessibility Information
This activity requires hiking on trails and uneven surfaces. It is not wheelchair accessible. Screen readers can be utilized to read the clues. 

Acadia National Park

Additional Earthcache Clues

Use your GPS to navigate to the clues based on the coordinates above. Only use the list below if you want to skip ahead.

Acadia Earthcache Course Stop One: Somes Sound

Acadia Earthcache Course Stop Two: Bubble Rock

Acadia Earthcache Course Stop Three: Jellybean Glacial Erratic

Acadia Earthcache Course Fourth Stop: Gorham Mountain Trail

Last updated: February 17, 2023