A moderate out-and-back hike to the highest point both at Acadia National Park and on the eastern seaboard. The trail is mostly exposed, providing hikers with sweeping vistas of Bar Harbor, Frenchman Bay, and the Schoodic Peninsula. This hike is a popular option for sunrise and sunset, but carry appropriate gear and headlamps when hiking at dawn, dusk and dark.
- Distance: 4.4 miles round trip
- Terrain: Granite slope and stairs, rocky trail
- The hike can begin in two places, both from the Park Loop Road.
- First option (recommended): Take Kebo Brook Trail from the Island Explorer bus stop for .1 miles. Turn right up the stone stairs, cross the road, and continue onto the Cadillac North Ridge Trail.
- Second option: Just past the start of the one-way section towards Sand Beach, there is a small pull-off on the left side of the road. Parking is extremely limited. Cross the road onto the Cadillac North Ridge Trail and gently ascend up a granite slope into the woods.
- After 1 mile, the trail enters the woods, it becomes more rocky, with a few sets of granite stairs. Watch your footing through this section, as it can be tricky.
- After 0.3 miles, the hike becomes steeper and more exposed. This gives hikers more of a challenge, but also more of a reward with sweeping views.
- The trail parallels the road for a short section. Follow blue blazes and Bates cairns to stay on the trail.
- Continue along granite slopes until the trail flattens out near the summit.
- At the fork shortly before the summit, keep right. Continue for 0.1 miles to complete the Cadillac North Ridge Trail.
- The trail ends on the north side of the summit parking lot. From here, hikers can walk .5 miles around Cadillac Summit Loop for sweeping vistas of the east side of the mountain or hike a bit up the Cadillac South Ridge Trail to reach the summit marker. Services at the summit include a restroom and gift shop.
- Return to the north side of the parking lot and follow the Cadillac North Ridge Trail back down to the trailhead. Please note there is no public transportation to and from the summit of Cadillac Mountain.
The hike is 4.4 miles round trip. Duration, or how long a hike takes, depends on your pace, how frequently you stop, and the terrain. For an average pace, this hike takes 2.5 to 4 hours.
Dogs must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet.
The Trailhead: Where to Begin
- Cadillac North Ridge Trailhead or Kebo Brook Trailhead
Getting to the Trailhead:
By car: After reaching Mount Desert Island on ME Route 3, stay to the right to follow ME Route 3. Continue for 7.5 miles, then turn right at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center entrance. Take a left at the stop sign and follow the Park Loop Road for 3 miles. Parking is available at a pull-off near the start of the one-way section of road going towards Sand Beach. There are limited spots and often fills up early.
By bus: Take the Island Explorer (mid-June to October) to Cadillac North Ridge. From the bus stop, follow the Kebo Brook Trail for .1 miles to intersect Cadillac North Ridge Trail. Check bus schedules for times and routes. Due to popularity and limited parking, public transportation to this trailhead is recommended.
There are no accessible restrooms at the trailhead.
Trail Safety Tips
- Check trail elevation profile or a topographic map before hiking.
- Bring a map, water, snacks, compass, and extra layers for unpredictable changes in weather.
- Reduce the chance of picking up ticks by staying in the center of the trail, and not stepping on soils and away from brush.
- Always do a tick check after visiting the park.
- Closed-toe, good traction shoes recommended because most trail surfaces are very unlevel.
- If hiking before dawn, after dusk, or at night, be prepared with flashlights and headlamps.
Last updated: October 20, 2020