Get your Sisyphus impersonations ready. You will be hit with the irresistible urge to take photos of yourself and companions appearing to be pushing a big boulder uphill. Then rest up from the endless task in front of fabulous views.
The Bubble Rock Download
Highlights: An unusual glacial eratic (see story), South Bubble summit, 360-degree views of Acadia National Park and leashed dogs allowed.
Travel Time (from Urban Centers to Park/Trailhead): About 3 hours from Portland (with tolls), 4 hours 45 minutes from Boston.
Nearby Supplies and Gas: Bar Harbor.
Difficulty: Somewhere between easy and moderate. The trail generally is a nice, easy stroll, but all the climb is concentrated in a short stretch.
Distance: 2 miles (out and back).
Entrance Fees: $20 per vehicle (for one week), $5 for individuals (walk, bike, etc.), various passes.
Top Elevation: 768 feet.
Elevation Gain: 340 feet.
Trailhead Waypoint: 44.341088, -68.250520
Maps: USGS Acadia National Park and Vicinity.
Getting There: Take Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park, 2.3 miles past Cadillac Mountain Summit Road. Turn into the parking lot with the Bubble Rock sign, one stop south of Bubble Pond, a similar sounding destination.
(NOTE: Clicking on an image will launch a full-sized version).
By the time you get to the Bubble Rock parking lot, you will have peeped the iconic Acadia National Park scene of two mounds at the end of Jordan Pond. Even if you haven’t stopped at Jordan Pond, you’ll at least have seen a photograph of the Bubble Mountains (see inset) as you prepared for this visit. This hike will get you on top of one of those Bubbles.
Looking north from the south end of Jordan Pond, the Bubbles appear as if they are the same height and next to each other. You already know that I’m going to tell you this is an optical illusion. The South Bubble is the one on the right and is 768 feet tall; the North Bubble is 872 feet.
You won’t need to know any of this as you leave the parking lot and 0.1 miles in, you will pass the Jordan Carry Trail, then 0.3 miles later will take the South Bubble spur trail left at the junction. After a leisurely climb through pleasantly forested landscape, you’ll get to stretches with lots of roots and granite step that at places can be steep. It’s because of here, especially during and after a rain, that I’d think twice about hauling up small children and small dogs. Just sayin’.
The summit is marked by a wooden sign poking out of a large pile of rocks that resemble the grave of the last poor soul who tried this hike. Just east is the Bubble Rock seemingly perched precariously on the edge of a cliff (cue geography lesson No. 2): This is called a glacial erratic, a piece of rock deposited some 10,000 years ago by a retreating ice sheet. It’s also a nice term to toss out casually at your next office party.
Speaking of pulling out your flask, the next assignment is taking in the spectacular, 360-degree views. Compass ready: Jordan Pond, and the Atlantic Ocean beyond, is south, Pemetic Mountain is east, North Bubble north, and Sargent and Penobscot Mountains are west.
Tip: You can take extended hikes to Bubble Rock from Jordan Pond or Bubble Pond, just tacking on mileage but not much difficulty.