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South Bubble Trail – Acadia National Park, Maine


Acadia National Park, the crown jewel of the North Atlantic coast, protects the natural beauty and abundant biodiversity of Maine’s rugged Mount Desert Island, Isle au Haut, and the Schoodic Peninsula – glacially carved valleys cradle freshwater lakes and ponds, and majestic mountains stand vigil against the ages.

Needless to say, hikers find their own piece of paradise while visiting Acadia National Park and high on every bucket list is a hike to the summit of South Bubble Mountain – rising to a lofty 768 feet, the treeless summit offers expansive 360-degree views of the park’s exquisite and pristine landscapes.

South Bubble Mountain, one of two peaks collectively known as The Bubbles, is the shorter of the two peaks – North Bubble Mountain, at 872 feet, rises 104 feet higher over the azure waters of Jordan Pond.

Jordan Pond, a sapphire blue glacial formed tarn, becomes the perfect mirror, on a calm day, for the mountains that surround its shores – from the south shore you have inspiring views of Mt Penobscot to the west, Pemetic to the east, and the famous Bubble Mountains to the north, and it is from here that we began our hike to the top of South Bubble.

After an easy stroll, just over a mile around the eastern shore of Jordan Pond past a picturesque wooden footbridge, we found ourselves standing at the junction with the South Bubble Trail – a trail sign at the base of the mountain informs us that we’re 0.4 miles from the summit.

The trail starts climbing in earnest right from the beginning, gaining over 300 feet in less than half a mile – as the trail ascends, the path turns into a jumble of boulders, and eventually becomes a Class 3 Scramble ( rock climbing with exposure/requiring the use of hands). If you have a fear of heights this trail might not be your cup of tea – consider reaching the summit from Bubble Pond instead.

Once on the summit, the views of Jordan Pond and the surrounding mountains is breathtaking – the steep glacially sculpted mountains and valleys spread out across the landscape.

Great views abound, but the summit vista isn’t the only reason to climb South Bubble – perched precariously on the mountain’s eastern edge you will find Bubble Rock, aka Balanced Rock.

Bubble Rock, a massive geological feature, is an excellent example of a glacial erratic – a huge rock moved by ancient glaciers and deposited in seemingly unlikely areas. Should you ever find yourself at a loss for words at your next get together, feel free to drop that rock star into the conversation – i.e., that ice cube in your whiskey on the rocks reminds me of a glacial erratic. You’re welcome.

Finding Bubble Rock can be a bit confusing as it is found along a spur trail and not directly on the summit proper – simply keep hiking on the summit and you will find a trail sign leading the way to the mysterious rock

The rock itself is much bigger than expected, it’s about the size of a small bus, and truly looks like a bubble balanced on the edge of the mountain – round up your friends and have everyone do their best Sisyphus impersonation (you know, the Greek mythology guy condemned to roll a huge boulder uphill). Makes for some great pics!

Take your time enjoying all the summit of South Bubble has to offer and then simply retrace your steps for a roundtrip hike of 3.2 miles - don’t miss this hike if you’re visiting Acadia, it’s a must do!

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