Gorham Mountain is a great hike with incredible views of the bays surrounding Mount Desert Island in Acadia National Park. Most people choose to link the Gorham Mountain Trail with the Ocean Path, making a 3.2-mile loop that starts and ends between Thunder Hole and Otter Cliff. It's also possible to link with the Beehive Loop, adding about 2.5 miles to the trip. Others simply head up and down the same route. With a moderate climb up to 525 feet, the trail offers some great views without the stress of the iron rung trails like the Beehive.
From the Gorham Mountain parking area, it's a 0.2-mile gradual climb to the Waldron Bates memorial and junction with the Cadillac Cliffs Trail. Bates was the lead author of the first trail map for Mount Desert Island, and he led the Path Committee of the Bar Harbor Village Improvement Association, adding 25 miles of trails to the island. He also authored the first trail handbook for trail crews on the island, which standardized trail maintenance and construction.
Just beyond the memorial is the Cadillac Cliffs Trail intersection. This trail offers an alternate, more strenuous route to the summit, weaving between narrow cliff walls, through a tunnel, and along an ancient sea cave. While it's hard to imagine the ocean reaching this height, this piece of land was actually much closer to sea level at the end of the last ice age. As the glaciers receded, the Earth slowly rebounded from the added weight of the glaciers, rising to its current height.
Shortly after the trails reconvene, the Gorham Mountain Trail follows an open ridge with excellent views of the surrounding bays and open ocean. Otter Point and Sand Beach are clear landmarks, as is the Beehive to the east. The best views are found during the climb, so be sure to stop and enjoy them. The summit is a little lackluster in comparison, marked by a large pile of rocks and a sign. Continue following blue blazes past the summit to complete the loop with the Ocean Path, or simply return the way you came.
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