Need a break from the relatives? Want one more hike in 2010? Head to Acadia National Park for a quick loop with sweeping ocean views.
The trail around Great Head, with or without a trip across Sand Beach, is great any time of year. But in winter, the solitude punctuated by crashing waves makes this hike a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
You can reach the trail many ways. A good one is to park at Sand Beach and walk across the sandy strip looking for shells and sea glass washed ashore by winter storms. You have to cross a stream at the end of the beach, which can be difficult if the water is high.
After the stream, look for a trail heading up the headlands. The trail to your right takes you directly to the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic. Be careful of icy spots that are common on this trail.
If you head to the left, you’ll go through the woods and come to a signpost that says “Great Head” on the right. The trail, a short distance from the shore, also takes you to the cliffs high above the ocean, where you’ll find the foundation of an old tea house. It was part of the large parcel, including Great Head and Sand Beach, that financier J.P. Morgan gave to his daughter.
On either trail, you can complete the loop or go back the way you came to get back to Sand Beach.
Alternately, you can park at the gate on Schooner Head Road and walk along the road to the Great Head trailhead. This route leaves Sand Beach as an optional, but recommended, add-on.