To find out if your children might be interested in hiking, take them up South Bubble this spring. If they enjoy the short hike and the views, they might just become your future hiking buddies.
South Bubble rises between Jordan Pond and North Bubble in Acadia National Park. Take the Loop Road north from the Jordan Pond House or south from Bubble Pond and pull into the clearly identified parking lot.
The trail starts here. Follow it through the predominantly hardwood forest to where the trail swings left and starts uphill over stone steps. Tell the kids not to run here because the jumbled steps and nearby tree roots could snag a foot or ankle.
The trail climbs a short distance to the intersection with North Bubble Trail, a more difficult hike. Stay straight on the South Bubble Trail, which quickly reaches the saddle between the Bubbles. Veer left here, where the hardwoods give way to jack pine and stunted spruce and fir. South Bubble Trail rises east and then south through the trees. Again, encourage energetic youngsters not to run far ahead.
Then the trail levels near the summit cairn and signpost. Both sit on a low granite outcropping here parents can pose their youthful hikers beside the signpost and then photograph them. On a clear day, North Bubble looms in the background.
The South Bubble Trail continues south onto open ledges. Pick a comfortable place to unpack and enjoy a light picnic lunch. While chowing down, the children can see all the natural beauty around them. Tell them about it: That’s Pemetic Mountain on the left and Penobscot Mountain on the right. That’s Jordan Pond sparkling in the sunlight. And that’s the ocean way down there.
Children usually don’t appreciate gorgeous scenery like their elders do, so take the side trail to Bubble Rock. This is something that kids can appreciate: It looks like a big potato. Parents often photograph their children standing by Bubble Rock, a glacial erratic that perches precariously (or seems to) on the east edge of South Bubble.
The kids might not care about glaciers and erratics, but it doesn’t hurt for adults to explain how Bubble Rock got there. Ask the kids if they can imagine ice covering everything around South Bubble. That would be a lot of ice, wouldn’t it?
A child’s first hiking experience can send the youngster hiking for a lifetime, and South Bubble Trail is a great place to start.