Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous. The hike is about 4 miles, out and back. Expect plenty of uneven terrain with roots and rocks, and stretches of steady climbing. Scattered throughout the hike are small rock formations that you’ll need to hike up or down. Some of these sections require you to bend your knees and cover a lot of vertical distance with each stride. You may need to use your hands and arm strength to propel yourself up or lower yourself down. The hike does not feature any ladders and rungs. It may be suitable for dogs that can jump up short distances.
Information: Rising on the east side of Jordan Pond, Pemetic Mountain tops off at 1,248 feet above sea level, making it the fourth tallest mountain in Acadia National Park. From its rocky ridge, hikers are rewarded with open, 360-degree views of Mount Desert Island.
Like many other Acadia mountains, Pemetic features multiple hiking trails. The Pemetic South Ridge Trail and Pemetic North Ridge Trail trace the mountain’s long, rocky ridge, meeting at the summit. Branching off those trails, the Pemetic Northwest Trail and the Pemetic East Cliff Trail offer hikers two other ways to explore the mountain.
For this column, I’ll focus on the 1.2-mile Pemetic South Ridge Trail, which is reached by hiking parts of the Jordan Pond Trail and a connector trail called the Bubble and Jordan Ponds Path. Out and back, the trek is about 4 miles total.
The hike begins at Jordan Pond boat launch. Across the water are two distinct hills called The Bubbles. To the left of The Bubbles is Penobscot Mountain, and to the right is Pemetic Mountain.
Turn right onto Jordan Pond Path and follow it east along the south shore of the pond. After about 0.3 mile of easy walking, you’ll cross a stone bridge, then turn right onto Bubble and Jordan Ponds Path, which is marked with a cedar post sign. This sign is easy to miss because the words “Pemetic Mountain” are on the other side of the sign when you’re approaching it from this direction.
Traveling away from the pond, Bubble and Jordan Ponds Path passes through a beautiful forest filled with tall spruce trees. Though surfaced with gravel, this trail is a bit rougher than the Jordan Pond Path. Watch out for exposed tree roots. In about 0.1 mile, the trail crosses the Park Loop Road, then dives back into the forest to cross a wooden footbridge over a babbling brook. The trail then travels gradually uphill over shallow, pink granite steps, reaching the trailhead to Pemetic South Ridge Trail about 0.5 mile from Jordan Pond.
The Pemetic South Ridge Trail starts out on a gentle slope criss-crossed with exposed tree roots, and then it becomes increasingly steep and rocky. Moving up the mountain, the trail travels over stretches of exposed bedrock and dips into sections of shaded forest. Spruce and cedar trees are abundant throughout the hike, as are a variety of grasses, lichens and low-lying bushes such as low-bush blueberry, juniper and sheep laurel.
About 0.6 mile up the trail, you’ll come to the intersection with Pemetic East Cliff Trail. By then the terrain will have opened up, allowing you to see far in all directions. To your right is the long south ridge of Cadillac Mountain; to your left is Jordan Pond and Penobscot Mountain; and behind you is the Atlantic Ocean, dotted with Sutton Island and the Cranberry Islands.
Marked with blue blazes and rock piles called cairns, Pemetic South Ridge Trail continues gradually up for another 0.7 mile to the summit, which is marked with a wooden sign. If you walk just past the summit, a new view opens up to the north of The Bubbles and Eagle Lake.
Some hikers choose to continue and hike down on the Pemetic North Ridge Trail, which leads to a parking lot on Park Loop Road. If using the Island Explorer Bus to get around the park, this wouldn’t be a problem. But if you parked at Jordan Pond parking lot, you’ll have to hike another 2 miles on carriage roads and trails to reach your vehicle.
All visitors to Acadia National Park are required to pay an entrance fee upon entry May through October. Park passes are available at several locations on the island, including park visitor centers. Dogs are permitted on most park trails on a leash no longer than 6 feet. As always, pick up after yourself and your pets, including their waste.
For information, call 207-288-3338 or visit nps.gov/acad.
Personal note: The weather report called for an unusually warm winter day on March 3, with temperatures climbing into the 50s. Eager to soak up the sun and spring-like weather, I planned an outdoor adventure on the coast, where I knew there’d be little to no snow.
It wasn’t difficult to convince my husband, Derek, to play hooky from work and join me for the day. “I think my boss will let me go,” he told me. As an apartment building owner and renovator, he’s his own boss.
I had initially planned to leave my dog, Oreo, at home because I was concerned about the amount of ice on the mountains in Acadia. But when he registered that I was wearing hiking gear, he trailed me around the house giving me puppy eyes. “Alright,” I surrendered. “Go find your collar.”
Fortunately, my chosen trail for the day — the Pemetic South Ridge Trail — is south facing. That means it gets a lot of time in the sun, so much of the ice on its slope had melted away. It was only in the shaded forest that we met an abundance of ice and had to strap on our ice cleats. Oreo managed just fine.
It was strange to see only three cars in the Jordan Pond parking lot. In the summer, it’s often filled up. That day, we didn’t see any other hikers on Pemetic, but we did encounter a few red squirrels, mourning doves, chickadees and dark-eyed juncos.
As we hiked, we shed our layers. By the time we reached the summit, we were wearing T-shirts. The sky was clear, but the view was obscured by a thick haze or fog rising up from the land and water. Still the scenery was spectacular. At times the dramatic slopes of neighboring mountains appeared so close you could reach out and touch them. The rough icy surfaces of Jordan Pond and Eagle Lake interrupted the sea of evergreens below. And a tiny half moon hung in the bright blue sky.
How to get there: The closest parking area to Pemetic South Ridge Trail is at the south end of Jordan Pond, which is off the Park Loop Road. During the winter, much of this road is closed to vehicle traffic, but a route leading to Jordan Pond is still open. The winter directions are: From Route 3 in Seal Harbor, turn onto Jordan Pond Road. Drive 0.8 mile, then turn right onto Stanley Brook Road. Drive a few hundred feet, then turn left onto Park Loop Road. Drive about 0.5 miles to the parking lot at Jordan Pond House, and another 0.2 mile to a second parking lot.
When the Park Loop Road is open (spring through fall), start at the intersection of Route 3 and Route 233 in Bar Harbor, then head southwest on Route 223. After 1.2 miles, turn left onto Park Loop Road. Drive about 5 miles and the Jordan Pond parking lots will be on your right.
For more of Aislinn Sarnacki’s adventures, visit bangordailynews.com/act-out. Follow Aislinn Sarnacki on Twitter: @1minhikegirl, and Instagram: @actoutdoors. Her guidebooks “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine,” “Maine Hikes Off the Beaten Path” and “Dog-Friendly Hikes in Maine” are available at local bookstores and wherever books are sold.