Credit: Courtesy of Aislinn Sarnacki

Fishing poles in hand, two kayakers were gearing up for a day on Eagle Lake when I reached its shore. The tranquil water reflected the brilliant blue sky, and a warm breeze whispered of spring.  

My plan was to hike around the lake, then up and over the Bubbles, two round mountains that stand side by side in Acadia National Park. Bubble-like in shape, they are best known as the backdrop for the famous Jordan Pond.

The Bubbles — North Bubble and South Bubble — are popular hiking destinations because they feature open granite ledges that offer amazing views of the park. In addition, South Bubble is home to Bubble Rock, a large, round boulder that’s perched on the edge of a ledge. It looks as if it might tumble down the slope at any moment. Yet it has sat there for thousands of years.

Acadia National Park, Maine — 04/11/22 — Aislinn Sarnacki and her dog, Juno, take in a view from North Bubble mountain on April 11, in Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. (Courtesy of Aislinn Sarnacki)

Due to Acadia’s robust network of intersecting trails and carriage roads, there are several ways to hike the Bubbles.

A parking lot off Park Loop Road is located at the base of the two mountains. From there, you can hike to their peaks and back down in less than 2 miles.

Another popular option is to start at the south end of Jordan Pond, then hike 1.3 miles along the shore to reach the mountains. Overall, that’s a 3.5- to 5-mile hike, depending on whether you hit both peaks or only one.  

I opted for a third and longer option on that sunny day in early April. Starting at the north end of Eagle Lake, I hiked just over 7 miles in order to hit the summit of both North Bubble and South Bubble. The route also carried me over Conners Nubble, a distinct, rocky hill that sits just north of North Bubble.

My dog, Juno, joined me on the adventure. I was worried that some sections would be too steep and rocky for her, especially on Conners Nubble, but she seemed enthusiastic and confident throughout the hike.

To my surprise, the most challenging part of the hike for Juno, and myself, was the 1.2-mile section of trail that traces the southwest shore of Eagle Lake. A jumble of boulders and angular rocks, the trail was a chore to navigate and had me worrying about twisted ankles and pinched toes.

Acadia National Park, Maine — 04/11/22 — Juno hikes up Conners Nubble on April 11, in Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. (Courtesy of Aislinn Sarnacki)

But that was at the end of our hike. Let’s rewind to the beginning.

We started with an easy stroll on a wide carriage road, which was surfaced with crushed stone. I remained on the lookout for bicyclists and other trail users, but we met not a soul.

Along the way, I used the BirdNET mobile app to identify the calls of golden-crowned kinglets and dark-eyed juncos. And I used the iNaturalist app to identify trailing arbutus (also known as mayflower) growing beside the road, its white flowers ready to bloom at any moment.

In 1.4 miles, we veered left onto the Bubbles Trail, which became increasingly rocky and steep on its way to the open ledges of Conners Nubble. There I paused to take in a wonderful view of Eagle Lake and the north ridge of Cadillac Mountain, the tallest mountain in the park.

A wooden sign marked the top of Conners Nubble at 588 feet above sea level. Continuing on the trail, we headed downhill, crossed a carriage road, then headed up North Bubble.

The mountain featured a beautiful pitch pine forest and stretches of bare bedrock that provided open views. The summit, 872 feet above sea level, offered an entirely new perspective of the park. Jordan Pond stretched to the south, sandwiched between Penobscot and Pemetic mountains. Closer at hand was the hump of South Bubble. And the ocean stretched to the horizon, dotted with the Cranberry Isles.

Sitting on the sun-warmed bedrock, I shared a turkey and cheese sandwich with Juno, then we continued our trek.

After hiking downhill for about three-tenths of a mile, we met the Bubbles Divide Trail. There we turned right, then left, to find the trail up South Bubble, much of which is made of wide steps of wood and dirt. It was a nice break from the rocks, but it didn’t last long.

A short climb brought us to the summit of South Bubble, which is slightly shorter than North Bubble at 768 feet. From there, we followed wooden signs down a short side trail that dead-ends at Bubble Rock. Also known as Balance Boulder, it’s a “glacial erratic,” meaning it was transported to its current location by being moved by a glacier thousands of years ago.

Acadia National Park, Maine — 04/11/22 — The trail up North Bubble mountain weaves through pitch pines and around clusters of reindeer lichen and juniper on April 11, in Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. (Courtesy of Aislinn Sarnacki)

Bubble Rock was transported from the area around Dedham, Maine, according to the University of Maine Climate Change Institute. If you look closely, you can tell that it’s a different type of rock than the bedrock it sits on – a telltale sign of a glacial erratic. Bubble Rock is made of white granite rather than the pink granite that makes up the Bubbles.

From there, we backtracked to the Bubbles Divide Trail, then followed Jordan Pond Carry to the incredibly rocky Eagle Lake Trail. By the time we reached the carriage road, its smooth surface felt like clouds beneath my feet.

For information about hiking in Acadia, including trail rules and how to purchase a park pass, visit nps.gov/acad.


Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn Sarnacki is a Maine outdoors writer and the author of three Maine hiking guidebooks including “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine.” Find her on Twitter and Facebook @1minhikegirl. You can also...