After hiking to Cadillac Mountain’s congested summit for our ‘classic Acadia’ view (facepalm), we were
keen desperate to find a more peaceful hike. I quickly searched the internet, and discovered the western half of Mount Desert Island was considered the ‘quiet side’ of Acadia. Needing to hear nothing more, we quickly shifted our focus to the less popular half of the National Park.
Many consider the scenery on the western side of the island to be less majestic. This is, perhaps, a reasonable argument, as both the mountains and coastal cliffs are significantly shorter. However, I would say with conviction that the decrease in crowds far supersedes the less dramatic landscape.
Acadia (681’) and St. Sauveur (679’) Mountains can be hiked via a four-mile loop trail that summits the two neighboring peaks. The trailhead sits right off of 102, the island’s main north-south road, just across the street from a small parking area. We opted to hike the trail in a counter-clockwise loop, beginning with Acadia and turning south along Somes Sound to St. Sauveur.
From the minute we stepped on the trail, we knew we made a better decision with hike selection. During our early morning ascent, we met only two other hikers en route to the summit. Sanchez was delighted that the trail immediately offered several steep sections with huge granite boulders for some scrambling. Arriving at the summit, we were excited to find just two hikers, with only few others arriving shortly behind us, all pausing to enjoy a snack and a peaceful view of Somes Sound.
The descent down the sound-side of Acadia was surprisingly steep, requiring a bit of scrambling to climb down the huge granite blocks. Sanchez, of course, was overjoyed with this section. She would launch herself down the vertical slabs and romp until she reached the end of her 25’ leash, turning to stare up anxiously at her far-less-nimble hiking companions.
Continuing over to St. Sauveur Mountain, the ascent and descent were much more gradual, requiring none of the scrambling we found on Acadia. This section of trail was also completely devoid of other hikers, which was such a welcome surprise after the previous day’s excursion. As we neared the summit, the trail wound around a section of open granite, giving way to lovely views of Somes Sound. Much to our surprise, we arrived almost abruptly at St. Sauveur’s summit, tucked away in a quiet pine grove with one tiny crown of granite bounded by vibrant evergreens, and not a sliver of a view in sight. Regardless of the shrouded summit, this is a lovely, less-trafficked loop that we enjoyed immensely.
Note: There are some intersecting trails on St. Sauveur, so take care to look for signs to stay on the Acadia Mountain/St. Sauveur loop. We took a left and inadvertently descended down the steep Ledge Trail, only to find that it terminated at a small parking lot about 0.8 miles from our original starting point. Not wanting to walk along the main road, we climbed back up the Ledge Trail until we reached the intersection with the main loop trail.
Distance: 5.9 miles (including an out-and-back side-trip on the Ledge Trail)
Elevation gain: 1,890 feet