Cadillac Mountain is, perhaps, Acadia National Park’s most well-known landmark, and for good reason. Standing at 1,529 feet, it’s the highest peak along the North Atlantic seaboard. The mountain also has a fascinating geological history. Cadillac’s iconic granite slopes formed some 420 million years ago, after a series of volcanic eruptions deposited debris in a nascent ocean. The rock was buried deep within magma, and brought to the surface after epochs of cooling and erosion. Moreover, it is the first place in the U.S. to view the sunrise for five months of the year (October – March). Consequently, Cadillac’s summit is a popular spot for catching a seaside sunsrise or sunset. What it is not, however, is a serene summit where you can enjoy a quiet, mid-hike PB&J with a view.

Before even considering this as a hike, I knew there was a paved road that wound up Cadillac Mountain. I knew that atop the summit was a parking lot. And I knew that it was the middle of peak season. Knowing all of that information, I still have to ask myself, ‘why the hell did you ever decide it would be a good hike?!’ Maybe it’s because we were looking for a little more distance, or maybe because it seemed like the ‘classic Acadia’ thing you just had to do. Regardless, I would never choose this hike again.

While much of the trail was surprisingly peaceful, and larger open sections did afford some panoramas of the surrounding coast, the summit was besieged with boisterous people who had driven up for their iconic view of the islet-flecked bay. I should also note that, because Cadillac is right near Champlain, you get virtually the same summit view (albeit a bit more panoramic from Cadillac’s taller crest). For posterity’s sake, here’s a summit shot with an adorable Thai mutt. It was the only photo I bothered to edit, as I was so annoyed with my senseless decision to undertake a hike that culminated at a friggin’ parking lot.

Note: If I could redo my morning hike, I would choose neighboring Penobscot and Sargent Mountains. There are a number of trails crisscrossing the two mountains, but I believe the loop I’d looked up, including both summits and Jordan Pond Path, is around five-miles. The hike looked gorgeous, and it was the one we ran out of time for and otherwise sacrificed for this disappointing trek.

Distance: 9.5 miles
Elevation gain: 1,909 feet