Acadia National Park’s South Bubble is a short but sweet hike with sweeping views of Jordan Pond and the famous Bubble Rock. The hiking distance can be under a mile with elevation less than 800 feet which makes this hike accessible to anyone in reasonable shape. We were spending a long weekend in the park and decided to bike to the trailhead which burned a few more calories but only added to the experience.
Most of my hikes usually involve waking up at 4 am then driving 3-4 hours to get to the trail head; things were different in Acadia. Our group of 16 woke up one by one and began gathering in one campsite to enjoy a leisurely breakfast of French toast cooked over an open fire. I had no idea what time it was since no one had a watch. We all decided this would be a great day for biking and hiking and that South Bubble would be a great climb and ride. That is how plans are made in Acadia.
The weather was in the mid 60s with plenty of fog and the threat of rain. I packed my rain gear, a fleece jacket and plenty of food and water since I had no idea as to what kind of conditions lay ahead. This seems par for the course in Acadia where weather conditions can change rapidly.
Our small peloton of bikes assembled for the ride on the Park Loop Road to the Bubble Trail head. I was riding my mountain bike that had not been used in 15 years and promptly snapped the chain in half as soon as I tried pedaling it. Thankfully there were a few bike mechanics in our crew and my chain was fixed, with one less link, in minutes. The Park Loops Road is bordered by beautiful woods and ocean views which provided plenty of inspiration for the frequent climbs that we found ourselves struggling up. It was times like these when I wish I was riding my road bike instead of a mountain bike.
We found ourselves at the Bubble trail head a few miles and many climbs later. We were certainly warmed up and welcomed the chance to get off the bikes for some hiking. It took a little creativity to secure our mass of bikes, but the engineers in our group made short work of it.
The South Bubble summit can be seen from the trailed head which provided plenty of assurance that this would be a short but sweet hike. The trail starts with a gentle down slope that leads to the edge of Jordan Pond. This landlocked pond is one of the park’s most famous sights and is usually combined with a visit to the Jordon Pond House Restaurant. After the pond, the Bubble Trail makes a sharp turn that leads to very steep and rocky climbing. We encountered several rock climbed on our way up and made sure to look at the increasingly beautiful view of Jordan Pond behind us.
We stopped for lunch at a ledge just shy of the South Bubble summit. This spot marks the end of the steep climb and provided an expansive view of the pond and surrounding area; a perfect place for lunch. We downed PBJs, Pop Tarts, Chex Mix, and Cliff Bars as we prepared to push on for the final 100ish flat yard to the South Bubble summit. The summit is less breathtaking than the view from the ascent but we were happy to be there. From there we headed over to Bubble Rock. This is a glacier deposited boulder that sits on the edge of a cliff and seems like it could fall at any second; although my bet is that it will be there for awhile.
The trip down was a bit more gradual without any significant views. The short distance and easy grade made us feel like we got to the parking lot in just a few minutes. I have no idea how long we spent on the trail but it definitely didn’t feel like long. If you do this hike I recommend descending down the steeper side of the Bubble Trail to take full advantage of the beautiful views.
We got on back on the bikes for the ride back to the campsite. This area of Acadia has over 40 miles of unpaved carriage roads that are scenic and car free. We chose to ride home on these to avoid using the same route twice. Now I was glad I brought the mountain bike. We chose a route that went along the lake and then into the woods, with a few more hills then we expected. It was relaxing to not have to worry about passing cars. The scenery of these makes makes them one of my favorite spots in the park.
We enjoyed the carriage roads for a few miles and then took a single track shortcut to get back onto the Park Loop Road that led back to our campground. We rode back into camp, put the bikes away and began gathering in the campsite to make dinner. This is how life works in Acadia, I could certainly get used to that!
If you drive to the trail head, this is a great hike to do if you have an extra hour or two in Acadia. It is also a great way to get the hiking experience without going to far into the wilderness. I recommend trail runners or hiking boots to deal with the rocky climbing along with plenty of food and water. You should also bring a waterproof jacket and a fleece but hopefully you won’t need those.