Cadillac Mountain is the largest and tallest mountain in Acadia National Park, rising roughly 1522 feet above sea level. No trip to Acadia would be complete without a visit to the summit, and while there are four strenuous hiking trails that lead to the top, most tourists will opt for the easier option of driving up the Cadillac Summit Road. At the summit is a large parking lot, restrooms, and even a gift shop. A leisurely stroll along the paved Cadillac Summit Loop Trail offers wonderful views of the surrounding areas. The top of Cadillac Mountain is one of the first spots in the United States to get hit by sunrise. As such, it's an amazingly popular spot to catch daybreak.
IMPORTANT: Reservations are now required to drive to the summit of Cadillac Mountain during tourist season. To reserve tickets for a specific time slot, please see the recreation.gov site. (In previous years, the Cadillac Summit Road was so popular, it often devolved into a nightmarish traffic jam. The newer reserveration system attempts to alleviate unmanagable gridlock.)
|Rating:||Short and easy family stroll on a paved path|
|Access:||Cadillac Mountain summit parking lot|
|Time Required:||30 minutes|
|Elevation Change:||mostly level|
|Seasons:||Spring through fall|
To drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain, enter the park at the Cadillac Mountain Entrance (the intersection of Eagle Lake Road/Route 223 and the Park Loop Road) and head south on the Park Loop Road. (The Park Loop Road is two-way in this section of the park.) Roughly 1.1 miles later, turn left (east) at the sign for Cadillac Mountain It is roughly 3.5 miles up the winding Cadillac Summit Road to get to the parking area at the top. Along the way are several scenic pullovers with stopping for, including a west-facing lot roughly .3 miles from the top that offers great views to the west. Please note that while there is a large amount of parking, traffic can get pretty bad during midday in the summer months.
Once parked, walk one of the paved paths to the highpoint of the mountain for great views of the entire surrounding area. The Cadillac Summit Loop Trail is a nice leisurely paved path that loops around the summit and has several informational plaques describing the geology and history of the area. While you are free to explore on the granite, please obey any "do not hike here" signs and roped off areas and do not trample any of the fragile vegetation. A stroll along this trail may inspire you to hike some of the more strenuous peak trails in the park!
One of the most popular activities in Acadia is to take in a sunrise from the top of Cadillac Mountain. For intrepid tourists, hikers, and photographers who aren't afraid to wake up in the 4am hour, the early morning drive up the Cadillac Summit Road may feel like rush hour, but the experience is worth it. Crowds of people flock to the peak to watch the sun make its first appearance above the horizon. Most people congregate by the summit marker, but if you want a bit more space, hike down the Cadillac Summit Loop Trail a bit and you should be able to find a less populated spot. A few minutes after the sun appears, the majority of people quickly leave and the summit becomes quiet again.
The summit of Cadillac Mountain is one of those "must see" spots in Acadia and it's even better if you can catch it for sunrise. On a morning with interesting clouds in the sky, the view is spectacular! But due to its epic popularity, the road to the summit can often turn into a gridlock traffic nightmare during the popular summer tourist season.