Located just south of the maze of trails that traverse the more prominent Penobscot and Sargent Mountains, Cedar Swamp Mountain might be the least noticed of all of the peaks in the heart of Mount Desert Island. A hike up Cedar Swamp Mountain via the Sargent South Ridge Trail makes for a great little off-the-beaten-path trek, offering great views from the exposed cliffs near the summit. This hike also gives easy access to the summits several nearby peaks as well as two beautiful carriage-road bridges, the Amphitheater Bridge and the Little Harbor Brook Bridge.
The Brown Mountain Gatehouse parking area makes for a good starting point for this hike; it is located along Route 198, less than one mile south of Upper Hadlock Pond (the only prominent pond that runs along the road) and roughly half a mile north of the junction with Route 3 at Asticou Gardens; the gate structure is one of the majestic carriage road constructions.
|Rating:||Moderately strenuous day hike|
|Access:||Brown Mountain Gatehouse parking along Route 198, less than one mile south of Upper Hadlock Pond|
|Time Required:||1-2 hours to the summit of Cedar Swamp Mountain, 3-5 hours for a complete loop hike|
|Length:||2 miles to the summit of Cedar Swamp Mountain; roughly 5 miles for a complete loop hike (depending on return route)|
|Elevation Change:||720-ft elevation gain up Cedar Swamp Mountain|
|Seasons:||Spring to fall|
From the parking area, hike the carriage road east, passing both junctions 18 and 19. Turn right at each intersection.) After less than a mile of hiking, look for the Sargent South Ridge Trail marker and take it north into the woods. (The Sargent South Ridge Trail is a long, wandering trail that heads all the way up to the summit of Sargent Mountain; Cedar Swamp Mountain could be considered an extension of Sargent Mountain's southern ridge line.)
The trail makes a gradual ascent up the spine of Cedar Swamp Mountain, wandering through pleasantly forested scenery for 1.4 miles. Near the summit, the scenery gets a lot more dramatic as exposed cliffs offer great open views of Penobscot Mountain to the east and the Atlantic Ocean far in the distance to the south. A very short spur trail off of the main Sargent South Ridge Trail leads to the actual summit marker where great views of Norumbega Mountain and Somes Sound can be seen to the west. Just past the summit, the Sargent South Ridge Trail quickly descends into the valley to arrive at the junction with the Amphitheater Trail.
A few fun options to complete the hike past Cedar Swamp Mountain:
After having tagged all of Acadia's other peaks in the area, I finally set out to hike to the summit of Cedar Swamp Mountain just so I could say I did it, but I was pleasantly surprised by all of the wonderful views along the trail near the summit area; this is a great stretch of trail! And if you have the legs, explore as many of the connected trails that you can in the area; they are all enjoyable.