A mile to the south of Schooner Head is Great Head, which an 1871 travel guide to the Maine coast called “the finest headland on the island, and the highest, it is said, between Cape Cod and New Brunswick.” By 1910 the banker J. P. Morgan owned not only Great Head but also Sand Beach, just below it to the west, and gave both of them as a present to his daughter Louisa Satterlee and her husband Herbert. The Satterlees left the end of Sand Beach closest to the Ocean Drive open to the public, and built several cottages on the property as well as a stone tea house (18 feet high by 15 feet wide) at the 145’ summit of Great Head.
The Fire of ’47 sped south all the way here from the village of Bar Harbor in less than three hours, and destroyed most of their property; only the foundation of the tea house can be seen today. Two years later Great Head became part of Acadia National Park.
An enjoyable loop trail, which the park classifies as moderate, circles around Great Head in less than two miles, providing excellent ocean views along most of the way. The trail can be accessed from either the eastern end of Sand Beach or a parking lot just beyond the end of Schooner Head Road.
Fun Facts: The most famous worker on the tea house construction project was a mule named Melba, who hauled some 30 tons of building material up the trail to the summit. One of the rock climbing routes on Great Head is named Melba, presumably in her honor. Sand Beach and Great Head made a nice present, but when he died in 1913, J. P. Morgan left Louisa and Herbert Satterlee a sum in his will that, adjusted for inflation, today would be worth almost 90 million dollars.