The Western Mountains dominate the landscape in the, yes, western part of Mount Desert Island. Traditionally this area has been known as the island’s ‘backside,’ although in recent, more genteel years a movement has been underway to get people to refer to it as the ‘quiet side.’
Here one finds the most remote section of Acadia National Park on the island, accessed primarily by a dirt road (closed in the winter) that goes between the Seal Cove area and the village of Southwest Harbor. The two peaks in the Western Mountains — Bernard (1,071 feet) and Mansell (949 feet) — have been renamed for early figures in island history: the 18th-century governor of Massachusetts Sir Francis Bernard and Sir Robert Mansell (1573-1656), a vice-admiral who at one point was the highest ranking officer in the British navy. Both summits, counted among the most strenuous climbs in the park, are wooded, so the views from the top aren’t particularly good.
Hiking routes in the area include what a national park guide calls the “appropriately named” Perpendicular and Razorback Trails.
Fun Facts: The original English name given in 1630 to all of Mount Desert Island was Mount Mansell. The island village of Manset also is named for Sir Robert Mansell. Legend has it that some time in the pre-computer era, a clerk writing lazily placed one of the ‘l’s at the end of Mansell’s name sideways, over the other one, and it was read as a ‘t.’