There’s nothing quite like a walk in the woods in Acadia National Park. Everywhere you look is a thing of beauty. A blissful masterpiece, time and time again. Having lived here for close to 20-years, I am always amazed that there are new places to discover and that the “old” places never actually get old.
This past weekend felt like the start of Fall for me. Although the calendar marked its official beginning back in September, the busyness of the Summer season hadn’t quite given in yet and I hadn’t had the opportunity to spend much time in the park with the change of the season.
The air had a welcomed crispness and the leaves were starting to change. With my beloved rescue dog Luna in tow, I knew exactly where we were going. Arguably the BEST place to take your dog on the island. Though not technically a part of Acadia National Park, it is every bit as beautiful. And has the added bonus of off-leash fun for Luna: Little Long Pond.
Luna and I started today’s walk from the Upper Little Long Pond Parking area off of Route 3 in Seal Harbor. Once entering Seal Harbor and passing by the Seal Harbor Beach, you’ll drive about 0.6 miles see the Lower Entrance to Little Long Pond on your right, directly across from Bracy Cove. This entrance is marked with a large wooden gate (please don’t ever block the gate!). Drive past this entrance approximately another 0.25 miles. The road for the Upper Lot will also be on your right, marked with a small brown sign that announces the area as “Day Use Only.” Up the small hill, there is a circular drive with plenty of parking. In the height of summer, if the lot happens to be full, you can always park alongside the road. There is a wide dirt area for overflow parking.
The carriage roads begin just beyond the iron gate. You’ll immediately come to an information kiosk for the Land & Garden Preserve. This kiosk includes a map of the entire property, as well as donation envelopes.
After his arrival in Mount Desert in 1910, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. purchased the land around Little Long Pond for its scenic value. The land was privately owned until 2015 when, in celebration of his 100th birthday, David Rockefeller, Sr. donated it to the Land & Garden Preserve. The gift included Little Long Pond and the surrounding meadows, woods, trails, and carriage roads on 1,022 acres. Please support their upkeep of this amazing island resource, if you can.
Please note: The carriage roads in the area owned by the Land & Garden Preserve are NOT technically part of Acadia National Park and are closed to bicycles. But, are open to dogs being off leash, so long as they are under voice command.
Just after the kiosk on the right, you’ll see the entrance to The Friend’s Trail. Luna and I ended our walk by coming UP the Friend’s Trail, but if you’re in a hurry to get down to the Pond, you can always head down the trail first.
We headed off to the left, staying on the carriage roads. You will immediately come to a split in the trail and signpost #42. Again, if you want to head directly towards Little Long Pond, keep to the right. We went left, towards Mitchell Hill.
Here the carriage road meanders through woods, at a slight incline. The trail is a soft mixture of dirt, grass, and moss. Be on the lookout for some interesting and old trees in the woods.
At signpost #40, you can (again) choose to go right to head down towards Little Long Pond or go to the left to extend the walk. By walking to the left and heading towards signpost #33, you’ll come to one my favorite sections of this walk – there is a long straight section of gorgeous and grassy trail, with lush green mosses to the left and plenty of blueberry bushes to the right.
At signpost #33, you can make the choice to do a much longer walk and head towards the Cobble Stone Bridge or turn right towards Little Long Pond. On this particular day, Luna and I went to the right. Time to throw a stick into the water!
At signpost #34 you can choose to turn right and head back to the Upper Parking Area or continue straight down to Little Long Pond. Since Luna has the drive of a German Shepard and the water love of a Lab, we ALWAYS go to the pond.
As soon as we start descending the hill, she knows where we are going and runs ahead. About midway down the hill, you’ll see a small trail to the left and the opening to a field. The pond (and a spectacular view) is just beyond the opening.
At the bottom of the wide field, there is a small area perfect for letting a dog get in the water and several benches for sitting. You’ll also notice signage for some of the other hiking trails in the Land & Garden Preserve.
From here, you can walk back up the hill to the carriage roads and catch a steep up-hill climb to the start of the Friend’s Trail. This trail extends through the woods to some beautiful ledge outcroppings and eventually a path lined with wood chips – which leads you all the way back to the information kiosk where we started and the parking area.