Jordan Pond a special fall experience at Acadia National Park

One in a series of historic trail highlights celebrating the Acadia Centennial

The path around Jordan Pond is an ideal hike for any time of year but it is especially beautiful in the fall.

acadia national park hiking

Fall colors light up the shore of Jordan Pond and the Bubbles.

The fall colors around Jordan Pond are spectacular if you catch them at peak, as we did on Saturday, Oct. 15.

We especially enjoyed the classic view of the North and South Bubbles, looking north from the southern shore near the Jordan Pond House, the only restaurant in Acadia National Park.

The pond is crystal clear, maybe because it is a public water supply and no swimming is allowed. The authoritative ” Guide’s Guide to Acadia National Park” says Jordan Pond is the “clearest lake” in Maine, but that could be difficult to corroborate.

The twin mountains called the Bubbles rise from the shore of the pond. North Bubble, at 872 feet, is ranked No. 13 for highest among Acadia National Park’s 26 peaks and South Bubble, at 766 feet and home to the iconic Bubble Rock, is No. 16.

acadia national park hiking

South Bubble bears a bit of a resemblance to The Beehive from this angle on the eastern shore of Jordan Pond. Both were shaped by the same glacial forces.

Like other lakes in Acadia, Jordan Pond is glacial, formed in a valley and then walled by debris.

The  “Guide’s Guide” says the Jordan Pond area contains a beautiful collection of glacial features. The massive valley between Penobscot Mountain, on the west side, and Pemetic Mountain, on the east side, filled with water to create the pond.

“The southern shore, where the Jordan Pond House sits, is a glacial moraine formed from glacial debris deposits,” the guide says. “These deposits form a wall at the southern end of the valley and create a natural dam that holds back the waters of Jordan Pond.”

Parking challenges, signs of beaver and the haunting call of the loon

Parking at the the pond can be a challenge during the summer or during a peak October day. We could not find parking in the huge North Lot, but we were fortunate to find a space not far away in a small lot off the Park Loop Road and we reached the eastern side of the pond from the little-known Bubble & Jordan Pond Path.

Almost immediately on the shore, we found a couple of trees cut down by a powerful beaver. Beaver have long enjoyed the pond.

acadia national park hiking

Someone’s been busy as a beaver along the well-graded gravel section of Jordan Pond Path, on the eastern shore.

We also heard the cry of the Loon as we were hiking along the eastern shore. That was such a treat. Many years ago, we also spotted a Merganser in the pond.

Jordan Cliffs, which rise above the western shore and are a nesting area for peregrine falcons, are also a spectacular sight.

At 150 feet deep, the pond is the deepest of the 26 lakes and ponds on Mount Desert Island, but at 187 acres, it is only the 5th largest lake in Acadia National Park.

As you circle around under the Bubbles on the 3.3-mile-long trail, you cross over a rustic-style bridge.

On the western shore, we noticed that the park’s trail crew and Friends of Acadia volunteers were in the middle of replacing some of the 4,000 feet of log bridges that are so helpful for hikers and help protect the fragile shore. These log bridges are not that old either. They did not exist when we first hiked Jordan Pond in the late 1990s.

acadia national park hiking

Some of the 4,000 feet of log bridges being replaced by the park trail crew and Friends of Acadia volunteers, along the rougher section of Jordan Pond Path, on the western shore.

The Jordan Pond House, the only restaurant in the park, is also a big attraction. We sometimes take part in the summer tradition of having tea and popovers at the Jordan Pond House and enjoy sitting in the Adirondack-style chairs on the lawn. This year it’s closing for the season on Oct. 23.

It was the McIntire family who bought the property in 1895 and began the tea and popover custom. After the rough economic years of the 1930s and then World War II, John D. Rockefeller Jr. purchased the property in 1946 and donated it to the park service. The original building burned in 1979.

People sometimes line up to get into the restaurant but it’s the natural beauty of the pond that brings us back year after year.

acadia wayside exhibit

This Acadia wayside exhibit on the observation deck of the Jordan Pond House explains the tradition behind tea and popovers.

Dolores Kong & Dan Ring

About Dolores Kong & Dan Ring

Dolores Kong and Dan Ring are co-authors of the Falcon guides Hiking Acadia National Park and Best Easy Day Hikes Acadia National Park, and also blog at acadiaonmymind.com. They’ve backpacked the 270-plus miles of the Appalachian Trail in Maine, and are members of the Northeast 111 Club, having hiked all major peaks of the Northeast. Dolores is a former staff reporter at The Boston Globe. Dan is a journalist and former Statehouse bureau chief in Boston for the old Ottaway News Service and for The Republican, the daily newspaper for Springfield, Mass. They are married and live outside Boston.