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 activity and the 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.

14 thoughts on “Jordan Pond a special fall experience at Acadia National Park

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  11. Jeanette Matlock

    My husband & I hiked around the entire Jordan Pond on Oct. 13 (Thursday), The foliage was indeed beautiful. We did notice foam at the water’s edge in a couple places at the far end of the pond (near the Bubbles) & wondered what was causing it. We also saw lots of beaver chewed & downed trees & saw a pair of loons who dived a couple times. Unfortunately, the lens I was using on my camera was not long enough to get good photo. I had not read the chapter in your day hike book about this path & found the western side difficult, especially the granite boulders. I am not in the best of shape & overweight, yet did complete the full circuit. One thing I found disturbing/annoying was hearing people talking very loud or shouting at their children. I could even hear people shouting on the western side while I was walking on the Eastern side! Growing up, I was taught a reverence for walking in such a pristine forest & being quiet enhances enjoyment of the surroundings. Also, quiet may net you the wonderful gift of wild animals such as deer, chipmunks, etc appearing, as if just for you. Was glad to at least have the shouting at children disappear the further we got from the Jordan Pond House end. Wish the Park Service would erect signs asking hikers to keep their voices down & their kids within sight. I will be posting about our day there on my blog as soon as I get some free time.

    1. Acadia on my mind Post author

      Hi Jeanette, glad you were able to visit during what must have been peak colors, and that you were able to complete the full circuit despite the more difficult western side of the pond. Sorry to hear that it wasn’t all peace and quiet during your visit. It is unfortunate that during busy times of year, and close to popular places like the Jordan Pond House, visitors don’t necessarily know to respect nature and others’ desire for peace and quiet. A sign might be helpful, but not sure if everyone pays attention to them. Think of all the signs urging people not to disturb the Bates cairns that mark Acadia’s trails. Yet some people still mess around with them. Looking forward to reading your blog post about your visit.

  12. Jim Linnane

    Thanks for this. It is well to remind visitors and others of the many gems in Acadia’s crown.

    A couple of things. Acadia National Park’s trail crew deserves a lot of praise for their work, especially during this centennial. They have had some help from volunteers. There was a bog walk on the west side of Jordan Pond built subsequent to your 1990s visit. Much of that was built by Friends of Acadia volunteers. The replacement of that bog walk this year is also a major project by FOA volunteers.

    In connection with its plans to reduce congestion in Acadia the park service ought to consider closing the Jordan Pond House restaurant and associated gift shops at Thunder Hole and on Cadillac Mountain at the end of the current concession contract. Acadia National Park is a small area intimately connected to surrounding communities which provide plenty of restaurants and gift shops for park visitors. A lot of the congestion which NPS is seeking to address is generated by these duplicative facilities. Jordan Pond House’s status as a cultural resource ended when the NPS decided to take the concession away from a local corporation which ran JPH for decades and included George B. Dorr amongst its founders (see page 254 of Ron Epp’s biography of George B. Dorr). The facilities could be adapted by the NPS to provide sorely needed administrative space.

    I have a conflict here in that I work part-time for the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce and previously worked part time for Acadia Corporation. So be it. This would be my opinion even if I was not associated with them.

    1. Acadia on my mind Post author

      Hi Jim, thanks for that insight about the Friends of Acadia volunteers, and the role they are playing in replacing the bog walk. Will add that to the blog post.

      Interesting suggestion you have for the Jordan Pond House, although don’t think that’s among the options proposed by the park for reducing congestion, or for beefing up park administrative space. The view from the Jordan Pond House would certainly be nicer than what park staff currently sees at park headquarters.

      It looks like Asticou Inn is closed for the season, not reopening until Friday, May 19, 2017. So can’t get Acadia Corporation’s original popovers in Northeast Harbor right now either.

      I remember the first time I visited Acadia was in November, and I was sorely disappointed to find the Jordan Pond House (then run by Acadia Corporation) had closed for the season. But it certainly wasn’t crowded hiking the trails. May you find solitude on the trails now that the season is over….

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