There are a lot of trails in the Jordan Pond area of Acadia, circling the pond itself and scaling the surrounding mountains. It can be tough to map out a good loop for a day hike because of the options available. My wife, Amanda, and I designed a great loop that takes you over Pemetic Mountain, The Bubbles and around Jordan Pond in one day. Not to mention, you have the option of getting afternoon tea and popovers at the Jordan Pond House when you finish the hike.
Starting Point: Jordan Pond Parking Lot
Distance: 6.1 miles
To start, park your vehicle in the Jordan Pond Lot. This lot is fills up quickly, so I recommend arriving as early you possible to secure a spot. From you vehicle, look for the nearest trail, most likely the Jordan Pond Nature Trail, and follow it down to the water. At the water's edge, you will be greeted by wonderful views of the Bubbles and Penobscot Mountain. Keeping the water on your left, follow signs for the Jordan Pond Trail. You will cross a marshy area via large rocks and arrive at an intersection for the Pond Trail on the right. Take the right for the Pond Trail, and you will start your climb of Penobscot Mountain.
The Bubbles - Jordan Pond Path
You will be on the pond trail for a short time before you will cross the park loop road. Please be careful when crossing the loop road. The parks scenery can be distracting for drivers, so I think it is always smart to wait for the vehicle to stop. After you cross the road it's another 0.4 of a mile to the next intersection. Enjoy views of mossy trunks and ferns as you make your way. At the next intersection, you will see signs for the Pemetic SW Trail on the left. This is where the climb beings.
From the intersection, the you will start to gain elevation. Take your time because it is a little over a mile to the summit of Pemetic. The trailside will start to fill with pine needles and clusters of lichen as you make your way up. In many places you will also see lime-green moss patches hugging the ground around tree trunks. After 0.6 of a mile, you will reach the Pemetic Mountain Trail. Follow the signs for the summit. As you get closer to the top, the forest will give way to open areas of exposed granite. Scattered around, you will find many plants growing in between the granite, such as Sheep Laurel, as well as cedar trees.
The Forest Edge - Pemetic Mountain Trail
As you get close to the top, the views will only get better. Below, you will see Jordan Pond stretched across the landscape. The Bubbles and Penobscot Mountain will be adjacent to the ponds shoreline. If the weather is clear, you will have views of most tall mountains around the park, such as Cadillac and Sargent Mountain. The views from the summit are some of the best in the park, but make sure you keep an eye out for trailside wonders such as White Cotten Grass with its neon green and red color.
White Cotton Grass - Pemetic Mountain Trail
The summit is a great spot for a snack or lunch break. Have a seat on the granite and let the breeze cool you down. Did you have enough rest? Good, well it's time to press on with the hike. Continue on the Pemetic Mountain Trail, making sure to stay on it at the next intersection with the Pemetic Mountain NE Trail. Do not take the NE Trail. As you make your way down, it will get fairly steep in places so watch your footing. About halfway down, you will cross a lovely fern grove. Beyond the grove, the trail splits and you have an option of climbing down a ladder into a small chasm. I recommend this option, unless you suffer from claustrophobia. It is not super tight, but if you have the option to avoid it I recommend it.
Fern Grove - Pemetic Mountain Trail
The separated trails connect again as you finish your descent down to the park loop road. Cross the loop road to enter the parking lot at the base of the Bubbles. At this point, you have a few options for how to proceed, such as climbing the Bubbles or skipping them and heading for Jordan Pond. I recommend climbing the Bubbles if you have the time. At the trail head follow the signs to start the climb. It does not matter which Bubble, North or South, you climb first because the hike continues in between the two. The climb is not very difficult, but yields wonderful views of the Pemetic Mountain, Eagle Lake, and the southern part of Jordan Pond.
Pemetic Mountain - View from the South Bubble
When you are all set with the Bubbles, head back to the trail intersection between them. Depending on which Bubble you come down, you want to get back on the trail and head away from where you came. For example, when you come down the South Bubble and arrive at a T intersection, you want to make a left to continue the hike. The trail will descend and take you down to the shores of Jordan Pond. This is the final stretch!
Once you arrive at the pond, turn right onto the Jordan Pond Path. You will cross a wooden bridge and soon enter the edge of the forest. Along the way, keep an eye out for wildflowers on the shoreline. They are small, but bright yellow or white. This is the last trail of the hike, and by far, the easiest park as well. The trail follows the edge of Jordan Pond all the way back to where you started. Just keep the water on your left and you can't lose.
As you make your way back to the pond house, the trail will occasionally hop onto raised boardwalks. The boardwalks are narrow so use caution when passing others headed in the opposite direction. At times you might need to stop off of them to allow others to pass. This is fine, however it is very easy to damage the forest floor in this area so watch where you choose to stand off trail. It is important to share the trail with others, while respecting the park at the same time.
Young Red Pine - Jordan Pond Path
The trail will meander its way back to the Jordan Pond House, which I think is a great way to end of hike. Yes, you might be a little sweaty but I think you earned an iced tea and a warm popover. There is always a short wait, but afternoon tea and popovers are worth it 100%. From the pond house, you can make your way back to the parking lot by following signs. In one day, you climbed three peaks and walked around Jordan Pond. Not bad at all!