It was a beautiful day, to begin with. We’ve had some AMAZING weather here in Maine this season. Literally perfect. DD and Willow needed a little outdoor therapy – and we’re lucky enough to live oh so close to Acadia National Park – so we decided to take advantage of our beautiful backyard. This was also a good opportunity for DD to begin her #DDs35for35 – more on that to come. 🙂
We got up at a decent time, with the intentions of leaving around 9 a.m. and we actually did. It takes about an hour and 15 minutes to get to Acadia National Park this time of year. It’s an amazing experience in the winter. Most people believe is too cold to visit, however, once you get your blood pumping you don’t even realize that you’re cold! And, the scenery is STUNNING. We hit the trailhead a little after 10 a.m. The beginning of the trail is right off of Route 198, just past the carriage trail parking lot and close to Upper Hadlock Pond (roughly 4 miles from the Route 198/Route 102 split). Look for parking areas on both sides of the road. Here’s a Google Map for reference
We parked in the little cut out along with a few other cars, and off we went! We used the Chimani app to find the trailhead and definitely recommend using it. It’s great for when you need information when you’re offline. P.S. you will not have cell service once you hit the trail and don’t forget to put your phone on airplane mode to save battery!
There are many trails leading to Sargent’s summit. We chose Hadlock Brook Trail and Maple Spring Trail. Our favorite trails in the park feature running water and this loop is no exception. If you like running water the Gorge Path and Canon Brook Trail are our other faves. Hadlock Brook and Maple Spring trails cross paths with John D. Rockefeller’s historic carriage trails, take a look around and be sure to spot the gorgeous granite bridges, which are part of the park’s magical charm.
Sargent Mountain is known for its snowy owl population, which we were hoping to catch a glimpse of. The other great thing about this section of the park is that you can visit a number of other peaks including Penobscot, Bald, Gilmore, and Parkman through the expansive network of trails. However, with daylight in short supply, we decided only to visit one this day. We took a nice water/temperature regulating break not too far in. It’s important to regulate your temps – bring more water than you think you’ll need, and be sure to dress in layers. We, of course, had our trusty .75oz Chute Camelbaks – it’s important to know that your water can freeze during the winter, so keeping your bottles warm-ish and with not many freeze points is the way to go. Be aware that bite valves freeze fast and don’t bring anything with a straw/tube and expect to drink from it! Keeping your water in your backpack or close to your body is the best idea.
The beginning of the Hadlock Brook Trail was a slow, gradual climb that follows the brook closely. There was no snow on the ground after recent warm temperatures and spots of rain and minimal ice on the trail to start. We were wondering if we were even going to need our Microspikes. Spoiler alert – we did! We came upon Hadlock Falls, one of the few waterfalls you’ll find in the park, and took advantage of the great photo opportunity.
After the falls, the trail begins to climb more steadily, became more ice covered so we decided to put on our microspikes and added a few layers. This was my, DD’s, second time on microspikes and I discovered that they don’t make me invincible. (Also known as: “HEY, WILLOW! WATCH ME AND TAKE MY PHOTO!!) and before she knew it off I went.
I slid, face first, down this patch of ice and scared the living daylights out of myself, and, of course, Willow. Being the pro that she is, she said, “Oh, no! I didn’t have time to stop you!” She scooped me up and sat me down on a rock. Thankfully, she covered me up with her jacket. Now seems like a great time for a safety tip – ALWAYS have an emergency blanket – if I had broken something, the lack of movement might have put me into shock and could have lead to frostbite. NEVER attempt winter hiking without an emergency blanket!!! We recommend this one from OpenWorld Outfitters as well as a solar blanket. Check out this one from REI. Also, don’t forget your hand warmers and a first aid kit. We needed all of these. After the excitement, it was business as usual. We ended up bushwhacking after that. I needed a little help because I kept getting stuck. I’m always good for some comedic relief…
Shortly after the ice, we arrived at the summit and took in the lovely views of Somes Sound, the Atlantic Ocean, and Cadillac Mountain. We also got to watch a snowy owl take flight and soar into the forest below. Unfortunately, it was too fast for us to photograph. We finished our climb to the summit on the open ridge-line and met some fellow hikers who had been watching the owl before our arrival. Of course, we connected with them on Instagram! We did our usual summit routine, which is a bit of exploration, followed by a bit of introspection, and always respect for Mother Earth and Mother Nature. We were in awe of the beauty that surrounds us, and true appreciation swept over us as we took in our surroundings.
It was a little blustery above treeline so we added another layer, put on our balaclavas and headed back down to the intersection with Maple Spring Trail. This trail was much icier and we carefully descended into the trees as we watched the sun get lower in the sky. After a short way, we came upon Maple Spring and the descended to where the trail follows the brook through glacial erratics surrounded by forest. This trail also crosses the carriage trails and another stone bridge.
After crossing the carriage trail one last time, the trail becomes more gradual and intersects again with Hadlock Brook Trail to bring you back to the trailhead. Overall this loop is about 4.3 miles.
After getting back to the car – we decided to head into Ellsworth to visit one of our favorite spots – Finn’s Irish Pub, 156 Main St, for some Moscow mules, Scotch eggs and mozzarella sticks. As usual, they did not disappoint! The staff, food, and ambiance are always outstanding.
Distance: 4.3 miles roundtrip
Elevation: 1,379 ft
Time: Approx 3 hours with breaks
Have you done this trail before? Leave your experience in the comments below!
Sending love + light from Maine –
DD + Willow