One of Acadia National Park‘s most famous hikes is the Precipice Trail, which features steep drop-offs and climbs of iron rungs drilled like huge staples into the granite cliffs of the trail. Many people take this route, but it has two disadvantages. One, it is closed for a large part of the season due to peregrine falcon habitat protection. And two, many people take this route. A ranger in the visitor center directed us to another challenging alternative, the Jordan Cliffs / Penobscot Mountain loop.
The trail begins in the Jordan Pond area. (You can drive there, and it’s also on the shuttle bus route). The trail goes into the woods, between pines and mountain laurels with a few scrambles before reaching the “iron rungs” area. After a while, the views open up and you can see across the pond to the peaks known as “the Bubbles”.
The trail contains interesting elements beyond the rungs, including this walk down a sloping log staircase. The handrails make it easier.
There is a short ladder-like climb to a ledge, with the cliffs on one side and empty air on the other.
Up some more scrambles and rungs, and the trail intersects Penobscot Mountain trail.
We ran into another group here who had just come from Sargent Mountain. There is a good swimming pond there which they recommended. We turned in the opposite direction, down the rocky slope of Penobscot.
Great views in all directions. Return to Jordan Ponds area.