ElevationAscent: 855' 260 m
Descent: -1' 0 m
High: 933' 284 m
Low: 79' 24 m
GradeAvg Grade: 18% (10°)
Max Grade: 74% (36°)
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Ship Harbor Trail
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“An extremely steep and rugged trail that’s well worth its namesake - one of Acadia’s classics!”— David Onkst
The best place to access this route is from the Long Pond Trail, which skirts along the southeastern shore of Long Pond. The parking lot located directly at the southern tip of the pond is your best bet for leaving your car. There is also another lot some 0.4 miles to the west of Long Pond at Gilley Field. Unfortunately, the closest Island Explorer bus stop is about a mile-and-a-half to the east at Smuggles Den, and there’s no trail that will lead you directly from there to link-up with the Perpendicular Trailhead.
This trail climbs very little for the first 0.2 miles, as it leaves the Long Pond Trail in a westward direction. But then, it starts ascending very quickly to the north-northwest. The area is well-forested, and you'll only have a few quick views beyond the trees until you get close to Mansell Mountain’s summit, which tops out at 949 feet. As you work your way up the steep and rugged eastern side of Mansell, you'll run across several series of stone stairs and iron rungs. You’ll also cross a major rock slide area, as well as have to negotiate numerous switchbacks. At times—just as the trail’s name suggests—you might feel as if you’re traveling almost perpendicular to Mansell’s eastern face.
Just before you summit, the trail will turn back quickly to the west and there will be a nice overlook. There are some great views of the western part of the park and its peaks, as well as Long Pond and parts of Somes Sound. Once you reach the top, you can take the Mansell Mountain Trail to the south, down for another a mile, until you link up with the Cold Brook Trail, which you can take 0.4 miles to the east to return to the parking lot.
Overall, this is a short, rugged, and highly rewarding route that lives up to its namesake. Those with a sense of adventure should not miss it, especially because it arguably rivals several of Acadia’s other well-known steep and challenging trails, such as the Precipice Trail, Jordan Cliffs Trail, and the Beehive Trail.
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Land Manager: NPS - Acadia National Park