About This Location
The summit of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, located in Bar Harbor, Maine, is a highly sought-after destination for park visitors. Rising 1,530 feet above sea level, Cadillac Mountain claims the title of the highest point on the eastern seaboard of the United States, offering panoramic views of the glaciated coastal and island landscapes. The summit overlook provides amenities such as a short, paved Cadillac Summit Loop Trail, interpretive waysides, restrooms, and a gift store. Leashed pets are permitted at the summit.
From October 7 to March 6, Cadillac Mountain is renowned for being the first location in the United States to witness the sunrise. Consequently, the overlook attracts hundreds of visitors daily during sunrise hours, providing an unforgettable experience. Sunrise times range from 4:40 am in mid-June to 6:20 am in mid-October.
Accessing the summit overlook of Cadillac Mountain can be accomplished in several ways. The most common method involves driving up the mountain via the 3.5-mile Cadillac Summit Road, situated off Park Loop Road. While ascending, visitors should be cautious of road cyclists and hikers. Notably, Cadillac Summit Road is closed to RVs and trailers. The construction of this road commenced in 1924 and opened to traffic in 1931, winding along the north and eastern sides of the mountain.
In response to the overlook's popularity, the National Park Service has implemented a vehicle reservation system in recent years, requiring reservations for cars intending to ascend Cadillac Summit Road from May to October. These reservations, available only online, serve as timed entry tickets. Additionally, visitors need park entrance passes to access the park itself. This reservation system enhances safety, reduces congestion, and streamlines parking.
For those seeking exercise and wishing to avoid the timed entry ticket system, hiking up the mountain is a rewarding option. Four trails varying in length and difficulty lead to the summit. The Cadillac North Ridge Trail, a popular choice, is a 4.2-mile moderate-rated trail with an elevation gain of 1,128 feet. Other, more challenging trails include the Cadillac South Ridge Trail, Gorge Path Trail, and Cadillac Mountain West Face Trail.
Cycling enthusiasts are also welcome to bike up Cadillac Summit Road, a challenging yet rewarding endeavor.
The geological history of Cadillac Mountain dates back millions of years when tectonic and volcanic activity pushed up more than 20 mountains on Mount Desert Island (MDI), Maine. Originally part of the Wabanaki people's homeland, Mount Desert Island saw European settlement in the 1600s. Cadillac Mountain, initially named Green Mountain, became instrumental for coastal charting. In the early 1900s, preservation efforts began, leading to the inclusion of the mountain in Sieur de Monts National Monument and subsequently Acadia National Park, with the Hancock County Trustees for Public Reservations playing a pivotal role in its acquisition in 1908.