Whether you’re new to hiking with your baby or toddler, or you’re looking for a new trail to explore, the Hike it Baby community is a valuable resource for finding family-friendly hiking trails around the country. In this article, we share three beautiful hikes in Maine to explore with babies and young children.
Images of rugged scenery and equally rugged trails are no doubt what come to mind when most people think of hiking in Maine. Rugged scenery, yes, and beautiful too, but a hike doesn’t have to be hard to find the beauty. There are plenty of fun family-friendly hikes that you and the kids are sure to enjoy. Here are three very different trails, from mountaintop to seashore, all within amazing Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, and all perfect for families with kids.
Cadillac Mountain Summit (Bar Harbor, ME)
No trip to Acadia is complete without a trip to the tallest point in the park – Cadillac Mountain. You can hike to the summit on Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail, but at 7 miles roundtrip up the 1530-foot mountain, it may not be the best way for those with babies or toddlers. Why not drive up? The peak is easily accessible by car, making it a great option for new mamas or new walkers. Here you’ll find incredible views of the park’s peaks, bays and islands without any long or steep hikes. A 0.5-mile loop trail circles the summit, allowing you to soak up the views across the park from every angle. Meanwhile, toddlers will love jumping and climbing on the rocks scattered across the mountaintop.
Due to Cadillac Mountain’s location and height, it is one of the first spots in the United States to see the sunrise every morning. If you’re able to get there early enough, you can have the opportunity to be among the first in the country to welcome the new day. (Thanks, kids, for seeing to it we get up early!) You may also avoid the crowds. At just about all other times, the hardest part about Cadillac Mountain is getting through the tourist traffic. That’s on foot as well as in your car. If you venture away from the parking lot on the trail, though, it won’t take long to leave the crowds behind. Then you’ll discover what makes Cadillac Mountain worth the visit – the spectacular views! Get more information on the trail in the Hike it Baby Family Trail Guide.
- There is a National Parks entrance fee of $30 per vehicle, which is valid for seven days. However, the park could be crowded in the summer. Consider leaving your car at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center and taking the Island Explorer Bus.
- There are restrooms not far from the parking lot.
- Dogs are allowed in most areas of Acadia National Park, including Cadillac Mountain. But please keep them on leashes at all times.
Jordan Pond Path Trail (Bar Harbor, ME)
Jordan Pond Path is an easy 3.5-mile loop around the shores of the 150-foot-deep Jordan Pond, with an elevation gain of 115 feet. Instead of taking the full loop, consider exploring the open area between the south side of the pond and Jordan Pond House. This area leads to different carriage roads, the nature trail, and the west and east side of the full Jordan Pond Path loop. At the pond split, if you take the right and travel along the east side, there’s a compact surface. The left will take you over a boardwalk on a bog that is trickier to navigate.
Overall, there is a good amount of various easy hiking options in this area that aren’t too strenuous, so toddlers could start out on this hike. If you go the distance, expect to carry little ones in areas that are close to the pond shoreline. Also, note the boardwalk areas were created to keep people off any ecosystem preservation that is occurring. Be aware of this if you have eager little hikers who like to explore off-trail. The same goes for dogs, so don’t forget the leash. For those who have double strollers, there is ample room to navigate this trail. While there are some uphill stretches, it’s totally doable. For more information, read up on the trail in the Family Trail Guide.
I loved this adventure because I felt my son really connected with his surroundings in this area. He had a bunch of open space to run around at in front of the Jordan Pond House by a section of the trail, and he loved playing in the dirt and small rocks that made up the paved path of the trail. He was being young, wild and free, and it looked so natural. I definitely felt that his adventurous spirit came out not only during this hike, but during all of our adventures in Acadia National Park! – Anna Fedorowycz
- If you drive your own car, park at the Jordan Pond North parking lot or in the smaller Jordan Pond House parking lot.
- The Jordan Pond House isn’t too far from the start of the different pond trails, so you could get some food before or after a hike. You can also use the restroom or make time for a diaper change.
- Keep in mind that cell phone service is either poor or non-existent.
Wonderland Trail (Southwest Harbor, ME)
Like the two trails above, Wonderland Trail can be found in Acadia National Park. However, this 1.4-mile out-and-back trail is longer than the loop at Cadillac Mountain Summit and easier than Jordan Pond Path. Follow the wide and flat trail just over a half mile through a pine forest to the wild Atlantic coast. Unlike many of the other more popular trails at Acadia National Park, which follow close to cliffs or have other obstacles, toddlers will be safe here. This trail is easy enough that even the newest of walkers can walk most of it on their own. Once at the coastline, the scattered pink granite rock chunks along the shore are perfect for exploring. If you time your hike right for low tide, you and the kiddos can even search for sea life in the tide pools. Learn more about the trail in the Family Trail Guide.
Acadia National Park will always hold a very special place in our family’s hearts for several reasons. One of our fondest memories from our week spent exploring the area was our short hike on the Wonderland Trail. What an aptly named hike for this magical little trail that gives visitors the sensation of being in their own world. This was such a great hike for our newly walking toddler to explore, and though the rain drizzled down on us, I have nothing but warm memories from this hike. – Bobby and Maura Marko
- Unlike the other trails, there are no toilets or drinking water available on the Wonderland Trail. Also, dogs are not allowed here.
- If you’re looking to explore more after completing the Wonderland Trail, stop by Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse a little over a mile west of the trailhead. A scenic view of the lighthouse is just a few steps down a staircase from the lighthouse parking lot.
MORE RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES WITH YOUNG CHILDREN
Maine offers an abundance of trails for families with young children. For more family hike ideas, see:
- Hike it Baby calendar (or connect with the local branch)
- Hike it Baby Family Trail Guide
- Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Bureau of Parks and Lands Hiking page
- Hike it Baby: 100 Awesome Outdoor Adventures with Babies and Toddlers – New Book by Hike it Baby Founder Shanti Hodges
If you’re in Maine and need more information or recommendations on trails or would like to join a group hike, the nearest Hike it Baby branches are in Cumberland County and on the Seacoast.
- 3 Gorgeous Hikes in New York for Young Children
- 3 Great Trails for Young Kids in Pennsylvania
- 3 Great Hikes in New Jersey for Young Children
What are your favorite hikes in Maine for families with babies, toddlers and young children? Leave a comment below!