Great Head Trail
|Distance||1.1 miles (1.8 km) mapped|
|Estimated Time||1 hr return|
|Surface Type||crushed rock, rock|
|Elevation Change||148 feet (45 meters)|
|Total Ascent||446 feet (136 meters)|
|Trail Markers||blue paint|
|Scenery Rating||must see|
|Maintenance Rating||well maintained|
|Dog Friendly||on a leash|
For directions to the park go to the Acadia National Park page.
There are two ways to access the Great Head Trail. The more popular access point is from Sand Beach. There is also a parking lot on the south end of Schooner Point Road. Sand Beach is probably the most popular place in the park. It may be difficult to find a parking spot at Sand Beach so it is recommended to use the bus system to access.
Access to the trail is at the far end of Sand Beach. To get to Sand Beach from Bar Harbor travel south on Main Street (Route 3) for 1.7 miles (2.7 km) and then turn right into the park entrance. This short access road will take you to the Park Loop Road. Turn right onto this one-way road. You will start to climb and have coastal views of the bay on your left. Continue past the small parking area on the right for the Precipice Trail. You will soon come to Sand Beach Entrance gate where you need to purchase a park pass if you haven't already. For more details on park fees go here.
Half a mile from the gatehouse is the access road to Sand Beach on the left. Park here and cross the beach to the treeline on the far side of the beach. Here you will find the trail climbing the hill. These trails take you up to the Great Head Trail. Turn right to go around the point. Turning left will take you through the woods to the Schooner Point Road Parking Lot.
To access the trail from the parking lot on Schooner Road you will need to turn left just before the gatehouse towards Schooner Head Lookoff. Since the Park Loop Road is only one way in this area you will need to buy a park pass at one of the other locations before getting here, or go through the gatehouse and drive all the way around the park loop road to get back to this point. After 200 meters on the Schooner Head Overlook Road turn right onto Schooner Head Road. Drive for 650 meters and you will come to a parking lot on the left. The Great Head Trail enters the woods in the far corner of the parking lot. This parking lot is less busy than Sand Beach but it is also much smaller.
The Great Head Trail goes around the edge of a point of land between Sand Beach and the Gulf of Maine. The section of the trail on the Sand Beach side provides amazing views of Sand Beach and the rounded mountain called the Beehive. If you look closely at the Beehive you will probably see teeny tiny people climbing back and forth up it's face.
The section of the trail on the Gulf of Maine goes along the rocky shoreline. The trail slowly climbs up along the cliff tops until you get to the wooden post that marks the peak of Great Head. At this point the cliffs are so high above the surf that you can't see it crash against the rocks below.
At this point the trail leaves the shoreline and drops down a bit before climbing back up on a ridge that crosses the point. The trail back to Sand Beach (turning left) travels along this ridge. The trail also goes to the right and loops back out near the shoreline, before coming to a junction near the parking lot on the end of Schooner Point Road. Turn right at the junction and you will soon come to the parking lot. Turn left and you will return to where the trail starts near Sand Beach.
The trail near the Schooner Point Road Parking Lot is a wide crushed rock trail but gets progressively narrower as it nears the main loop trail that goes around the point.
Other Trails in the Park
- Trail Last Hiked: October 8, 2016
- Page last updated: March 30, 2020