Accidental Night Hiking in Acadia

For my very first hike in Acadia National Park, I decided to start out by hiking the Dorr Mountain Ladder Trail. It’s not a long trail, but with over 1,000 feet in elevation gain, I figured I was in for a workout. I was right.

I was, of course, delighted to see some of the unique features of this trail that I had never seen before. At one point, I had to squeeze through narrow rocks, while at another I found myself climbing an actual ladder.

I had arrived after work, so it was delightful seeing the island and forest on my way up as the sun was making its way down.

I was also introduced to another new trail element: carins.

One of many carins on this trail.

Carins are man-made rock formations used to guide hikers along a trail. While there were also blue spray-painted stripes every 20-50 feet to mark my path, I found the carins to be helpful.

I thought this tree looked cool.

One thing I found unique about this trail was the amount of rock-walking I did. Large patches of this trail found me walking on bare rock instead of gravel or grass.

Top of Dorr Mountain

After a few breaks and a lot of inhaling, I reached the top of Dorr Mountain.

The mountain afforded some neat views of the surrounding area.

Cadillac Mountain on the left

But when I looked across the way, I saw an even taller mountain. Cadillac Mountain. How could I resist?

Well at first I did. It was getting late and I didn’t want to return to my car in the dark. So I started to head back to my car.

But I didn’t drive thousands of miles to turn around, I thought. It was adventure time. So I turned around, making a beeline for Cadillac Mountain.

Race to Cadillac Mountain

Cadillac Mountain took me in the opposite direction of my car, and the sun was getting low.

Checking the map, I saw that Cadillac Mountain was only about 300 feet higher than Dorr Mountain. I figured I’d just be doing a slight uphill climb and I’d be at the top in no time.


Very quickly, I found myself descending, until I bottomed out in a dark forest.

Then I found myself climbing again at a steep incline. The views were even better as the sun set lower and lower.

Reaching the top of Cadillac Mountain was worth it. While the sun had mostly set by this point, I enjoyed seeing people for the first time on my hike. I even found a group of friends gathered around a guy with a guitar, which I found particularly beautiful.

With the sun almost gone, it was well past time for me to return to Dorr Mountain and then complete the journey back to my car. But on my way back from Cadallic to Dorr, I saw something that surprised me.

A Fun Surprise

I was very excited.

What I at first thought was a duck, then a skunk was waiting for me. Directly in my path. Afraid of the consequences of getting stuck by one of those sharp quills, I kept my distance and let the little guy amble away.

While the primary animal-sighting goal of this trip for me is to see a moose, I was very excited to see my first porcupine in the wild.

At Night

Pretty quickly, things got dark. I hadn’t seen a single soul on my way to Dorr Mountain, and I was sure hoping not to see anything spooky on my way back.

Some town idk

The real scary idea was getting lost. Besides the carins, I also had these blue marks to help me out.

Armed with my weak iPhone flashlight I worked my way back along the trail. I chose to take the faster way back to my car to avoid spending more time in darkness.

It was dark.

On my way back I definitely heard some nearby rustling in bushes, which could have been anything from a baby squirrel to a hungry ‘squatch. I was only a little scared.

After what felt like forever, I made it back to my car, safe and sound. Despite the added danger of unprepared night hiking, I’d recommend it. I’m glad I pushed myself to climb another mountain. The porcupine made it well worth it. Thanks, little guy.

1 Comment

  1. Opa and Oma says:

    We enjoyed it very much! Send us more. Glad you had such a good time.

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