Hiking: Mansell Mountain via the Perpendicular Trail | Acadia National Park, ME | 11/7/2009

After having read several guidebooks talking about how spectacular the Perpendicular Trail was, we decided that we had to try it. The trail runs from the southern end of Long Pond on the western side of Mount Desert Island and climbs Mansell Mountain at 949 feet. From there we continued along the ridge trail down to Great Notch, over Knight's Nubble and down to the Sluiceway. From there we took the Sluiceway Trail to its connection with the Great Notch Trail and down to Gilley Field area. Then it was the Cold Brook Trail back to the car at the lot at the end of Long Pond.
Perpendicular Trail/Mansell Mountain Hike 11/7/09
The trip starts out easy enough on the Great Pond Trail which follows the western shore of Long Pond. After a few tenths of a mile though, the Perpendicular Trail turns off and begins climbing along the face of Mansell Mountain. Just about right away, you figure out where it got its name and why all the guidebooks drool over how well built the trail is. With regards to perpendicular, the trail pretty much goes straight up the across the topography and when it comes to trail building, it's like climbing a staircase up the mountain. Literally, the trail is that well constructed and just about the entire hike is step after step.

Perpendicular Trail/Mansell Mountain Hike 11/7/09
Perpendicular Trail/Mansell Mountain Hike 11/7/09
Perpendicular Trail/Mansell Mountain Hike 11/7/09

The higher you climb on the face of Mansell, the better the views down to Long Pond and across to Beech Mountain get.

Perpendicular Trail/Mansell Mountain Hike 11/7/09
Perpendicular Trail/Mansell Mountain Hike 11/7/09

The trail is not as exposed as other Acadia trails like the Beehive or the Jordan Cliffs Trails. Instead there are some steep sections and some open areas, but you are climbing on the manmade rock steps the entire time, so you do not have to really stretch your hiking skills to make it up.

Perpendicular Trail/Mansell Mountain Hike 11/7/09

The actual summit of Mansell Mountain is not all the exciting. It is pretty much completely wooded over and only marked with a small sign letting you know you have reached the summit. The better view is a few tenths of a mile before the summit and offers views down the lake, across to the ocean and of Beech Mountain.

Perpendicular Trail/Mansell Mountain Hike 11/7/09
Perpendicular Trail/Mansell Mountain Hike 11/7/09

I cannot say that the climb up Mansell is all that difficult thanks to the thousands of rock steps, but it is a hell of a lot of climbing. You are basically starting at sea level and I know my leg muscles sure felt all those stairs the next day.

From Mansell we dropped down into Great Notch. There are a few steep sections and the trail is nowhere near as well built as the Perpendicular Trail is. Expect some open rock sections, muddy areas and a few steep sections that can be a bit tricky. There's also a nice open area about halfway down to the notch that gives you views to the north.

Perpendicular Trail/Mansell Mountain Hike 11/7/09
Perpendicular Trail/Mansell Mountain Hike 11/7/09
Perpendicular Trail/Mansell Mountain Hike 11/7/09

From Great Notch we continued on up Knight's Nubble, which is really just a bump on the side of Bernard Mountain, though there are a few steep sections and again, the trail is more typical of northeastern trails - that is, rough, steep and rocky instead of perfectly manicured like the Perpendicular Trail.

Perpendicular Trail/Mansell Mountain Hike 11/7/09
Perpendicular Trail/Mansell Mountain Hike 11/7/09

At Little Notch we could have climbed up Bernard Mountain, but we did not want to backtrack back down to the notch since the trail that continued around the mountain would have taken us a lot further west than we wanted to be, so instead we dropped down the Sluiceway Trail.

Perpendicular Trail/Mansell Mountain Hike 11/7/09

This trail was in a lot better shape and at first follows a small creek through a "sluiceway" down the notch. After hitting a bench, the trail turns away from the creek a bit and drops down steeply following the creek, which is just to the west of the trail. The trail eventually reaches the trail junction with the Great Notch Trail Connector. It is not exactly clear from the maps or the guidebook how this intersection works and we actually got confused a bit.

Perpendicular Trail/Mansell Mountain Hike 11/7/09

The initial intersection is the junction with the connector trail. The sign says Great Notch, but the trail brings you to the intersection with the Great Notch Trail after a few tenths of a mile. From here, you can either head up to Great Notch or down to Gilley Field. We went down and followed the trail

Perpendicular Trail/Mansell Mountain Hike 11/7/09

The rest of the hike was pretty uneventful and basically pretty boring. Once the trail reaches the parking area at Gilley Field, you get on the Cold Brook Trail which takes you back to Long Pond. This trail just heads through the woods descending slightly towards the pond. No views, no real interesting sights either, it is just a connection to Long Pond.

Perpendicular Trail/Mansell Mountain Hike 11/7/09

At the end of the trip we were back at the truck. The hike was somewhere around five miles or so. We climbed Mansell Mountain and Knight's Nubble and made one of the better sized loops in the area.

Another benefit was that it was early November and instead of being in Acadia with tons of crowds, we basically had the mountains to ourselves. We ran into a few other people, but nothing major.

All the photos from the hike...
Acadia National Park
More Acadia NP Hikes



Guidebooks, Maps and Hiking Information for Acadia National Park


If you are looking for a good guidebook (with maps) for hikes throughout Acadia National Park, we have been using Tom St. Germain's A Walk in the Park and found it to be a great resource.  The Maine Mountain Guide from the Appalachian Mountain Club also includes trail descriptions and maps for Acadia.  A good introduction to Acadia National Park is available online here.

Comments

  1. Great post. Nice photos. Been on those trails many times.....wonderful views! Thanks for posting

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