Difficulty: Easy-moderate. The 0.9-mile Kebo Mountain Trail travels along the ridge of Kebo Mountain, north to south, over rocky terrain. For the most part, the slope of the ridge is gradual, with just a few steep steps along the way. The hiking trails leading to Kebo Mountain Trail are easy, smooth and travel over relatively flat terrain. The total hike length varies from 1.2 mile to 3 miles, depending on where you park your vehicle and the route you choose to take.
How to get there: A few different parking areas in Acadia National Park make sense if you’re aiming to hike to the top of Kebo Mountain. The following are a few options.
Cross onto Mount Desert Island on Route 3 and veer left, staying on Route 3 and driving toward Bar Harbor. Drive about 10 miles and you’ll come to an intersection with Eagle Lake Road.
If it’s May-October, turn right onto Eagle Lake Road and drive 1.1 mile, then veer right to enter the park at the Cadillac Mountain Entrance. Turn left onto a park road and drive about 0.9 mile and park in the Gorge Path parking area (on your right). Start the hike on the Gorge Path, which you can follow north to Kebo Brook Trail or south to Hemlock Trail. Both trails lead to the Kebo Mountain Trail.
November-April, this section of the Park Loop Road is closed. During that time, one option is to park on the side of Kebo Street (also known as Harden Farm Road) off Eagle Lake Road in Bar Harbor. From there, you can pick up the Kebo Brook Trail on the north end of the cemetery and hike 0.3 mile to Kebo Mountain Trail.
You can also park at the Wild Acadia Gardens near Sieur de Monts Spring and hike to Kebo Mountain Trail on the Hemlock Trail.
Information: Rising 407 feet above sea level, Kebo Mountain is one of the shortest named peaks in Acadia National Park that can be explored by public hiking trail. Located just outside downtown Bar Harbor, the small mountain is easy to find and offers a relatively quiet hike compared to other, more popular mountains in the park.
Only one trail will bring you to the summit of Kebo Mountain. The 0.9-mile Kebo Mountain Trail travels up and over the mountain, tracing its ridge from north to south and passing over the summit, which is marked with a wooden sign set in a pile of rocks.
The Kebo Mountain Trail does not have a trailhead at a parking lot. It must be reached by hiking a short distance on either the Kebo Brook Trail or the Hemlock Trail. The distance varies from 0.3 mile to 0.6 mile, depending on where you choose to park.
If you start on the Kebo Brook Trail, you’ll walk through a mixed forest including many oak trees, as well as hemlock trees, yellow and white birch trees and the occasional spruce tree. The Kebo Brook Trail is surfaced with gravel and travels over fairly even terrain. It will lead you to the north end of Kebo Mountain Trail, which leads up a set of granite steps, crosses over the Park Loop Road and quickly ascends the mountain.
As the Kebo Mountain Trail climbs the mountain’s north slope, the forest quickly transitions to a forest of short, twisted jack pines. The trail travels over exposed granite bedrock and an orange forest floor of dead pine needles. To the sides of the trail are some delicate beds of lichens and mosses.
The trail is marked by blue blazes painted on tree trunks, and in just 0.3 miles reaches the mountain’s summit, which is forested.
Continuing south, past the summit, the trail travels along the mountain’s ridge, dipping down and then climbing to another high point on the mountain. Along the way, hikers are rewarded by partial views of the ocean and nearby mountains, and unmarked side trails lead to more open views of the nearby Porcupine Islands.
The trail then makes its final descent, traveling over a jumble of rocks and ending at the Hemlock Trail 0.6 miles from the summit.
At the Hemlock Trail, you can choose to turn left or right, depending on the route you’ve selected on your trail map.
If you turn right, you’ll hike the Hemlock Trail for 0.2 mile, then turn right onto the Gorge Path, which you’ll follow 0.8 mile (crossing the Park Loop Road) until it brings you back to the Kebo Brook Trail.
If you turn left, you’ll hike the Hemlock Trail for 0.2 mile and turn left onto the Stratheden Trail, which you’ll follow 0.7 mile (crossing the Park Loop Road) until it brings you back to the Kebo Brook Trail.
These loop hikes are between 2 and 3 miles, depending on where you park and which loop you choose.
Dogs are permitted if kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times.
All visitors to Acadia National Park are required to pay an entrance fee upon entry May-October. For a private vehicle, a pass is $25 and is good for seven days. Passes can be purchased at visitor and information centers throughout the park and Mount Desert Island. For more information about park passes and park regulations, visit nps.gov/acad/planyourvisit/ or call 288-3338.
Personal note: For much of the year, Acadia National Park is swamped with visitors. But during the park’s off season, from November through April, certain park roads are closed and visitation drops drastically. That’s when I like to get out my ice cleats or snowshoes or cross-country skis and explore some of Acadia’s trails. It’s nice to be able to enjoy the beauty of the park without the crowds.
It was 36 degrees Fahrenheit and hailing last week when I started my hike up Kebo Mountain with my dog, Oreo. To navigate the trails, I used the detailed waterproof trail map that I’d purchased at park headquarters for $10. Produced by Map Adventures, the map is much more detailed than the free trail maps you can pick up at various information centers around the island.
To tackle the ice on the trail, I wore ice cleats called STABILicers, made by a Biddeford-based company.
Kebo Mountain didn’t have much for scenic views, but it was a nice nature walk what I’d suggest to anyone looking for a quiet hike or an introduction to the terrain of Acadia’s mountains. Along the ridge, the jack pine forest was beautiful, and through the trees, I did catch glimpses of the ocean. However, I had to walk off the main trail to find a wide open view of the Porcupine Islands to the east. By the looks of the packed forest floor, I was on an unofficial side trail.
Oreo and I continued past the summit and down the south side of the mountain, then turned left on the Hemlock Trail and looped around on the Stratheden Trail, following along the base of the steep east side of the mountain. Along the way, we spooked two ruffed grouse (known by many as partridge) and a white-tailed deer. We also ran into what looked like trail work in progress, stakes tied with bright pink flagging tape and wooden boards used for building trail steps and preventing erosion.