This path rivals some of the park’s other cliff trails (i.e. The Precipice and The Beehive) in difficulty, but does not seem to have nearly as much of a “tough” reputation as those do. Still, it is not for someone who is afraid of heights.
Essentially, this path traverses the steep eastern side of Penobscot Mountain.You should begin your hike at the southern trailhead, just off the Spring Trail
, which, itself, only runs for about 0.3 miles from the Jordan House parking lot and Island Explorer bus stop.
Working your way up the Jordan Cliffs Trail from the south allows you to warm-up and start climbing moderately until you begin to reach the challenging crags at about the halfway point. At the start, you'll quickly cross one of the park’s many famous carriage roads and begin ascending the somewhat rocky and heavily rooted trail through a forested canopy. Just a little to your west, you'll see one of Penobscot Mountain’s many streams. It won’t take long before you come across several intermittent exposed cliffs that look eastward over Jordan Pond and toward The Bubbles. About halfway up the trail, you’ll hit a series of several stairs and handrails. Eventually, they will take you down just a bit before you begin your final ascent over the more technical cliff section of the path. The last part of the journey—and the highlight for many—is a steep climb up a fixed iron rung ladder. When you reach the top of the trail, which finishes on a large cliff with great vistas, you get one of the most iconic, picture post-card views of Acadia - Jordan Pond and The Bubbles. Don’t miss your chance to capture the moment with a selfie, group photo, and/or simple nature shot.
You can return to the start a couple of ways. Most people take the easier Deer Brook Trail
, which will intersect your path to the north at about 1.7 miles. Follow the Deer Brook Trail
down 0.3 miles to the northern edge of Jordan Pond, and then hike the Jordan Pond Path
around either the eastern or western part of the pond for roughly 1.5 miles until you reach the Jordan House area again. Another return option is via the Penobscot East Trail
, which you come across at 1.5 miles into the hike, right before hiking into the Deer Brook path. The Penobscot East Trail
leaves Jordan Cliffs in a southwestern manner and ascends for 0.5 miles to the Penobscot Mountain Trail
, another park favorite. Take it southward down the mountain for roughly another mile until you once again reach the Spring Trail