Difficulty: Moderate. The hike hovers around 2 miles in length, slightly more and slightly less, depending on the route you take.
How to get there: Drive to Mount Desert Island on Route 3. After crossing the causeway, stay to the right and follow Route 102 toward Somesville and Southwest Harbor. After reaching Southwest Harbor, turn right onto Seal Cove Road, the bang another right onto Long Pond Road. Drive to the end of Long Pond Road to a parking area on the shore of Long Pond, just past the water pumping station. You will start on Long Pond Trail; the trailhead is to the left of the water pumping station, if you are facing the lake. (Two other trails that lead to Beech Mountain leave from this parking area.)
Information: Mansell Mountain, which rises 949 feet above sea level on Mount Desert Island, can be explored by a number of hiking trails in a section of Acadia National Park located near the town of Southwest Harbor.
A popular route is to start on the Long Pond Trail, take the second left at about 0.2 mile to hike up the Perpendicular Trail to the summit, and descend the mountain on the Razorback Trail (located at the termination of the Perpendicular Trail, past the junction with the Mansell Mountain Trail. The Razorback Trail will enter the forest and end at the Gilley Trail. A left leads to the Cold Brook Trail, which will bring you to Long Pond Trail. Turn right and head back to the parking area. The loop is about 2.5 miles long, according to www.mainetrailfinder.com.
Another option (and the one I took), is to descend the mountain via Mansell Mountain Trail, a steep trail that will lead you quickly to the base of the mountain and Cold Brook Trail, which will lead you back to Long Pond and the parking area.
There are also trails that link to Great Notch and the nearby Bernard Mountain.
Mansell Mountain, named after Sir Robert Mansell, has a confusing history. Sir Robert Mansell, born in 1565, was married to Miss Roper, a maid of honor in Queen Anne’s household, according to “Mountains of Maine: Intriguing Stories Behind Their Names” by Steve Pinkham. After being knighted in 1596, he worked his way up the line to become commander of the Royal Navy. In 1622, he received a deed to Mount Desert Island for a “note of one hundred and ten pounds.” Samuel de Champlain had already named the island, but Mansell claimed it for England and renamed it Mount Mansell Island, which the colonists of Massachusetts called it for 70 years until the name Mount Desert Island was restored.
In the 1800s, the Reverend Benjamin DeCosta visited the island and renamed Brown Mountain, near Somes Sound, to Mount Mansell. Then George Dorr came along and renamed it Norumbega Mountain (the name the mountain retains today). Later, he bestowed the east peak of Western Mountain with the name Mansell Mountain (the name it retains today), according to Pinkham.
It was to this peak that the Perpendicular Trail was built in 1933-34 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, according to Mainetrailfinder.com. Though there are several trails on the slopes of Mansell Mountain, the best-known trail is the Perpendicular Trail, which includes more than 300 granite steps. Dogs are not allowed on this trail due to a steep section that includes ladder and iron rungs.
The summit of Mansell Mountain is wooded, but a few great outlooks are located along the Perpendicular Trail, Mansell Mountain Trail and Razorback Trail.
To use the trails and other resources of Acadia National Park, the first national park east of the Mississippi, visitors must pay an entrance fee upon entry May through October. Pass cost varies depending on several factors. For information about park passes, visit www.nps.gov/acad/planyourvisit/index.htm.
Personal note: No one had ever suggested this mountain to me, and I’m surprised. The Perpendicular Trail is a treat — stone staircases winding around boulders and through rockslides. One portion of the trail climbs near flowing water that creates tiny waterfalls at it travels down the mountain, and another section of the trail climbs through a rock slide. While there are rock stairs on other mountains in the park — Dorr Mountain and Huguenot Head, to name a couple — Mansell Mountain is less likely to be crowded during the summer, as it lies in Southwest Harbor, on the less-traveled side of Mount Desert Island.