1-minute hike: Little Long Pond trails on Mount Desert Island

Difficulty: Easy-moderate, depending on the trails or carriage roads you choose to walk.

littlelongpong0515-10How to get there: The parking areas and trailheads for the property are located on Peabody Drive, between the towns of Northeast Harbor and Seal Harbor on Mount Desert Island. To get to one of the main parking areas, drive onto Mount Desert Island on Route 3. After crossing the causeway onto the island, veer right onto Route 102 toward Somesville. At 4.3 miles, turn left onto Route 3-Route 198. At 5.7 miles, go straight onto Route 198-Route 3 and drive toward the town of Northeast Harbor. Before reaching downtown Northeast Harbor (at 10.1 miles), veer left onto Route 3 (Peabody Drive). And at 12.2 miles, the parking area is on your left.

(The directions have been corrected from an earlier post, which had two intersections flip-flopped! Sorry, guys.) 

littlelongpong0515-14Information: Little Long Pond and 1,000 acres surrounding it has a rich history of public recreation. Home to an extensive network of carriage roads and hiking trails, the property lies between Northeast Harbor and Seal Harbor and abuts Acadia National Park and the Thuya Garden.

Owned by the famous Rockefeller family for multiple generations, the land has long been open to the public for certain usages — namely horseback riding and dog walking. In 1993, the property was placed under a conservation easement held by Maine Coast Heritage Trust, ensuring that it wouldn’t be further developed.


This year, on June 12, the future of the land will be further solidified when the patriarch of the Rockefeller family, billionaire David Rockefeller Sr., donates the property to the nonprofit Land and Garden Preserve in celebration of his 100th birthday.

“It’s used tremendously by people who live here on the island year round,” said Carole Plenty, executive director of the Land and Garden Preserve.

The Land and Garden Preserve plan to focus on improving and expanding the land’s trails, but they do not plan to change the way the land is maintained or used by the public, Plenty said.

littlelongpong0515-27“Its usage is different from Acadia National Park,” Plenty said.

Most notably, while dogs must be leashed in Acadia National Park, they can be off leash on the Little Long Pond property. Also, while bicycling is popular in Acadia National Park, bikes are not permitted on the Little Long Pond property, even on carriage roads.

The hiking trails and carriage roads on the property travel through mature woods and mowed fields, trace the shore of Little Long Pond, and connect to paths of the neighboring Thuya property and Acadia National Park. Some hiking trails have tricky footing and should be considered moderate in difficulty, while the carriage roads are smooth and wide — much easier for walking.

A trail map for the Little Long Pond property can be found at bangordailynews.com/?attachment_id=1949814&ref=relatedSidebar.

littlelongpong0515-24Hiking Trails currently established on the property include:

-Harbor Brook Trail, which travels along the banks of Harbor Brook on the west side of the property (a little less than 2 miles long).

-David and Neva’s Trail (currently signed as West Side Little Long Pond Trail), which travels through the forest and meadows on the west side of Little Long Pond for a little over 1 mile.

-a length of the Asticou Ridge Trail (about 0.5 mile), which spans from the peak of Eliot Mountain in the Thuya property to the Jordan Pond Path in Acadia National Park

littlelongpong0515-25-Friend’s Trail, a small web of trails that travel between carriage roads on the south end of the property.

-A part of Jordan Stream trail, which travels into Acadia National Park (a little more than 0.5 mile).

-An unnamed trail that travels along the east side of Little Long Pond (about 0.5 mile long).

littlelongpong0515-19In addition, several miles of carriage roads on the property connect, forming multiple loops.

To learn about Land and Garden Preserve and its plans for the land, visit gardenpreserve.org or call 276-3727. The organization was established in 1971 and owns and maintains the nearby Asticou Azalea Gardens, Asticou Terraces and Landing and Thuya Gardens and property.

Personal note: Looking very much like summer vacationers, my mom and I drove her white BMW Z3 convertible to Mount Desert Island on May 29 to visit two attractions on the island — the Asticou Azalea Garden and the scenic Little Long Pond. The trip was spurred by the recent news that David Rockefeller Sr. had gifted 1,000 acres of land around Little Long Pond to the Land and Garden Preserve.My mom had the week off from work and agreed to tag along on the little adventure.

littlelongpong0515-7While my mom will likely cringe at the mention of her fancy car (something she’d wanted for years and finally purchased last summer), I have to include the car in this story because it was the first time I’d ever ridden in it — and boy was it fun. There’s nothing quite like driving around M.D.I. with the sun on your face, breathing in the salty ocean air.

I plan to write about the Azalea garden at a later date, so let’s jump right to Little Long Pond. We parked across from Bracy Cove, by the south end of the pond, and as my mom gathered her things from the trunk of the car, I stood at the property’s gate and watched three little dogs trot across the lawn to follow their owners on carriage road.

Upon entering the property, a man walking on a carriage road greeted us and asked us our plans. We told him that we aimed to walk along the edge of the pond on a trail labeled as David and Neva’s Trail on our map, which we soon discovered was marked with a sign reading “West Side Little Long Pond.” He told us that if we continued on that trail, it would lead us to Jordan Stream Path, which headed into Acadia National Park, all the way to Jordan Pond House, where we could find delicious (and a bit famous) popovers.

littlelongpong0515-23We didn’t walk quite that far, but it did sound like a nice day hike.

As we picked our way along David and Neva’s Trail, we noted the jumble of exposed tree roots crossing the trail. It wouldn’t be a good walk for someone looking for a smooth surface. Also along the trail, several wide wooden footbridges spanned streams and brooks, and narrow bog bridges helped us across soggy sections of trail.

A highlight of the hike was coming upon two loons preening near the shore. We quietly crept up and I photographed them for several minutes with my 400mm lens before continuing on. Also on the pond, we spotted a female wood duck. (It was the first time I’d ever spotted that species in the wild, what birders call “lifer.”)

littlelongpong0515-16We took the trail all the way around the pond, where it ended at a carriage road, then turned right to walk back to the parking area. Along the way, we came across a couple that had paused in the middle of the road to listen to the drumming of a woodpecker. We couldn’t spot the noisy bird, but while scanning the trees, I did spot a black-throated green warbler, a little yellow songbird with a black throat. We then veered off the carriage road onto a hiking trail that traveled closer to the western shore of the pond. The trail turned out to be smooth and wide (a better option for people looking to walk along the pond’s edge but not wanting to step over roots and rocks) and led us to a boathouse on the shore, then on to the parking area.

More photos:

Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com.