Ascent of Cadillac Mountain on 2012-10-09

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Cadillac Mountain
    Elevation:1528 ft / 465 m

Ascent Trip Report

Cadillac Mountain is a very popular peak, located in a National Park with a paved road leading to just near a summit with spectacular views. I had visited the summit area in a miserable white-out in 1994 but did not do the short hike to the true summit, so I decided to make time for a return visit. Also, I had long heard that Acadia offered excellent hiking, and Jack Bennett’s “Dream Hikes in America” book called out the Precipice Trail on nearby Champlain Mountain as a great trail. So I thought I would try to hike Cadillac Mountain from the east.

In summary, the Precipice Trail is a spectacular route and well worth the effort for climbers and scramblers who are comfortable with exposure. The NPS calls it a “non-technical climbing route” on its warning signs, and strictly speaking it might contain some moves that are YDS Class 4. Bolts, ladders, rock steps, huge talus blocks, a tight-squeeze tunnel, and other fun features await those who try to scale these cliffs. I particularly recommend this trail to Western hikers comfortable with exposed scrambling that might otherwise scoff at the low mountains of the East. It compares favorably with Katahdin’s knife edge in ruggedness and scenery.

I was traveling with my mother on this trip, and she dropped me off at the well-signed Precipice trailhead on the one-way park loop road. I scrambled up the immensely enjoyable Precipice trail, which took me west up 955 vertical feet to the summit of Champlain Mountain and spectacular views. From there I took the Beechcroft Trail NW downhill to the Tarn and ME Route 3, losing all the elevation I had gained climbing Champlain. After crossing the highway I climbed Dorr Mountain using the Diedrich’s Climb trail (steep) and the more gentle continuation of the Ladder Trail to the summit. From Dorr, the Notch Trail drops steeply to the Dorr-Cadillac col, and the Gorge Trail climbs to the tourist-thronged summit of Cadillac Mountain. My mom was waiting here to pick me up.

A few points:

*My trip over Champlain and Dorr to Cadillac took me 2.5 hours, but I was moving quickly since someone was waiting for me. Allowing 3 to 4 hours is better.

*In summer the NPS runs shuttle buses, so this itinerary (and many other point-to-point hikes in Acadia) is possible without a companion/chauffer.

*Total elevation gain was 2628 feet.

*The going can be very rugged and rough, and the trails are marked with blue blazes on rock that can be hard to spot sometimes.

*Take a good map with the hiking trails marked. There are numerous trails criss-crossing the park and you have to carefully navigate at junctions.

*Don’t try this hike in bad weather! It would be very dangerous.

*You are out in the open most of the time. The vegetation is mostly pretty scrubby, and there are countless slabs and viewpoints.

*Parts of this hike (especially the Beechcroft Trail and going up Dorr Mountain) are works or art where CCC workers, I presume, built rock steps and flagstone pathways. This kind of trail work is simply not done any more.

So for those who have not yet been to Cadillac Mountain and are looking for something more than a drive-up, this route is highly recommended.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:498 ft / 151 m
    Total Elevation Loss:18 ft / 5 m
    Round-Trip Distance:0.9 mi / 1.5 km
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Weather:Cool, Windy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:498 ft / 151 m
    Distance:0.7 mi / 1.1 km
    Route:Gorge Tr
    Start Trailhead:Cadillac-Dorr Notch  1030 ft / 313 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:18 ft / 5 m
    Distance:0.3 mi / 0.4 km
    End Trailhead:Cadillac Mountain Road  1510 ft / 460 m
Ascent Part of Trip: 2012 - Acadia

Complete Trip Sequence:
2Champlain Mountain2012-10-09 a955 ft / 291 m
2Dorr Mountain2012-10-09 b1175 ft / 358 m
3Cadillac Mountain2012-10-09 c498 ft / 152 m
Total Trip Gain: 2628 ft / 801 m    Total Trip Loss: 1218 ft / 371 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Greg Slayden
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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