Hiking the Bubbles Trail is one of the best things to do in Acadia National Park. And most people who venture out head straight for Bubble Rock at the top of South Bubble. And while I’ve done that and it’s fun, those looking to escape the crowds and have great views should instead look towards North Bubble.
So first you may be asking, what are the Bubbles? Well the Bubbles are the two mountains that sit at the north end of Jordan Pond. And catching the view across the pond from them (near Jordan Pond House) is one of the classic shots of Acadia National Park.
But instead of just having them as a backdrop to your photo, you can hike to the summit of each. Most people head towards South Bubble’s summit and the famous Bubble Rock. But if you’re interested in a longer and less traveled route, then North Bubble may be for you.
In addition to being quieter, North Bubble is a bit taller so the trail is harder. And if you decide to do the full loop, you’ll have amazing views of not only Jordan Pond, but Eagle Lake as well. However, the loop is over 3 miles, so this isn’t a quick stop.
And those looking to really make the most of the Bubbles trail may want to combine South Bubble & North Bubble together. I’ll explain these options below, but know that you can conquer both summits during the same hike if you want to.
Read Next: 5 Awesome Things to Do in Acadia National Park
The Bubbles Trail
The Bubbles have their parking lot along the Park Loop Road. It’s situated on the west side of the road between Cadillac Mountain and Jordan Pond House. Be prepared to get there early though since it’s quite small and is usually full by mid-morning.
If that lot is full, your other option is another small pull-out lot about a quarter mile down the road (towards Jordan Pond House). I’ve parked there several times for these trails.
From the parking lot, you’ll head west on the Bubbles Divide trail. This part of the trail is fairly level and wide. You’ll cross the Jordan Pond Carry trail, but keep on the Bubbles Divide trail.
As you start to turn up though, you’ll come to the Bubbles Trail intersection.
If you want to hike the North Bubble loop, head to the right towards the North Bubble summit. However if you’re interested in hiking up to South Bubble, keep going straight. After another .1 miles, you’ll come to the Bubbles Trail signpost for South Bubbles to your left.
It’s less than half a mile to the top of South Bubble from here. If that’s the hike you’re after, check out my South Bubble trail guide for all the details.
Once you’ve checked out Bubble Rock, the easy way to continue on with the North Bubble summit would be to come back down the way you came and head towards that first Bubbles Trail signpost.
Don’t forget to check out the end of the post for the map of these trails!
The climb from the Bubbles Divide trail up to the summit is a bit steep. Not as bad as something like the Precipice, but still a hike that will get your heart racing. My dad had to take this part slow and step off for a few breaks on our way up. But he made it in the end.
Read Next: The Best Hikes in Acadia National Park
Now the views from the top of North Bubble are fantastic! You’ll get a few teaser views on your way up, but once you reach the summit, all of Jordan Pond will be spread out before you.
Now once you reach the top, definitely sit back and enjoy it for awhile. Penobscot Mountain is to your right with Pemetic Mountain to your left. And if you have a good eye, you can spot the Jordan Pond House at the far end of Jordan Pond.
And unlike South Bubble, we shared this experience with only a couple other people. It’s quickly become one of my favorite views of Acadia National Park.
Now once you’ve gotten your fill, you have a couple of options before you. If you’re pressed for time, you can head on back the way you came towards the parking lot. Or you can continue on the Bubbles Trail and head down the far side of North Bubble.
The descent on the north side is much gentler than the ascent was. Less steps, and more open slopes. Keep your eyes peeled though as Eagle Lake will start to come into view in front of you.
This descent is spread out over .8 miles before you’ll reach a carriage road. To continue on the loop, just cross the carriage road and head up towards Conners Nubble. However if hiking up to Conners Nubble doesn’t appeal to you, you can head right (or east) on the carriage road to shorten the loop.
Read more OCEAN PATH (Sand Beach to Otter Point)
When I hiked this with my Dad, this is what he did. After hiking up to North Bubble, he didn’t have it in him to hike to the top of Conners Nubble. So instead I continued on with my sister and met up with him later on the Jordan Pond Carry trail.
Now the hike from the carriage road to Conners Nubble is short but very steep. You’ll be hand over foot to scramble to the top. And luckily it’s not very tall. But I was glad my Dad didn’t join us on this part of the trail. I think he would have struggled.
But once you reach the top, you’ll have great views of Eagle Lake before you! Definitely stop awhile to take it all in. And glance back the way you came to see the Bubbles from this side.
Now once you’re ready to continue, keep following the Bubbles trail down the north side of Conners Nubble. Keep your eyes peeled for the markers on the ground. They can be hard to spot in a few areas as you head down.
After about half a mile, you’ll reach the intersection with the Eagle Lake Trail. (If you hit the carriage road, you’ve gone too far.)
Now the Eagle Lake Trail hugs the coastline along the south western part of the lake. This is the longest continous stretch of this hike and it’s fairly level.
However for a significant portion of the trail, there are HUGE boulders all along the coastline. The trail winds its way around, and up and over these obstacles. And you wouldn’t think that would be tiring, but after like a half mile of it (or maybe even more), it gets tiring.
We took several breaks along the way. And at one point another couple passed us and asked, in almost desperation, if we knew when the boulder section would be over.
I was again glad my Dad didn’t hike this portion of the trail with us.
But eventually the rocks come to an end and you’ll find yourself in peaceful forest once again. This part of the trail is heavily wooded and possibly marshy (in wetter conditions).
Your last turn of this loop hike will be a right (south) turn onto the Jordan Pond Carry trail. This section of the trail gently slopes upward towards the Bubbles Divide trail and the parking lot.
Due to occasional marshy conditions, you’ll hike along a few planks and cross over a carriage road. This is the same carriage road you crossed on your way up to Conners Nubble and is where we met up with my Dad once again.
My legs were definitely getting tired as we neared the end of this hike and I was glad to finally reach the Bubbles Divide intersection and parking lot to the left (east).
But the hike (and its views!) were worth it!
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North Bubble Trail Map
I’ve included the map and elevation profile from my tracking software below as well as a larger view of the North Bubble loop hike. I’ve indicated this loop in blue. The two alternate options – up to South Bubble & along the carriage road skipping Conners Nubble – are highlighted in red.
One last note is that at the top of this guide I indicated that the elevation gain is about 400ft (North Bubble) and 150ft (Conners Nubble). However the overall elevation change is higher.
The parking lot sits at about 460ft with the North Bubble summit at 872ft. Then you head down to about ~440ft before heading up to Conners Nubble at 588ft. After that, I headed down to the lake at around ~290ft before heading back up to the parking lot.
That’s why my total elevation gain below was around ~750ft.
— Update: 23-03-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article South Bubble Mountain (Acadia National Park) from the website champagne-tastes.com for the keyword bubble mountain hike.
Looking for a challenging hike in Acadia National Park? Head to South Bubble Mountain from Jordan Pond for a rock scrambling adventure! Make sure to check out Bubble Rock and North Bubble.
Are you looking for a challenging hike in Acadia?
Don’t worry, the park has plenty of those!
One of my favorite Acadia hikes is the trail up South Bubble Mountain.
This guide will walk you through the trail, plus give you some options to avoid the crowded section of the Jordan Pond Path.
Getting to the Bubbles Trail
There’s more than one way to arrive at the Bubbles Trail (a.k.a. the trail to Bubble Rock and the South Bubble Summit).
This trail guide follows a route from Jordan Pond, because the easy stroll along Jordan Pond is just so pretty!
We found that parking was a problem at both the Jordan Pond parking areas and the Bubbles trailhead parking lot.
However, the Jordan Pond parking area was bigger (and where we finally found an open space), and this is a nice way to see both the iconic pond and hike the Bubbles all at once.
If you’d prefer to skip the parking dilemma, try taking Acadia’s Island Explorer park shuttle.
How Long Is the Trail to South Bubble?
As mentioned, there are a few different ways to get to the summit of South Bubble. I definitely recommend buying an Acadia trail map before going so that you can adjust your hike as needed and stay found.
From the Jordan Pond Path Trailhead, you can hike to both South Bubble and North Bubble in a 5-mile trail loop (3.3 miles of easy trail on the Jordan Pond Path and 1.7 miles of more difficult trails on the Bubbles). This is the route this trail guide will follow.
For a slightly shorter hike, skip North Bubble. You’ll only have 0.9 miles of the difficult trails (4.2 miles total with Jordan Pond added in).
Read more South Bubble Mountain (Acadia National Park)
For a much shorter hike, you can also access the Jordan Pond side of Bubbles Trail from the Bubbles parking lot instead of from the Jordan Pond Path.
Is This a Difficult Trail?
This trail is rated as moderately difficult, but depending on your fitness level and comfort with rock scrambling, it could be a difficult trail.
The Bubbles trail includes some semi-technical rock scrambling through a notch in the mountain.
For another challenging but rewarding hike, aim for sunrise on the Cadillac North Ridge Trail! For something easier, check out The Wild Gardens of Acadia.
Can I Skip the Rock Scrambling Section?
To skip the rock scrambling portion, you’ll want to avoid Bubbles Trail to South Bubble Mountain. Instead, stick to the Bubbles Divide trail, branching off from there to the Bubble summits.
There are a few different ways to reach the Bubbles from Bubbles Divide. I recommend referring to your Acadia trail map and finding your route of choice.
Should I Hike This if I’m Afraid of Heights?
That’s a hard question to answer.
On the rock scrambling portion of the hike, there are a few exposed cliff edges that got my heart racing.
That said, I did not find this trail as nerve-wracking as the Beehive trail (the only one of Acadia’s rung and ladder trails that I attempted).
If you’re very afraid of heights, you probably won’t enjoy this hike. But if you’re only a little afraid of heights, this trail might be fine for you.
What Should I Bring on the Hike?
First, make sure you’ve got your Acadia trail map.
Also, make sure you’re wearing shoes with good traction, such as a hiking boot.
I rounded up my favorite hiking shoes and boots for women if you’re in the market for new ones!
Since this is a challenging trail, it’s a good idea to bring along water.
Looking for a good daypack? I like the Rupumpack daypack, or for something a little more high-end, the Osprey daypack.
If you bring a trekking pole, make sure you can strap it to a daypack for the rock scramble. I was glad I brought mine along to help with the rocky downhill portion.
I love these Kelty trekking poles. For a higher-end option, try these Black Diamond Alpine carbon trekking poles.
Hiking to South Bubble Mountain via Jordan Pond
Start by walking from the parking area towards Jordan Pond.
Once you reach the pond, turn right to go counter-clockwise along the Jordan Pond Path.
This section of the hike will be a breeze.
Pretty soon, you’ll pass a trail marker pointing the way to Bubble Rock.
You’re on the right path!
Take time to watch for birds on the water.
We saw a cormorant!
When you reach the Bubbles Trail sign, turn right.
And get ready for things to get more difficult!
Follow the blue trail blazes and begin hiking up, up and up.
This section is a little challenging, but it’s not very long.
The South Bubble Rock Scramble
When you reach the top of the rocky path, the trees will begin to clear and you’ll have a gorgeous view of Jordan Pond.
Almost as soon as you’ve got a good view of the pond, you’ll also get a good view of the rock scramble ahead.
To continue on the trail, you’ll need to climb up and over a notch in the mountain.
This is where the real fun begins!
Once you’ve reached the top of the scramble, look to your left.
The trail goes up and over here too.
You’ll find that the rock has lots of hand and footholds.
There’s even a ladder rung to help you out in one section.
South Bubble Summit
When you make it to the top of the rock scramble, you’ll see stairs ahead on the trail.
From this point on, the trail is much easier.
You’ll pass a small boulder, and you might wonder if it’s Bubble Rock.
It’s not Bubble Rock.
The views on this trail just keep getting better and better!
Before you know it, you’ll arrive at the South Bubble summit.
Pat yourself on the back, and then look for the nearby Bubble Rock trail marker.
Follow the marker towards Bubble Rock.
Bubble Rock is pictured below.
It’s a massive boulder perched precariously on the edge of the mountain.
Once you’re there, you (don’t have to but totally should) walk over to the boulder and pose underneath it.
Full discloser, you may have to wait in line for this picture. We had a wait even though it was not a busy day on the mountain.
After Bubble Rock, continue down the path.
Bubbles Divide to North Bubble
If you’d like to visit North Bubble too, turn right onto Bubbles Divide and then follow the sign to North Bubble.
The trail to North Bubble isn’t quite as exciting as the trail to South Bubble, but it’s still a pretty view and only takes a few minutes to hike.
This portion of the path is mostly stone.
Now you can see Jordan Pond from the North Bubble summit too!
Is it even prettier from here? It might be.
Bubbles Divide to Jordan Pond
After summiting North Bubble, head back the way you came down and turn right onto Bubbles Divide toward Jordan Pond.
This rocky downhill section was my least favorite part of the hike, but it’s not too long.
Jordan Pond to the Trailhead
When you reach Jordan Pond, you’ve got a choice to make.
If you’re in a hurry or want to avoid crowds, I highly recommend turning left and walking back the way you came on Jordan Pond instead of trying to finish the pond loop.
The second half of Jordan Pond can get quite crowded with lots of traffic jams.
Read more 5 Beginning Level Hikes in the Adirondacks
If you decide to finish the pond loop, you’ll continue over a foot bridge and a rocky stretch of the path.
And then, the reason for the traffic jam.
The boardwalk is impressive, but it’s one-lane with no room for passing. There are a few platforms on the side of the boardwalk to allow for passing, but these are few and far between.
You’ll be on the boardwalk almost the entire way back to the trailhead.
Whichever way you go on the Jordan Pond Path, you’ll end up back at the trailhead.
Head back to your car (or the shuttle!) and enjoy the rest of your time in Acadia.
Need a filling meal after all the walking? Check out The Travelin’ Lobster in nearby Bar Harbor or Abel’s Lobster on the waterfront!
— Update: 25-03-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article SOUTH BUBBLE MOUNTAIN (and Bubble Rock) from the website www.citrusmilo.com for the keyword bubble mountain hike.
Hiking Guide Photos 1 2
One of the most famous views in Acadia is from the south side of Jordan Pond looking north at the Bubbles across the lake. Both of these beautiful little peaks (South Bubble and North Bubble) have trails that go to the summits that make for great day hikes. In addition to being a wonderful viewpoint, South Bubble also has a famous tourist attraction: Bubble Rock (aka. Balanced Rock), a large boulder that was carried by glaciers and deposited at the seemingly precarious edge of a cliff. The hike from the Bubbles parking lot to Bubble Rock is a short family-friendly adventure, but keep an eye on children near exposed sections of the mountain.
The easiest way to see South Bubble and Bubble Rock is to park at the Bubbles Parking Lot, a relatively small roadside parking lot located along the Park Loop Road roughly 2.3 miles south of the turnoff for the Cadillac Mountain Summit Road. (The lot may often be full by mid-morning in the tourist months.)
|Rating:||Short family-friendly day hike (to Bubble Rock). Some moderately-strenuous scrambling if continuing down South Bubble Trail.|
|Access:||Bubbles Parking Lot, along the Park Loop Road, 2.3 miles south of the turnoff for the Cadillac Mountain Summit Road.|
|Time Required:||Roughly 1 hour (to Bubble Rock and back), 1-2 hours (South Bubble Loop hike)|
|Length:||1 mile (to Bubble Rock and back), 1.7 miles (South Bubble Loop hike)|
|Elevation Change:||250 feet up to South Bubble, 400 feet down to Jordan Pond.|
|Seasons:||Spring through fall.|
At the north end of the parking lot, find the “Bubbles Divide” Trailhead and hike west up the well-maintained trail as it slowly ascends through the forested landscape. As the trail heads up the valley between North Bubble and South Bubble, you will pass the North Bubble spur trail on the right (north) and soon after, you will reach the South Bubble spur trail on the left (south). Follow the South Bubble Trail as it continues its ascent and soon enough, you will be standing on the summit of South Bubble.
Continue hiking a few more minutes and you will see the short side trail to the legendary Bubble Rock. The area around Bubble Rock is a great place to take photos and explore, but please take care especially with children as the cliffs are quite steep and a fall could be fatal. And since this mountain sees a lot of tourists, please obey any roped off areas or “do not hike here” signs as they are designed to protect the vegetation. Continue along the South Bubble Trail for some great views looking south at Jordan Pond; there are many idyllic spots to relax and have lunch while taking in the vista. Those looking to take it easy should turn around before the trail starts its big descent.
If you’re looking for something a bit spicier, continue down the South Bubble Trail as it works its way down the cliffs towards Jordan Pond. (This section may not be suitable for those with young children.) This section of trail is somehwat exposed and has a few minor scrambling sections that could be intimidating, but it relents quickly enough. Once at the base of the cliffs, the trail works its way through the forested boulder field to join up with the Jordan Pond Trail at the water’s edge. (While the water may be extremely inviting, no swimming or wading is allowed as this pond is a public water source.) From this point, you can either turn left and hike east to take the Jordon Pond Carry Trail back to the Bubbles parking lot, or the slightly longer (and arguably more scenic) option is to turn right and hike west along a longer stretch of Jordon Pond to take the Bubbles Divide Trail back.
- For a longer option, a hike up the South Bubble Trail can be incorporated into a loop hike around the Jordan Pond Path. This hike could take roughly 2-4 hours.
- A quick side trip up to the summit of North Bubble (and back) is a great option as well and offers arguably better views of Jordan Pond. This could take an extra 40-60 minutes and is well worth the effort.
- Climbing is very popular on the southeast face of the South Bubble. (There is a climbing register off of the Jordan Pond Carry Trail.) Please do not throw any rocks off of any summit.
If this is your first visit to Acadia National Park, the easy hike up to South Bubble and Bubble Rock are a must! For those wanting to spice things up, descending South Bubble Trail to Jordan Pond and also hiking up to the summit of North Bubble are two excellent options.
VIEW THE PHOTOGRAPHS! Return to the Middle Peaks