Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island here on the coast of Maine is my favorite place. Every year I have to visit, usually two or three times. Right after Labor Day, when the tourists have mostly left and the weather is still summer-like, we head over to Acadia to camp out for a couple days. Each trip I try to find something new to see. Although I’ve been going to Acadia since I was a child, there are still many places in the park that I haven’t visited. This year we found Lower Hadlock Pond, a lovely gem hidden in the woods just a few hundred yards from busy Rte. 198, a little north of Northeast Harbor.
A well-maintained hiking trail circles the pond. The trail starts at the road, across from Upper Hadlock Pond. Both these bodies of water are reservoirs for the town of Northeast Harbor, no swimming or pets allowed.
The path follows a stone-strewn brook that runs from the upper pond, under the road, through a cedar marsh, over huge slabs of granite, then down to the lower pond. In the damp areas, elevated boardwalks have been built. There are also several rough-hewn cedar bridges. At the far end of Lower Hadlock Pond is an old earth and stone dam, a unique engineering feat worthy of notice on its own.
The pristine pond has crystal clear water with a bed of granite boulders. Mountains surround the pond and a forest of old growth fir, spruce, maple, oak and pine ranges right to the water’s edge. On the walk in from the road, a length of about 1/3 mile, the brook beside the trail catches glimmers from stray sunbeams penetrating the dense tree cover.
As it passes through pools and over stones, the stream keeps up a steady water music. Just before reaching the pond, the brook flows over a floor of granite and basalt, a massive outcrop of solid lava from an ancient volcanic flow. The waterway quickly drops about fifty feet to the level of the pond. In the spring when water is plentiful, this flow must be an impressive waterfall.
A trek around the entire pond takes a couple hours with time off to admire the many views. Fish are plentiful. Loons dive the waters and bald eagles circle overhead searching for any hapless trout that might swim too near the surface.
A second path allows entrance to the Lower Hadlock trail just across the road from an impressive stone gate house. Those preferring to forego the hike along the brook can use this access.