Boat seen from the point (photo by Webmaster)
Boat seen from the point (photo by Webmaster)

Ship Harbor

Destination:  Ship Harbor
Trail:  Ship Harbor Trail
Region:  ME - Central Southeast  
Acadia National Park, Western Region
Location:  South Harbor, ME
Rating:  Easy  
Features:  Ocean, loop hike
Distance:  1.4 miles  
Elevation Gain:  Minimal  
Hiking Time:  Actual: 0:35   Typical: 0:45  
Outing Duration:  Actual: 1:15   Typical: 1:30  
Season:  Spring
Hike Date:  06/02/2009 (Tuesday)  
Last Updated:  09/08/2009  
Author:  Webmaster

View of ledges and the ocean from Ship Harbor Trail (photo by Webmaster)
View of ledges and the ocean from Ship Harbor Trail (photo by Webmaster)

Route Summary   

This is an easy trail bringing you to an ocean outlook and alongside Ship Harbor. Although the walk is easy, the footing is rough in spots so please wear appropriate footwear (in other woods, something like sandals would not be the best thing to wear).

Ship Harbor Trail (photo by Webmaster)
Ship Harbor Trail (photo by Webmaster)
  • Ship Harbor Trail forms a figure eight with an offshoot leading from the parking area.
  • From the parking area, head down the trail.
  • You will soon reach a split in the trail – this is the bottom of the "8". You can take either branch at this, and the next trail split, so I will just describe the route as a perimeter loop.
  • So turn left here and keep walking.
  • You will soon reach the next trail split – this is the center of the "8". Turn left again.
  • Soon the trail will break out of the woods and arrive at the ocean.
  • There is a rough path on the edge of the woods to the left that will lead to more expansive views. You may walk right down to the water but take care, as the "beach" is a jumble of smallish rocks that will move under your feet.
  • When you're done enjoying the scenery, go back up to where you first came out of the woods and then continue walking the loop. So coming out of the woods, you would curve to the right.
  • This section starts out on open ledges above the water and runs right next to Ship Harbor where you can look across to the opposite shore.
  • Soon you will reenter the woods and walk on a neat narrow boardwalk.
  • Then look for a spur path on the left. Descend the trail on stairs to the shore of Ship Harbor. Depending on the tide, there may be a sand bar you walk out on for more views of the interior of the harbor.
  • When finished exploring there, walk back up to the main trail and turn left.
  • Soon you will return to the trail split that forms the center of the "8".
  • Turn left and keep walking with a few views out to Ship Harbor en route.
  • When you reach the next trail split, bear left again and this leg will quickly return you to the parking area.

Place         Split
Miles
     Total
Miles
     Split
Time
     Total
Time
    
Ship Harbor Trailhead (40') 0.0 0.0 0:00 0:00
Ocean Outlook (20') 0.7 0.7 0:15 0:15
Ship Harbor Trailhead (40') 0.7 1.4 0:20 0:35

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Beach pea flowers found at the point (photo by Webmaster)
Beach pea flowers found at the point (photo by Webmaster)
 



The beginning of Ship Harbor Trail
(photo by Webmaster)
The beginning of Ship Harbor Trail (photo by Webmaster)


The gravel bar in Ship Harbor and the stairs leading back up to the main trail (photo by Webmaster)
The gravel bar in Ship Harbor and the stairs leading back up to the main trail (photo by Webmaster)

 

Trail map of hike route to Ship Harbor (map by Webmaster)


Trail Guide   

This was an easy yet pleasant hike to the ocean and along Ship Harbor – a small cove. The woods were delightful, the ocean shore provided lots of interesting sights, and Ship Harbor itself was peaceful and pretty.

At the parking area is a sign for the trail with an outline of the harbor and a short poem by Robinson Jeffers. The path is fairly wide in most places and quickly took me from sun to dappled shade since I was walking in the early evening. Conifers, lichen, and the purplish-pink blossoms of rhodora (Rhododendron roseum) bordered the trail. After a while the footway changed from gravel to ledges and I saw the moon high in the blue sky.

Ship Harbor Trail (photo by Webmaster)
Ship Harbor Trail (photo by Webmaster)

Finally breaking out of the woods, I reached a rocky area above the ocean with a couple islands in sight nearby and more just barely visible farther out. Some boats where on the water and a buoy bell was ringing.

I walked to the left for about 25 yards over areas of rough footing to get views of the nearby peninsula that Wonderland Trail runs on. Then I carefully picked my way over loose rock to check out some delightful beach pea (Lathyrus japonicus) plants boasting odd-shaped magenta flowers and abundant foliage. There was some driftwood and the rocks covered a wide range of colors.

Beach pea plants growing among the rocks (photo by Webmaster)
Beach pea plants growing among the rocks (photo by Webmaster)

I worked my way right down to the ocean where the footing was better across ledgy rock instead of loose stones. There was a tidal pool with algae floating on the surface. And I saw some black chokeberry (Pyrus melanocarpa) valiantly growing among the rocks and putting forth white blossoms. For the curious, there is lots to explore in this area.

I walked back up to the top of the rise to continue my hike on Ship Harbor Trail. The route goes across open ledges with views first of the ocean and then of Ship Harbor. Soon I was back in the woods walking across a neat, curved boardwalk through an area that is probably wet at certain times of the year. Well, it must be wet in early spring because skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), which has very large leaves, was also growing here and this plant requires a lot of water. Its odd, drab-colored flowers come up in early spring and aren't very noticeable unless you know what to look for. There was also a clump of downed trees that lifted a large mat of soil up as they fell.

Ship Harbor (photo by Webmaster)
Ship Harbor (photo by Webmaster)

There were a few more views out to Ship Harbor along the trail and then I took a spur to the left, down a nice set of stairs, right to the shoreline. There was a sand bar – well, made up more of rocks than sand – that I was able to walk out on which gave views of the harbor from the inside out. Beach pea was also growing here and I found a sea urchin shell perched on one of the rocks.

After exploring, I headed back up the stairs, passing by some flowering blueberry shrubs, and back to the main trail. I walked in shade again before reaching another outlook to the harbor and the gravel bar that I had just been on. Then soon after that, I arrived back at the parking area to complete the hike.

This was an easy stroll (although there were a few gentle hills) with lots of interesting sights to please the eye as well as giving an overall feeling of tranquility. I only ran into a few other people on this outing although I imagine there are times when it can get busy.

View of the gravel bar in Ship Harbor with the ocean farther out behind it
(photo by Webmaster)
View of the gravel bar in Ship Harbor with the ocean farther out behind it (photo by Webmaster)
 
The moon above Ship Harbor Trail (photo by Webmaster)
The moon above Ship Harbor Trail (photo by Webmaster)


Rocks and shells on the gravel bar in Ship Harbor
(photo by Webmaster)
Rocks and shells on the gravel bar in Ship Harbor (photo by Webmaster)



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ME - Central Southeast

  Driving Directions   

This hike starts from Route 102A, located within Acadia National Park in South Harbor, Maine. It is in the western half of Mount Desert Island.

View of the ocean and some islands from the point (photo by Webmaster)
View of the ocean and some islands from the point (photo by Webmaster)
To Ship Harbor From the North:
  • From the junction of Routes 3 and 102 in Bar Harbor, pick up Rt. 102 South.
  • Follow Rt. 102 South for about 11.6 miles.
  • At the junction with Routes 102 and 102A in Southwest Harbor, turn left onto Rt. 102A.
  • Follow Rt. 102A for about 4.5 miles, then turn into the roadside parking are for Ship Harbor on the left. This is 1.4 mile past Seawall Campground.

To Ship Harbor From the East:
  • From the junction of Routes 3 and 233 in Bar Harbor, pick up Rt. 233 West.
  • Follow Rt. 233 West for about 5.9 miles where it will end upon meeting Routes 3 and 198.
  • Turn right and follow Rt. 198 North for about 1.4 miles where it will reach a junction with Rt. 102.
  • Turn left and follow Rt. 102 South for about 7.2 miles.
  • At the junction with Routes 102 and 102A in Southwest Harbor, turn left onto Rt. 102A.
  • Follow Rt. 102A for about 4.5 miles, then turn into the roadside parking are for Ship Harbor on the left. This is 1.4 mile past Seawall Campground.

View of the ocean from the point (photo by Webmaster)
View of the ocean from the point (photo by Webmaster)

Facilities   

Bathrooms at the parking area for Ship Harbor Trail.

Other Notes   

A fee is required to enter Acadia National Park between May 1st and October 31st.

For more information on entrance fees please refer to the Acadia National Park website.

Rates:
  • $20 for a week-long pass for one vehicle during the regular season (June 23rd–Early October)
  • $10 for a week-long pass for one vehicle during the off-season (May 1st–June 22nd and Early October–October 31st)
  • $40 for a year-long pass for one vehicle
  • $5 for a week-long pass for one pedestrian

View of rocky beach with the Wonderland peninsula in the background
(photo by Webmaster)
View of rocky beach with the Wonderland peninsula in the background (photo by Webmaster)

About Acadia National Park   

Acadia National Park, covering about 48,000 acres, is located on Mount Desert Island on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in the "Downeast" region of the state of Maine. The park spans several villages including Bar Harbor, Northeast Harbor, and Southwest Harbor. Acadia includes miles of ocean shoreline, many freshwater ponds, a couple lakes, waterfalls, bare ledgy mountaintops, and deciduous and softwood forests. There are two sections of the park that are not on Mount Desert Island: Schoodic Peninsula and Isle au Haut.

Acadia National Park offers a unique hiking experience in New England. From the many bare summits, not only can you see other mountains, but also gorgeous vistas of the sea along with islands, promontories, coves, and boats. The hiking is rugged with many easy rock scrambles, yet the elevations are low, making the ledgy peaks accessible to most people. The incredible network of trails allows you to tailor hiking distances to your wishes – you can devise a route that will keep you going all day; or simply choose a short jaunt to give you great vistas without a lot of effort. There are a couple dozen peaks and well over 100 miles of hiking trails.

View from Pemetic Mtn. at Acadia National Park (photo by Webmaster)


There is an abundance of opportunities for outdoor activities at Acadia. Spend some time sunbathing at Sand Beach, enjoy a leisurely stroll along the Atlantic shoreline, bicycle or ride a horse on the 57 miles of carriage roads, paddle in the many ponds, swim at Echo Lake, take a boat tour on the sea or to an island, stay overnight at the park's campgrounds, and of course you can hike up mountains, through forests, and around ponds. The winter season provides great terrain for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

If your taste runs to less physical activity, then you can drive up to the summit of Cadillac Mountain – Acadia's highest peak at 1,532 feet elevation – in fact the highest point on the United States' Atlantic seaboard. From Cadillac's bare summit are views in every direction – you can watch the sunrise in the morning and the sunset in the evening. The forest service offers many ranger-led programs from mid-May through mid-October to introduce you to the nature and wildlife of the park. You can drive on Park Loop Road for a tour of the park with many picnic areas and pullout spots offering scenic vistas available. Or stop in at Jordan Pond House for popovers and tea. Shopping, restaurants, and lodging are available in Bar Harbor as well as the other villages within or next to the park. Whale watching and bird watching are other popular activates.

Rhodora bloom (photo by Webmaster)


The varied natural habitat of Acadia National Park – from ocean to mountains – offers a plethora of plants and wildlife – both marine and land-bound. It is home to about 50 species of mammals, 325 bird species, and 1,000 species of flowering plants. Both bald eagles and peregrine falcons nest on the island. Mammals include deer, porcupine, and beaver. Whales and harbor seals are common marine animals.

The park was established in 1916 under a different name and became Acadia National Park in 1929. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. donated about one-third of the park's acreage and was responsible for creating the gorgeous carriage roads that wind through forests, around ponds, past waterfalls, and over beautiful granite bridges.

An entrance fee is required to enter the park. See the forest service's Fees and Reservations page for more information.

The park is open all year, although services are reduced and many roads closed during the winter season.

Acadia National Park
P.O. Box 177
Bar Harbor, ME 04609
207.288.3338

More Ship Harbor Trail Reports   


Sea urchin shell on the gravel bar in Ship Harbor (photo by Webmaster)
Sea urchin shell on the gravel bar in Ship Harbor (photo by Webmaster)
 
Uprooted trees along Ship Harbor Trail (photo by Webmaster)
Uprooted trees along Ship Harbor Trail (photo by Webmaster)

Black chokeberry growing between the rocks at the point (photo by Webmaster)
Black chokeberry growing between the rocks at the point (photo by Webmaster)

Boardwalk on Ship Harbor Trail (photo by Webmaster)
Boardwalk on Ship Harbor Trail (photo by Webmaster)

Skunk cabbage
(photo by Webmaster)
Skunk cabbage (photo by Webmaster)

View of Ship Harbor from Ship Harbor Trail
(photo by Webmaster)
View of Ship Harbor from Ship Harbor Trail (photo by Webmaster)


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