Dorr Mountain Ladder Trail-Cadillac Mountain-Canon Brook Trail, Acadia National Park

Up what felt like thousands of granite steps with some iron rungs and wobbly ladders thrown in on the east face of Dorr Mountain, down the west side, up the east face of Cadillac Mountain, across the south side, and down a granite river where the trail and the river were often one and the same. On the third day of our 4-hikes-4-days hiking binge in Acadia, we summited and re-summited on the Canon Brook, Cadillac South Ridge and Ladder Trail.

Total distance: 5.4 mi
Max elevation: 1526 ft
Min elevation: 105 ft
Total climbing: 2129 ft
Total descent: -2141 ft
Average speed: 2.04 mi/h
Total time: 04:11:53

We arose at 4am with the intention of a sunrise hike up on the ladder trail on the east face of Dorr Mountain. The sun appears early here on the coast of Maine, so we were halfway up Door when the sun broke over the adjacent ridge line, but that was fine, as it was nice to scramble in the shade. We were the second car in the parking lot when we arrived around 6:15am.

Seemingly interminable granite steps, marching relentlessly upward, are the first leg of this journey. They are fairly regular at the bottom and become larger and more haphazard toward the top, as if the Civilian Conservation Corp members tasked with dragging them up there decades ago got tired (imagine that!).

Halfway up, there are iron rungs and a very wobbly metal ladder (attached only to the rock face at the top).

The top of Dorr is barren, like all peaks in Acadia, and ringed by short pines.

On the way down, go far from the trail if you need to pee, as you won’t hear other hikers climbing up. The down, like the up, is scrambling and sliding down large rocks and rock faces.

You get back down into the woods, cross a trail, then head up the east face of Cadillac. Cadillac is more exposed, and the entire trail is crawling up granite slabs. You can see the people at the top who have driven up to admire the view, and you feel very virtuous for climbing it instead. The drivers-up will be awed as you swarm like spiderpeople up the face of the mountain.

At the top of Cadillac, it’s hard to find the peak marker. Rather than a wood post with a sign like the other Acadia peaks, there is only a metal disc in the ground. We spent a good half hour walking around trying to find it, and it turned out to be down the south ridge trail that we were heading off on anyway.

The Cadillac South Ridge trail wanders gently over the bare rock moonscape that is common to Acadia for a long distance, and people keep popping up onto the mesa from below.

Instead of taking it all the way down, we veered off on the Canon Brook Trail, where we saw no one.

The Canon Brook Trail is sometimes beside and sometimes in Canon Brook. You and the water share a steepish path down granite faces with the occasional small gorge or granite stairway. There are a few small waterfalls.

With a mile left in the trail, you’re back on level ground on a soft, pine needle path that takes you back to the parking lot.


Distance5.27 miles
Elevation Gain1673 feet
Moving Time3 hours, 33 minutes
Total Time4 hours, 11 minutes
Average Pace47 minutes per mile / 1.3 mph
Water Consumed1.5 liters
Food ConsumedBefore the hike: nothing
During the hike: three clif bars, two vegetable muffins
Temperature Range50 to 66°F
Cell ReceptionGood on the peaks