Green Mountain Railroad

MODERATE 1 reviews
#85 of 122 trails in

Green Mountain Railroad is a 2.5 mile loop trail located near Bar Harbor, ME and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible from April until November.

2.5 miles Loop


1 year ago

Once upon a time, as the children's story goes, "There was a little train that could." Well, in the 1800's ythere was just such a train, and it was called the Green Mountain railway. It was a small cog train that ran from one end of Eagle Lake up to the summit of green Mountain- renamed later to Cadillac Mountain. The company would go bankrupt and the rails and tracks were torn up and sold, but the railroad spikes had to remain in place because they had been driven so deep into the granite of Cadillac Mountain they could not be removed. And though accounts state all of the rail was removed, this is not the case, one sole section of rail remains in place on the side of Cadillac Mountain. The path the train took remained very popular with hikers for many years after that, until it was abandoned by the park.
So how does one locate a trail by many accounts no one knows where it ran? It took me a few years of searching for it off and on, and one afternoon we ended up tripping over a railroad spike in the brush. That's how I located it, anyways. One big problem was that on Google Books, one account states it knows the location of the lost trail, and than goes on to give the wrong pull over as the starting point.
So to locate the Green Mountain Railroad Trail of Acadia National Park, begin by heading toward the Cadillac Mountain Summit Road. Don't turn up it, drive past it in the direction of Bubbles Pond and Jordan Pond - but as soon as you pass the summit road, begin looking on the right for the first pull over - a short distance away. Drive past this and look for the second pull over - the second one is smaller than the first and is easy to miss. Pull into the second pull over and stand in the center of the pull over and look directly across the roadway - that is where you want to enter the woods.
Once in the woods and up the knoll, the path is at an angle to the left, there is usually a tiny rock pile by a railroad spike, and the ground there will be worn down as it leads up into the woods. There are very few railroad spikes on this end, but there should be a rock pile here and there, and the further you go the more worn the trail becomes. At a couple places the trail may seem to end, just keep in mind for the most part, the train tracks ran in a straight line, turning direction only once, so if the trail seems to end at a tree or two, simply look on the other side of the tree's, and the trail will be right there.
Now there is one spot o the lower end where there is a section of brush you have to cross, walk straight ahead in the same direction you were walking. Not far ahead of this section is one of the surprises you will come upon - a section of railroad bed built up along a rising cliff. Once you get there, the trail is really easy to follow because now more and more railroad spikes can be seen. It is also at this point the trail begins to get very slippery in places - I suggest you wear something with good footing. The granite is covered with moss made slippery from over flowing waters from a nearby brook. The Trail also begins to climb more here. Up through and under some tree's, and your not far from the next surprise.
The surprise is walking through a line of tree's and suddenly seeing that lovely piece of rail that is still on the mountain side. At this point everywhere you look you see piles of rusting railroad spikes, the few they did manage to remove, and than simply left behind in small piles.
Here the trail slopes upward some more, and at first the granite appears to be safe to cross - but in all the times I have hiked this trail, this area is more slippery than any before it. From here the trail enters and exits the woods a few more times, before the granite gives way to dirt, and the trail is very easy to follow without the aid of spikes. But just when you think things are going to good, the trail suddenly ends by thick brush and woods. Clearly the brush has grown up over the trail here and it can't be seen again. At this point your not very far from the Cadillac Mountain Summit road - either walk straight ahead for a short ways until you come to the summit road, or wait until you hear a passing car and walk toward its sound.
At this point you can either go right and follow the summit road a short distance to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, or turn and head left down the summit road to the park loop road. Once at the park loop road, turn left, and head for the second pull over where you parked.
They say the hike is a moderate one, and I would agree, I would also warn anyone attempting it that the trail can be very slippery in places and I know of one hiker who slipped and banged up their knee.
In days gone by, the train went beyond this point, not much beyond, to where a tavern was located on the summit.