Today was Rich’s day to decide on our adventures! Two hikes piqued his interest: trying the Hunters Brook Trail for the first time, and checking on the condition of the Jordan Stream Trail. We hiked Jordan Stream last year and found it to be a mess, although a trail crew was hard at work replacing bridges and restoring treadway at the beginning of the trail. We’ve been interested to see how far they got and whether they replaced any of the bridges that were literally falling apart last year.
Although we were very interested in Jordan Stream, we were both leaning toward doing Hunters Brook instead, since we had a beautiful full day ahead of us and we knew Hunters Brook would be the longer of the two hikes. (What I mean is that the shorter Jordan Stream trail could possibly be hiked one morning when rain was predicted for the afternoon, or vice versa.)
Neither of us, not even Rich!, has hiked Hunters Brook before. The reason is simply that there’s no good way to make a loop hike involving the trail, and we always prefer loops to out-and-back hikes. But with the Island Explorer bus service, hiking the trail in one direction suddenly becomes possible!
We took the Jordan Pond bus to the trailhead for the Pond Trail (which is now being renamed the Bubbles-Jordan Pond Trail). The trail begins just before the Jordan Pond House. Although it’s not an official stop, the driver will let you off here if you alert him ahead of time.
Our planned route was to follow the Pond Trail up to the Triad Pass Trail, then continue to Hunters Brook. It was a beautiful climb, rocky and slightly rooted, with sunlight falling through the trees and creating the typical soft speckled patterns on the path. Even in dry years this area stays pretty moist, so trailside moss abounds. We crossed a few new wooden bridges and an older bogwalk before encountering a brand new (probably as of this season) wooden stairway with new vegetation planted alongside. It’s going to weather over the winter and will look much more at home next season.
Just past the wooden stairs, stone steps led us up to bare ledges, which we climbed to achieve a clear view of the bald head of Penobscot Mountain across the pond. The surface of Jordan Pond is just barely visible from this elevation. I posed on a glacial erratic for Rich to take some photos while the conditions were just right.
Beyond this open ledge the trail continues to climb, passing through the open piney woods typical of Acadia’s mountains. Then once we began to descend, we were in deeper woods, in which we remained for the rest of the hike. The Hunters Brook trail, especially once it begins to follow the brook itself, is very rooty and provides difficult footing, just enough to make it a good challenge, and then it heads a little further into the woods to a softer treadway, and then back again. It crosses the brook several times on large rocks, never any wooden bridges.
We found neat plants here and spent time taking photos even on a day when we figured conditions wouldn’t be amenable. We found one wild orchid (probably a lady’s slipper, but the flower was long dead, shriveled and black so I’m not sure) just as we started to descend and then a nice grouping of what we later discovered were downy rattlesnake plantain very close to the intersection with the carriage road. I almost shrieked when I found them! The leaves are blue with a striking pattern of white almost like a snakeskin pattern, and they form rosettes. Three of the rosettes had sent up flower stalks. They too were past their prime, but one was a bit fresher than the others and hinted that the flowers had been little white bells. Beautiful and other-worldly!
We hiked slowly and only encountered one other person on the entire Hunters Brook trail—just the way we like it. It was almost like hiking an abandoned trail. The trail itself could benefit from a little work but it’s easily hikeable as-is and has a rustic appeal that we both responded positively to. After a long (but always too short!) hike we came out to the Park Loop Road. A bus came along within ten minutes.
We had pretty much planned in advance that supper would be easy, and one of our favorites (so it’s always an easy choice): Rosalie’s! (You could have guessed.) This time we split a medium pizza, topped half with onion and half with pepperoni. It was the first time I ate all four slices and actually had room for a 5th! (I didn’t get one, but normally by the third slice I’m slowing down.) Guess the hike made me hungrier than I thought. We rounded out the evening with 22-ounce beers and warm quiet conversation as always.