In sticking with our "uniquely Acadia" theme, the South Bubble is a superb short hike.
The trail begins in the center of the parking lot. At the first trail sign, take a left. You are getting on the "Carry Trail", but the sign only says, Jordan Pond 0.4mi. The trail follows a stream bed that is usually dry. This part of the hike is not terribly interesting. Note: Between 2006 and 2007 some remarkable work has been done on this trail making the footing better and turning this section of the hike into a much more pleasant experience.
At Jordan Pond, a foot bridge comes in from the left. You are almost going to make a u-turn as the South Bubble Trail begins a steep rise upward. After ascending a short distance, you can look south along Jordan Pond. On the left is Pemetic Mountain; on the right, Mt. Penobscot and Jordan Cliffs. Looking to the south there appear to be two indentations in the pond. The right one is the lawn of the Jordan Pond House. The small rise behind Jordan Pond House is Redfield Hill.
Note: Sometime between 2007 and 2011, some work has been done on this trail making the climb more step than scramble. As such, it is much easier for most hikers and a disappointment for those who liked it the way it was!
Note:The side effect of making the trail easier: a greater number of less sophisticated climbers and who believe the world is their garbage can. If I had a supermarket-size bag with me, I could easily have filled it from the trail plus the parking lot
As the climb continues, the view starts to change. About 2/3 of the way up, the trail becomes very steep with a few iron rungs to help pull yourself along. If you take a moment here, the peak behind and to the left of Pemetic is Cadillac Mountain. On a sunny day, the reflections of the cars on the auto road are pretty easy to see.
On the west, Penobscot ridge gives way to Sargent Mountain. And looking to the south, Redfield Hill merges with Barr Hill, a larger rise almost directly behind it. Behind that from left to right are two fingers of water: Seal Harbor and Long Pond, which ultimately merge with the ocean.
The peak of the South Bubble has a large cairn, and a nice panorama of everything mentioned to date. In addition, the North Bubble appears and it is a wonderful view.
Shortly after the summit, the trail descends back down the south Bubble, making the right at the next trail sign. As you proceed down, you can make a longer hike out of it by taking a left up the North and even onward to Connor's Nubble, but the best views that make this short hike "Uniquely Acadia" have been had. Continuing down, you will soon pass the intersection where you originally turned on the Carry Trail toward Jordan Pond. Going straight will have you back at the Bubble Rock Parking Lot in another few minutes.
You've experienced a great set of views that cover most of the central and south central parts of Mount Desert Island. The hike also afforded you the opportunity to determine if you would be comfortable trying the Beehive Trail, which is slightly longer, but a bit steeper with more exposed cliffs and iron rungs.
Updated: 8/8/11, 8/25/12