One of two routes up the south side of Dorr Mountain, the A. Murray Young Path is a hidden jewel in the Acadia National Park trail system. Because it sits relatively far from major roads in a gorge between Cadillac and Dorr mountains, it can be one of the quietest places in the park even on a busy day.
A strenuous rock scramble no matter which direction you’re traveling, the trail stretches 1.2 miles. It must be paired with other trails when planning a hike, though, because there’s no car or bus access.
For many hiking groups, it works well to climb Dorr Mountain via the Ladder Trail or South Ridge, and then take the Murray Young Path down. That way, when you have already passed the peak, the flora and fauna and babbling brook in the quiet valley between the south ridges of Dorr and Cadillac mountains seem even more special.
“I rarely hike down the same trail I’ve hiked up,” Bar Harbor resident Noreen Hogan says. “Most people want to do a loop. But that said, even if you take the same trail, you’ll notice different things going the other direction.”
On the steeper slopes and higher elevations on the mountain, there are low-bush blueberry, scraggly pitch pine, and ever-present Maine white pine. Throughout the trail, you’ll see several varieties of birch trees, including yellow and silver.
If you start at the northern (uphill) end, the first part of the Murray Young trail offers new views every few feet. Near the top, you see out to the waters of the Great Harbor of Mount Desert Island and some of the Cranberry islands. As you descend, a mountain valley opens up below. There may be turkey vultures circling, easy to confuse with other birds of prey like hawks.
“Turkey vultures get kind of a bad rap,” Hogan said. “But I find them to be really majestic.”
As you continue down into the valley much of the trail is shady, with canopy cover on the lower slopes of Dorr provided by red maple, northern red oak and big-tooth aspen, mixed with white pine beech and some white ash.
A closer look down at the rocks around the trail will reveal all sorts of ferns, skunk currant (smooth stems) or bristly gooseberry (prickly stems), and Canada mayflower, also known as wild lily-of-the-valley.
There may be stumps or downed logs with holes drilled by woodpeckers.
Many of the hiking trails in Acadia have long histories, and the Young path is no exception. The original trail dates to 1897, before the founding of Acadia National Park. It was one of the paths on Dorr Mountain created by the Bar Harbor Village Improvement Association (VIA).
Andrew Murray Young, for whom it is now named, was a New York investment banker who was an active member of the Bar Harbor Paths Committee of the VIA during summers spent in Bar Harbor.
The path, rebuilt in 1924-1925, was funded by Marie Hunt Young in memory of her husband, who had just died. The restored trail path was reopened in 1925 by then-park superintendent George Dorr.
The memorial plaque, near the southern end of the path at a stream crossing, commemorates Young’s life and dedication to the outdoors. “In memory of Andrew Murray Young,” it reads, “Who loved this island where God has given of His beauty with a lavish hand, 1861-1924.”
The Young Path makes a cool-down and trailside picnic destination after a rigorous climb up Cadillac. You could park on Route 3 at the Cannon Brook trailhead and climb Cadillac’s South Ridge via Cannon Brook trail, make a right turn at the Cadillac summit, descend the Gorge Path, and turn onto the Young Path at its northern end.
Or, especially when the Island Explorer bus is running, you could climb the Gorge path beginning on the Park Loop Road and continue south on the Young Path, walking the whole length of the gorge between the mountains. That would be about a three-mile hike if you get back on the bus at the Cannon Brook trailhead on Route 3.