Originally, Acadia National Park was a national monument centered around the Sieur de Monts area at the north end of The Tarn at the foot of Dorr Mountain. Many of the trails that climb Dorr Mountain were built then. These original trails all have “path” in their name. They often have steep sections with amazing stonework. I’ve been known to hike several in one day and not even bother summitting. They’re just so much fun and scenic. (These historic paths are connected to Ladder Trail by Schiff Path, high on the shoulder of Dorr Mountain.)
Ladder Trail climbs Dorr Mountain from the south end of The Tarn. You can park at Sieur de Monts and make a loop, descending one of the historic trails or park along ME3 south of The Tarn and use the Ladder Trailhead. (There’s a parking area a few tenths of a mile farther for the Canon Brook Trailhead. You can use that trailhead and connect to Ladder Trail with Tarn Trail.)
When you look at Dorr Mountain from ME3 or from Hugenot Head, you can see a prominent line of cliff that drops from the shoulder of the mountain all the way down to the valley. Ladder Trail climbs Dorr Mountain along the base of this cliff. Lots of stone steps. You’ll begin to wonder why it’s Ladder Trail and not Stair Trail.
As you climb, the cliff becomes lower. Eventually, you reach a spot where boulders are piled against it, blocking your path. The trail turns left and makes its way around the base of the rocks. But to continue the climb, you need to be on top of the boulders. That’s where the ladder comes in.
The trail passes through a boulder, then you climb atop it using the ladder. The trail crosses the top of the boulder and begins climbing again. The cliff peters out and Ladder Trail ends at Schiff Path. To summit, follow it. You climb more steps then a series of granite slabs. You get great views along the way.
Dorr Mountain’s summit has great views in every direction, including of nearby Cadillac Mountain.
In addition to descending the ways already described, there are several choices. You can descend the north or south ridge trails (easiest way). Or descend into the notch between Dorr and Cadillac Mountains. From there (depending on where you parked) you can follow Gorge Path north and around the mountain or A Murray Young Path south and around the mountain on Canon Brook Trail.
The shortest way is just to hike Ladder Trail as a 2.0 miles out and back with about 1000 feet of climbing. But what fun is that?