Friday, May 28, 2021

Visiting Acadia National Park

Just as National Parks never do, Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine did not disappoint. Covering half of Mount Desert Island, Acadia became a national park in 1919.

We had about a day and a half in the park, so I'd researched a bit ahead of time to see which spots most people were recommending. In our first afternoon there, we drove almost the entire Park Loop Road, a 27 mile loop through the park, just to get a lay of the land and get acclimated to the the area. It also served as a way to see most of the park quickly, at least from a car window. 

After getting my bearings on the place in the first drive through, I made a little list of highlights that I wanted to go back and do on our second day.

Here's what we did and why I loved it:

Jordan Pond Path- A three mile, mostly flat hike around the entire Jordan Pond. It was a fun hike because it was pretty easy, but some rock obstacles and about a half mile of walking on raised wooden planks made it more dynamic. There are lots of things to look at and it was a very tranquil way to spend about 90 minutes. 

Beehive Trail-This is a trail that is on the extreme side. I read about it ahead of time, knew about as much as I could (not tons) and really wanted to give it a try. I knew it wasn't a very long hike and I also knew that there were iron handles and ladder runs installed in the side of the mountain to help you climb. It is pretty much like rock climbing without any gear on, like ropes or harnesses. My camera battery died about 30 seconds into this hike, so I just had to carry around a worthless piece of nothing the whole time! Check out this blog post for a really great description of this and pictures of the trail. It was a fun challenge and admittedly terrifying at times. Luckily it only took about 30 minutes or so to get all the way up, so the fright did not last too long. 

Bar Island Path-This is a small island right off of downtown Bar Harbor. It can be accessed by a sand bridge only in the time of low tide. People can walk across on the sand, but then that path is gone at high tide. So essentially we walked across the ocean floor. You need to be sure and walk back early enough before the tide comes in, or you'll lose your way back. Even when we walked back a part started to go underwater already. We hopped between a few rocks to not get our shoes wet. 

Bass Harbor Head Light House-This is located a bit away from the main part of the park, but was perfect for us because it was less than a 10 minute drive from where we stayed. This was the first light house I ever went to that you couldn't really stand on solid ground to see. In this case, we had to climb along the rocky shoreline along side the lighthouse to get a glimpse of it. We were there right when the sun was starting to go down, so it made for some heavily back lit photos. It's always fun stepping around on these rocky coastlines. 

Thunder Hole-The thunder hole was a cool stop. There are amazing rock formations to sit around on to experience great views and tranquility. Carved naturally out of the coastal rocks, waves have been hitting the small inlet for centuries. Because there is a small cavern at the bottom of the inlet, the combination of the waves hitting the rocks and the release of air from the cavern cause a sound just like thunder. You need to be here at the right time to hear and see the full effect, which is half way between low and high tide. We got a little action while there, but defiantly not the amazing powerful display that it's known for. 

Top of Mt. Cadillac-There is a hike to the top of this, but we just drove our car up. It's a popular spot to catch a sunrise, technically the first place to see sunrise in the U.S. I wasn't too enthusiastic about getting up before sun-up to do this. We went in the morning and it was quiet and tranquil, no wind at all. It's the highest point in Acadia and the highest point on the North Atlantic seaboard. 

There are tons of accommodations around Acadia National Parks. Lots of small motels, bed and breakfasts, off site campgrounds, yurts, and cottages. Most area all located in the surrounding communities to the park, many in Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor and more. I did some research, but from my computer in Michigan I feel I was only exposed to a fraction of the places to stay that there actually are. I thought it would be fun to try and stay in a small cottage while there so my Google search ended up pointing me to Acadia Cottages in Southwest Harbor. It was adorable, nice, private, and quite as a place to stay for two nights. The cottage was located about 15 miles from entrances to Acadia, so it meant about a 25 minute drive to and from the park a couple of times. I'd probably recommend staying a little closer if you can, but it wasn't too much of an inconvenience.