On August 18th we left the easternmost area of the United States and headed south to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. I have mentioned before how bad the roads are in Maine, and this trip was no better. The roads do not seem that bad in a car, but in a large vehicle it is a bumpy and rocky trip. By the time we reached the campground the cap on our exhaust pipe had once again worked loose.
Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park are both located on Mount Desert Island. There are no fast food restaurants, box stores or large grocery stores on the island, so just before crossing the Trenton Bridge we stopped at a Walmart Supercenter and stocked up. Before leaving New Hampshire three weeks ago we planned ahead and bought a month’s worth of any drinks that come in bottles and cans because Maine has deposits on all of them. We also liked New Hampshire’s no state sales tax and stocked up on paper products, canned goods etc, keeping in mind we only have so much room in the pantry and freezer.
We then crossed Trenton Bridge onto Mount Desert Island. The views were amazing. Mount Desert Island is the third largest island on the eastern seaboard and the largest rock based island on the Atlantic coast. It is 108 square miles; sixteen miles wide and thirteen miles long. It also has “Some Sound”, the only national fjord on the east coast.
Our major reason for coming to this area was to visit Acadia National Park. We had so much to see and do, we hit the ground running the next day. We stopped by the Visitors Center first and bought an audio tape tour of the park to listen to as we drove around the Park Loop Road. Unlike most parks, they did not have a free list of hiking trails so we bought a book on hiking trails in the park that listed details such as length and difficulty.
Acadia National Park is the second most visited national park in the country with over two million visitors a year (Smoky Mountain is the most visited) and one of the smallest. It covers over 2/5 of Mount Desert Island and is 35,000 acres in area with 41 miles of spectacular coastline. Established in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson, it is the oldest American national park east of the Mississippi River, the only national park in the northeast, and the first park where land was donated to the federal government (most notable being 11,000 acres by John D Rockefeller, Jr). The park has a diverse landscape with glacial mountain ridges, rivers, lakes and streams carved from receding glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age, woodland forests and miles of dramatic rocky coastline.
French explorer Samuel Champlain documented the first European record of this area in 1604. Attempts were made to settle the island after his visit but 150 years of war between the French and British made the area unsafe for habitation until 1761 when English colonists established a permanent settlement. Colonists farmed, fished, quarried granite and engaged in shipping. When tourists began to arrive in the mid 1800’s, tourism became a new and important source of income. The small farming and fishing villages were transformed with hotels and large extravagant summer cottages for wealthy summer residents.
This first day our plan was to drive the 27 mile Park Loop Road and listen to the audio tour.
This took pretty much all day because of all the overlooks where we passed some beaver lodges and admired the magnificent beauty of the park.
Our last stop of the day was on Cadillac Mountain which at 1,530 feet is the highest point on the eastern seaboard north of Rio de Janeiro. Bill and I spent two days in Acadia back in 2011. It was rainy and foggy and we couldn’t see a thing from Cadillac Mountain. What a difference today was! We had a 360° view of Bar Harbor, Frenchman Bay and Cranberry Isles (see our video below). One bit of drama was I left my cell phone in the restroom. Thirty minutes later as we were getting ready to leave I remembered. Fortunately some kind person has turned it in to the gift shop personnel.
We knew we wanted to do some hiking and with 120 miles of hiking trails in the park we had several to choose from. Our first choice was the Ocean Path Trail which we started at Sand Beach, a popular spot in the park. In order to get a parking spot this time of year you have to arrive no later than 10:00 A.M. The trail was an easy hike along the cliff with views of Sand Beach and the coastline.
Sunday was our one foggy day and we drove past a harbor and hiked up 200 primitive rock steps and along a trail to find two geocaches. What we thought was going to be an easy walk turned into a longer hike along a rocky trail with big tree roots in the path. But we found two geocaches!
On Wednesday we hiked the popular Jordan Pond Trail which took us around the beautiful peaceful pond where we saw kayakers.
In the next blog we will talk about Bar Harbor and a couple special activities!
- Maine has 3,500 miles of coastline. That is all the way across the United States and halfway back.
- There are over 3,000 islands along Maine’s coast.
- Maine’s coastline has so many deep harbors, it could provide anchorage for all the navy fleets in the world.
- Smoking is prohibited in a motor vehicle by the driver or passenger when a person under the age of 16 is present.