We pretty seriously overextended ourselves hiking one day and could just barely move the next morning. Should you find yourself in a similar predicament, this is a great little diversion that's also good for walking off those stiff knees. Little Cranberry is the second-largest of the Cranberry Isles, has one tiny village (Islesford), and is an interesting peek at life off of the mainland. Although there are other ways to get there, we did it like the locals do and took the mail boat out of Northeast Harbor.
Unless you're staying on the island (summer rentals are available) the three hours you'll have until the boat makes its next return trip is just about right for getting the feel of the place. See my Little Cranberry Isle pages for more info on Beal and Bunker Mail Boat services and some background on the island.
Acadia is a beautiful park and often the main park area near Bar Harbor is very crowded. When I hike I like solitude... living in NYC you really want to escape from people piled on top of each other.
If you look at a map of Acadia the park spans across land masses that resemble a pair of lungs. Most folks stay on the right or East side near Bar Harbor.
The left or West side of the park is often ignored or overlooked by visitors. And there is a lot of great hiking. The Beech Mtn Loop has a fire tower at the summit. Didn't encounter another person the whole time I was hiking. Flying Mtn trail has great views of Somme Sound and feeds into the longer trail of St. Sauveur Mtn and Acadia Mtn. Acadia Mtn is considered strenuous but worth the vista of Sommes Sound. Encounterd very few folks.
There are several other trails that I didn't personally get to try out. If you are looking for an easy relaxing trail with a great few and place to stop and read, draw, ponder... try the trail near Ship Harbor off of 120A and down the way from the Wonderland trail. There is an area of rock outcrops that are perfect for sitting and looking out at the ocean.
Approximately half of Mount Desert Island is the site of Acadia National Park. The other half of the island is privately owned land, including half a dozen small towns. The largest of these is the town of Bar Harbor.
Bar Harbor, on the northeastern end of the island, is a quaint seaside town and also a major hub of activity and commerce for the island. I list it here as off-the-beaten-path because it is outside the boundaries of the National Park.
Some people come to Bar Harbor and never even go into Acadia National Park. That's a real shame and they are cheating only themselves. On the other hand, if you visit Acadia National Park you also should take time to see Bar Harbor.
In this scenic town you will find hotels, restaurants, shopping, museums, parks and access to boat and bus tours. It's the perfect staging point for your visit to Acadia. For more information about Bar Harbor, please check out my Bar Harbor page here on VT.
Acadia National Park includes several small uninhabited offshore islands. One of these, Bar Island, can be reached by foot from Bar Harbor at low tide. In fact, this famous gravel bar is what gave the harbor and town of Bar Harbor their name.
We were fortunate to be present at low tide and joined several dozen other people who made the trek across the exposed bar. On the island is a short hiking trail through the forest and not much else.
A couple of people actually drove their vehicles across to the island on the day of our visit. a few others were going across to camp for the night, awaiting tomorrow's low tide to make their return trip. Those who spend any time on the island should be aware of the tide schedule, or else risk being stranded for several hours if caught by a rising tide. The tides in this area have an unusually large fluctuation between high and low.
The Bar may be reached by going immediately north of the West Street town pier in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Somes Sound cuts for 7 miles right through the center of both Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park, yet it is definitely off the beaten path. The Sound, which is the only Fjord on the eastern coast of the United States, can be most easily accessed by a narrow (autos only) road, Sargent Drive, which borders much of it's eastern shoreline. The Acadia Mountain hiking trail leads along a portion of the western shore. Also Fernald Point Road leads to The Narrows at the mouth of the sound.
Somes Sound is the largest of several north and south aligned gouges scooped out by glaciers during prehistoric ice ages. The ice would have been more than a mile high and up to two miles across.
Karen and I saw few other tourists along Somes Sound, yet we thought it one of the most unique and beautiful parts of the National Park. We especially enjoyed the peace and quite, with only a few songbirds chirping, as we watched sailboats silently gliding along the surface of the turquoise blue waters.
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is a part of Acadia National Park, but is away from the main part of the park. It stands on a high rocky cliff at the entrance to Bass Harbor on the southwestern side of Mount Desert Island, Maine. This picturesque lighthouse was built in 1858 and stands 56 feet above mean high water. It is accessible by car via Highway 102 and 102-A. Bass Harbor is a part of the municipality of Tremont.
There is a small parking area near the lighthouse with a path on the left side. This will take you to a stairway that follows down the front face of the cliff. This is a good spot for photos, but the best pictures are made my taking a scramble down the cliff at low tide, over slippery rocks. I did this, but don't necessarily recommend it as it was a bit risky.
The grounds are open to the public year round, 9 a.m. to sunset. The lighthouse itself is closed except for occasional tours offered by the Tremont Historical Society. They can be contacted at the number below for more information.
Don't expect the traditional tall standing lighthouse here!
We overheard many visitors complain that there is not much to this 19th century lighthouse. It's true that the lighthouse is short but it sits upon a cliff where it serves its purpose.
The lighthouse is located a short detour off Me. 102 A.
Located in Wells, ME on ME.9 off US 1 this refuge strecthes from Kittery to Cape Elizabeth. There is hiking, canoeing, scenic drives and cross-country sking.
It is located about 160 miles from Acadia NP.
Migrating waterfowl and shorebirds all occupy this national refuge. There is over 25 offshore islands. The refuge has 2 trails that run thru firs, blueberry barrens and rocky coasts.
The refuge has one of the largest seabird nesting colonies in ME ans a 123ft lighthouse.(closed to public April-Aug.)
Located by US 1 in Steuben, ME around 35 miles from Schoodic area on Acadia NP.
Located in Calais, ME this is mainly a a refuge habitat for the American woodcock as well as other waterfowl.
There are 2 wilderness areas ranging 24,409 acres. It is open all year round from sun up to sun down. Hiking,boating, biking and winter sports are popular activities
The Baring Unit center is located 75 miles from Acadia NP off US1.
Sone of my travel guides suggested that we drive the Schoodic Peninsula, a part of Acadia National Park that is not as crowded but still has good ocean views. We arrived later in the day on a day that was a bit foggy but were still able to enjoy some of the views.
If you visit Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse on the western peninsula of Mount Desert Island, be sure and see it from the rocks. There are easy steps down the embankment to the rocks. You will need to be very careful as you walk out on the rocks but will be rewarded with a great view of the lighthouse.
As soon as we entered Maine in early June and saw tulips blooming we realized it was springtime. The blooming plants appeared to be a couple of months behind our bloom shedule in east Texas. The easy walk through the Wild Gardens provided a close-up look at many of the wild flowers and plants. It also helps one to be able to identify some unfamiliar plants since they are nicely labeled. There is also a nature center and museum at the same stop.
There are beavers in Acadia . . . and they're in beaver lake. But they're not easy to see.
The best time to see the beavers is at dusk. Take a camera (proof) and binoculars (they won't come too close) and be very patient.
The sheer cliffs of the Precipice trail should be scaled. Its really intense, but quite rewarding to endure such a hike. Don't be frightened by its profile. It seems with a little determination its do-able by all ages and shapes. I saw 5-year olds to 75-year olds, each pacing it differently. Bring water, lots of it. Sweat seems to rob your body of all liquids.