Acadia National Park Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by blueskyjohn
  • Things to Do
    by blueskyjohn
  • Things to Do
    by blueskyjohn

Most Recent Things to Do in Acadia National Park

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    Hemlock Road - Carriage Trail

    by blueskyjohn Updated Jul 17, 2015

    Hemlock Road is a dirt carriage trail and walking path. It is not open to motorized vehicles. To access the trail, park at Sieur de Monts Nature Center. I did this walk in conjunction with the Jessup Path. Late afternoon was a perfect time for this. The best section of the Hemlock Path is from the intersection with the Jessup Path to the Park Loop Road. Along this section, the path is lined with Birch trees making for a beautiful contrast of blue skies, green grass and white Birch Trees. It is a very peaceful walk. There is a meadow between Hemlock and Jessup Path here and the wild flowers are great. The trail is about 3/4 of a mile for the section mentioned.

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    The Jessup Path

    by blueskyjohn Updated Jul 17, 2015

    This is an excellent path! I put this tip in the "things to do" section because of it's easy access, flat walkway and short distance. The start of the path is at a very popular area, Sieur de Monts Nature Center. Many people are here throughout most of the day because it has many different trail heads from the parking area. Because of this, I decided to walk this path in the late afternoon, around 6pm. I'm glad I did because it was peaceful and not another person around. By that time, most people are back in Bar Harbor for dinner.

    Much of the path goes through a forest area with high grass. It is unique for the area. Here, the path is a wooden boardwalk. It eventually meets Hemlock Road and the the path turns back to dirt and crosses a large open field. The trail ends at the park loop road and is about 3/4 of a mile long. You can return the way you came or walk south a little ways on the Loop road and meet up with Hemlock Road. This is a dirt carriage road that will also take you back to the parking area.

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    Thunder Hole!

    by blueskyjohn Updated Jul 17, 2015

    Thunder Hole is located along the park loop road. There is a large parking area and even a gift shop. Thunder Hole is across the street from the parking area so be careful crossing. It is a short walk to an overlook platform. There is an impressive interpretive sign explaining a little bit about Thunder Hole. It was created by waves crashing into the shore, eventually a cave was created. The ocean wave enters this cave and has nowhere to go except out the way it came. Because of the shape, the water makes a loud thunderous sound and spray.

    Unfortunately for me, timing was off. The best time to view this is while the about two hours ahead of high tide. The larger waves of the tide coming in is your best chance to experience this. I was here during low tide. However, the rocky coast here is still a nice visit and very picturesque. Maybe next time!

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    Sand Beach

    by blueskyjohn Updated Jul 17, 2015

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    Sand Beach was a nice surprise to see. It is nestled in a cove and has fairly gentle waves. The beach is nearly 900 feet wide and has a gradual approach to the water. The tide variation is large here but even at high tide there is plenty of beach available. The water is cold here at an average temperature of 55 degrees. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer months and no pets are allowed from May 15 to September 15. There is a large parking are for the beach and it can get very crowded with cars, even parking along the road so be careful if you have to park on the road.

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    Drive up to Cadillac Mountain

    by blueskyjohn Updated Jul 17, 2015

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    Cadillac Mountain is the only mountain in Acadia National Park that you can drive to the summit. The summit is 1530 feet above see level and there are beautiful views of the surrounding islands. The mountain was formally called Green Mountain but was renamed Cadillac Mountain in 1918 after French explorer and adventurer Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac. In the late 1800's there was a hotel on the summit but in burnt down in 1895 and not rebuilt. There was also a cog train to the summit but that was sold and moved to Mount Washington in New Hampshire.

    There is a half mile paved trail that loops around the summit that gives views in all directions. The summit is also popular at night for star gazing because the park is open 24 hours.

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    The Wild Gardens of Acadia

    by blueskyjohn Updated Jul 17, 2015

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    Located at the parking area of Sieur de Monts Nature Center, this short path walk takes you through various native plant life in Acadia National Park. The type of area is sectioned off and posted with a small sign showing the environment the plants grow. The areas range from what grows near the beach, along the road side, in coniferous woodlands and meadows. It is a shaded walk with a small stream.

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    Otter Cliffs

    by blueskyjohn Updated Jul 17, 2015

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    Otter Cliffs is along the Park Loop road. The loop road is one way here and you will find a large parking area on the right hand side of the road. Be careful crossing the road. Once across the road you will find the Ocean Path and sign directing you right or left. There are a few signs that direct you to the cliffs and rocks but they are easily seen and can be accessed at any point to explore. Both high tide and low tide offer different experiences. At low tide, there are several tide pools you cab search for marine life. I was here during low tide but could not find much of anything.

    At high tide, the waves are bigger, especially when the tide is coming in. The wave crashing on the rocks can be dramatic. Interesting to watch. Be careful at all times as the rock can be very slippery after rain. The rock here also tend to be jagged and not easy to get around. Good walking or hiking shoes are recommended.

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    Hull's Cove Visitor Center

    by blueskyjohn Updated Jul 17, 2015

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    This is the main visitor center for Acadia National Park. It is located just off Route 3, the main road into Bar Harbor. There is a big sign for this, but only one. There is a pavilion at the parking lot and the visitor center is past that. Up the stairs to the left. In the visitor center is a large topographical model of the Mount Desert Island, which Acadia National Park in on. To the left is a counter with several park rangers on duty to answer questions. The line to ask questions can be long as there or only two or three rangers.

    Important information is to know about the tide schedule as some trails take you close to the water or if you want to walk out to Bar Island. You can also pay your park entrance fee of $25.00 here.

    To the left of the entrance is a gift and souvenir area. They also have excellent hiking maps which I recommend purchasing if you intend to hike. What the park service issues for free is not very good other than to get you to the trail heads.

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    Ride/Bike/Walk a Carriage Road

    by goodfish Updated Feb 21, 2013

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    Recommended: From 1913-1940 John D. Rockefeller had 45 miles of crushed-rock carriage roads constructed within the park so that he (and others) could enjoy horseback and carriage riding away from automobile traffic. These roads are a unique feature of Acadia and were carefully constructed to disrupt as little of the landscape around them as possible. Watch for the 17 bridges built of native stone and each with its own special design.

    Biking: as heavy traffic/big buses on the paved roads (especially Park Loop Road) can be dangerous and darned unpleasant for bikers, these no-cars-allowed paths are perfect for two-wheeling. Bring your own or rent. Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop (www.barharborbike.com) has been outfitting visitors for 30 years and are supposed to be a great resource for best routes. There are a couple other local rental places as well: check the Bar Harbor website.

    Bikes aren't allowed on a few of the privately-owned carriage roads (posted) or any of the hiking trails.

    Carriage Rides: Carriages of Acadia offers 1-2 hour open-carriage rides daily from mid-June to mid-fall. The stables are 1/2 mile south of Jordan Pond House near the junction of Stanley Brook and Park Loop Road:
    http://www.nps.gov/acad/planyourvisit/concessiontours.htm

    These are popular and fill up quickly so reservations are a good idea.

    Hiking/Walking: Whether using them to access a trail or just out for a stroll, they are easy, fun, and very pretty.

    Free Carriage Roads User Guides can be picked up at the Acadia Visitor Centers or downloaded here:

    http://www.nps.gov/acad/planyourvisit/upload/CRUMmap.pdf

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    Sample the local Suds

    by goodfish Updated Feb 6, 2013

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    Mt. Desert Island has excellent local brews and you can sample them either at the breweries themselves or around town at various bars and restaurants. As Maine (when it isn't all about lobster) is famous for blueberries, try at least one of the several blueberry ales. I know, I know - that might sound ghastly to die-hard beer lovers but I found Bar Harbor Brewing Company's True Blue to be pretty tasty. Really.

    Here's where they make the suds:
    Atlantic Brewing Company - www.atlanticbrewing.com for info. Open only during the warmer months, they also serve food , and the Saturday Mainly Meat BBQ is all you can eat for $17 or so. This meatfest is hugely popular so go early!

    Maine Coast Brewing Company/Jack Russell's Brewpub - This is right next door to the Bar Harbor Motel, and there's an outdoor beer garden.

    Bar Harbor Brewing Company and Soda Works - www.barharborbrewing.com for info.

    Yup, it's truly blueberry ale.
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    Out to Sea

    by goodfish Updated Feb 6, 2013

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    Recommended: take a trip on the ocean. While there's tons to do on land in the Acadia area, there's as many things to do on water. Most of the villages and islands in the area are lobstering/fishing communities and the ocean is a vital and historic part of the local culture.

    Among the many options are:
    1. Sea Kayak Tours (Coastal Kayak Tours - 207-288-9605 +other resources)

    2. 2 hr. cruises on the 4-masted schooner, Margaret Todd (shown in the pix) - 207-288-4585, www.downeastwindjammer.com

    3. Whale watching, puffin and/or lighthouse cruises on a huge, jet-powered catamaran - 207-288-2386, www.whalesrus.com

    4. Ferry from Bar Harbor to Schoodic Peninsula (Winter Harbor) - 207-288-2984, http://downeastwindjammer.com/cruises/bar-harbor-ferry/

    5. High-speed passenger/vehicle catamaran service to Nova Scotia - catferry.com

    6. Ferry service to the Acadia section of Isle au Haut - http://www.isleauhaut.com

    7. And my favorite, the Beal and Bunker mailboat to the Cranberry Isles - will cover this in my Islesford pages.

    Choose your preferred option based on interest, cost, amount of people you'll be with (the whale-watching boats carry a LOT of people), and time that you have (The Cat to Novia Scotia and back requires a full day and a passport). Reservations are probably a must during high season, and take your seasickness remedies along if the ocean is rough.

    A note on the Margaret Todd: this lovely schooner is poetry in motion when she's in full sail. Look for her from the Bar Harbor waterfront as she's leaving or returning to dock.

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    VISIT "THUNDER HOLE"

    by Rich62 Updated Jun 6, 2012

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    THERE IS A LARGE "NOTCH" THAT HAS FORMED ALONG THE COAST, and when the waves come sailing into it, they have no where to go. So the water "explodes" against the rock and fires back out.

    "Thunder" is an appropriate term to use for the sound it makes. To us it seemed from a distance like a thousand bass drummers pounding their drums for all they were worth.

    Warning: you may get wet if you proceed past the warning signs. If its really "booming" then be careful. In 2011 a young girl lost her life here as a wave washed her out to sea.

    However on other days when the sea is calm, nothing much is happening here.

    THUNDER HOLE THUNDER HOLE FROM THIS VANTAGE POINT YOU COULD GET WET! VIEWING THUNDER HOLE SPLASH
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    Park Loop Road

    by goodfish Updated Jan 4, 2012

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    Recommended: This is a gorgeous 27-mile scenic drive through coastal, mountain and wooded areas of the park, and yet another brainchild of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (of the carriage roads). Nearly 30 years in the making, it was designed to give motorists an appreciation of the park's many beautiful resources while disturbing the natural landscape as little as possible. National Scenic Byways has designated this drive, along with Route 3 through Bar Harbor, as an All-American Road: the highest rating possible.

    Your tour should start at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center: pick up the "Motorist Guide - Park Loop Road" for a couple of bucks. The booklet maps 18 recommended stops along the way and highlights about each one. It also includes information about parking/pullover locations, restrooms, and some cautionary tips for safe navigation. You might want to give this a quick look-see before you start out.

    This is a great first-day way to get your bearings in the park but it's also the most congested of the park roads (see my warnings/dangers) so if possible, try to do this very early in the morning and allow a couple of hours to half a day as it's definately a not-to-be-rushed.

    Jordan Pond, Acadia N.P
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    Bar Island Boogie

    by goodfish Updated Jan 4, 2012

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    Recommended: This was fun. When the tide is out, you can walk a long gravel bar to little Bar Island from downtown Bar Harbor for nice views of the village from across the water. The bar is solid underfoot but the rocks on either side of the shores are very slippery and kelp-covered so wear good shoes or boots if planning on exploring much. Also make sure you know when the tide is coming IN again so you don't get stranded. There are tidetables in some of the weekly publications, or ask at the Chamber of Commerce info office down by the town pier. You have about 90 minutes before and 90 minutes after (3 hours total) low tide to stay high and dry.

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    Camping Acadia

    by goodfish Updated Jan 4, 2012

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    We didn't camp but here's a little info for tenters:

    There are only two campgrounds in the Mt Desert Isle portion of the park - Blackwoods and Seawall. They have restrooms but no hookups or showers and are mostly for tents, although they can handle a few popups and smaller RVs. Campfires are allowed but no wood-gathering - bring your own or buy some from the commercial campgrounds along Rt. 3. The campgrounds are forested (not on the water), each campsite holds a maximum of 6 people, and mandatory quiet hours are from 10 PM - 6AM. Each has an amphitheater for summer ranger programs.

    Blackwoods, the more popular of the two, has 300 campsites ($20 per site) and reservations are HIGHLY recommended during peak season (see below for phone and website reservations). Seawall ($20 per site) is first-come, first served. The Acadia section of Isle au Haut has a few primitive lean-tos for overnighters. See the park website for more complete info.

    Those wanting a few more creature comforts should check out one of the other commerical campgrounds in the area, such as Mt Desert Campground (207-244-3710, www.mountdesertcampground.com) and White Birches (207-244-3797, www.mainecamper.com).

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Acadia National Park Things to Do

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