Kayaking around the Stonington Archipelago
Here's the lay of the land: Blue Hill Peninsula is a true peninsula. Just south is Deer Isle, which is a true island. Deer Isle is connected to the Peninsula by a car bridge, so all of Deer Isle is now easily accessible. Which is a good thing, because some of the best kayaking is just south of Deer Isle in the Stonington Archipelago.
We booked a 4-hour guided kayak trip with Monica of Old Quarry Ocean Adventures (Captain Bill's outfit). Captain Bill runs a first-rate outdoor operation with a wide variety of activities. Our guide, Monica, was fantastic. She is great with a kayak, and I learned much about lobstering, since she comes from a family of lobstermen. She even had her own lobster license for a while. Many of my lobster facts on my Blue Hill and Vinalhaven pages came from Monica. You can cover quite a bit during a 4-hour kayak trip!
Monica took us out past several islands in the Archipelago. We stopped at one island for lunch. This island was a former granite quarry, which is now a swimming hole. I thought the water was a bit brackish for a swim, so we just sat on the big granite boulders and had a lunch of fresh Maine blueberries and aged Vermont cheddar cheese.
Visit Acadia National Park
Blue Hill is 30-45 minutes from Acadia National Park, so a visit to the park makes a nice day trip. Cars are allowed throughout the park, and it is also nice to get out of the car and walk along the 45 miles of carriage roads financed by John D Rockefeller Jr. between 1913 and 1940.
The roads are relatively flat, wide and have good surfaces, making them ideal for bicyclists of all abilities. The problem is how to get a bike on the carriage roads? Some websites suggest that all you have to do is rent bicycles in Bar Harbor (nearest town to entrance), and you are set to go zipping around. It's not that easy. First of all Bar Harbor isn't right next to the park entrance. Second, many of the roads for auto traffic are not suitable for bicycles because of lack of shoulders and too much traffic. The carriage roads don't permit auto traffic, so in theory they should be great for bicycles, but there is no bicycle rental place within miles. The entrance to the carriage roads is nowhere near Bar Harbor.
When we discovered all of this, we had to scrap our bicycle rental plans, and we just explored on foot (which was quite nice). I think the Park should have a bicycle rental concessionaire right by the carriage trails entrance. Just a suggestion.
- National/State Park
Crockett Cove Woods Nature Preserve
For an easy walk in the woods, head south to Deer Isle and hike the nature trail in Crockett Cove Woods Nature Preserve. The trail winds through a mature spruce fir forest and a stretch of tamarack dominated swamp. Crockett Cove Woods was donated to the Nature Conservancy by artist/builder Emily Muir. Its 98-acre preserve is covered by a dense spruce and fir forest and is a "coastal fog forest". The woods are extremely beautiful. The trail is muddy in places, even in July, so hiking boots are recommended.
- Hiking and Walking
Hike up Blue Hill
In Maine, they call Blue Hill a mountain. In California, we would call it a speed bump. OK, so it's not Mount Whitney. It nonetheless has a very nice hiking trail up to the top going through a very lush forest on one side and a meadow full of wildflowers on the other.
This photo was taken from the top of Blue Hill. You'll note that the so-called "peak" is very flat. It was hard to tell we were at any peak. Unfortunately, the day was a bit hazy, so my camera couldn't pick out the ocean and islands off in the distance. I understand, however, that on a good day, you will get a stunning view of the Blue Hill Bay.
- Hiking and Walking
Hike up Blue Hill Mountain
It takes a couple of hours to climb this small mountain, paths through the woods are constantly being changed due to erosion from snowfall, rain, etc. If you go in the early summer beware the mosquitoes; if you go in the later summer look for blueberries growing on the rockface as you near the top! Great views of the water from the top, and a radio tower that you may or may not be able to climb...
And stock up at the general store in town before you go!
- Hiking and Walking