Acadia National Park is the jewel of the state of Maine, and New England’s only national park. And appropriately so – the coastal sea cliffs and cobblestone beaches are just what we’ve come to expect from New England!
Acadia feels compact and cozy. The majority of the park is located on Mount Desert island, with one main loop road to guide you to the main sites. This makes it very easy to navigate around the park.
The loop road is quite scenic, especially the coastal portions, and we found it easy to pull over at any time to take in the views.
Take a Hike: Rungs and Ladders Included
As there are no dramatic elevations in Acadia National Park, most hikes are a couple hours at most. This makes it easy to fit more than one hike into a day if you wanted to. Also, many of the hikes interconnect with one another making it simple to jump from one to another at any point in time. Or, to get disoriented and off track, which may or may not have happened to us…
Our favorite hike was the Precipice Trail, which is known as the most thrilling and dangerous hike in the park. This makes it sound more dramatic than it is, as this is in comparison to the other hikes in the park (which are generally on the mild side). However, given that you do climb ladders and are fairly exposed at times, this hike is not for those with a fear of heights.
However, if you are not height averse, then this hike is strongly recommended as the views from the top are worth it!
Who knew that we could cap off a day of hiking in the forested mountains with an afternoon at the beach! Nestled cozily between two walls of vibrant granite, Sand Beach feels like a secret waiting to be discovered. And we did just that – stumbling onto the beach completely by chance when pulling over in search of a restroom.
We were surprised to find such a beautiful beach in the middle of the park and enjoyed letting our feet rest after a day of hiking. Though we heard the water is quite cool, that didn’t seem to stop others from jumping right in!
Jordan Pond is a glacier-formed lake in Acadia, which also happens to house the only restaurant within the park. Though we didn’t indulge in a snack break, we did take a hike along the Shore Trail. This is an essentially flat walk around the perimeter of the lake.
The foliage around the pond is said to be stunning in autumn, but we seemed to have arrived a couple weeks too early to catch the colors!
Bed and Breakfast
I don’t know if there is a more appropriate accommodation for a coastal getaway than a cozy B&B right on the ocean. We stayed in a lovely bed & breakfast with oceanfront views and an eccentric yet generous host. The friendly household pups welcomed us home each night – which was at a fairly early hour given that the park is fairly quiet at dusk – and we spent our evenings playing board games or discovering the many little trinkets scattered around the home.
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
Bass Harbor Head is a tiny but cute lighthouse built back in 1855. Though it no longer functions as a lighthouse (instead it is a private home for a Coast Guard member), the surrounding areas are still open to the public.
We brought some snacks and wine and sat out on the rocks below the lighthouse to watch the sunset. We weren’t the only ones with this idea, as at least 20-30 other people were out on the rocks with us. We were spread far enough apart that this wasn’t a bother, except for some photographers who did not hesitate to express their disdain when someone stepped in front of their lens.
Despite the small group of co-observers, it was well worth visiting the lighthouse. Watching the sky change colors behind it provided a lovely view!
Once it was too dark to enjoy any further nature sites, we headed over to Beals Lobster Pier, one of the many seafood shacks in the area. It was time to consume back all the calories we had burned hiking! Plus one can’t visit this state without trying the famous “Maine Lobster” and other fried seafood delicacies.
We can see why Acadia is one of the top visited parks in the USA, and we definitely enjoyed our stay. It’s an easy place to visit in a couple days and feel that you get a good handle on the park. Of course, there are enough hikes, sites and carriage trails to fill weeks, but you can gain a good sense of the park within only a few days.