Acadia National Park is unlike any other National Park I’ve been to. The park sits on the outskirt of the bustling city of Bar Harbor, Maine. Within 30 minutes you can go from a mountain hike, to a fancy seaside lobster feast. Although on the smaller size, there is a lot to experience within Acadia National Park!
We stayed at Otter Creek Inn in Mount Desert. Mount Desert is only ten minutes from the Acadia National Park entrance and Bar Harbor. It is the perfect location to be out of the Bar Harbor crowds, and close to the park. Otter Creek Inn has a market attached to it, which is very convenient. We were greeted with a friendly face, and a case of beer as we checked in. Our stay came with a free breakfast that included delicious breakfast sandwiches to fuel us for our hikes!
If you’ve ever researched Acadia National Park, I’m sure that watching the sunrise at Cadillac Mountain is one of the first recommendations you saw. I can vouch that it is well worth waking up at 4 a.m. to catch one of the first places sunlight strikes in the United States. We arrived 30 minutes or so before the sunrise and there were still many parking spots available. The summit has a family friendly pathway for easy access to anyone visiting. Watching the sunrise is a spectacular way to start your day in Acadia.
If you’re looking to fuel up before your next hike, Jordan’s Restaurant is a local diner, and the only spot we found to be open before 6:30 a.m. Order the blueberry pancakes with blueberry syrup!
If you’re feeling extra brave, don’t miss out on the Bee Hive Trail hike. Bee Hive is a 2 mile, round trip hike that is rated difficult. Iron rung ladders, handrails, and other hardware are used to help hikers make their way up the granite edged peak. I’m terrified of heights. This was one of the scariest hikes I’ve done, but I found if I kept a good pace and kept my eyes on the summit prize, it wasn’t too scary. I recommend starting off with this hike, as it gets extremely busy as the day goes on. Also, I’m all about getting the most difficult hike out of the way first!
Close to the Beehive Trail, is the Ocean Path Trail. Ocean Path is extremely family friendly and crowded. While researching, I read that Ocean Path runs along the main Park Loop Road, but I didn’t realize that meant literally. Throughout the entire path, we were practically on top of the road and in crowds of people. The most interesting (and relatively quiet) part of the path was when we veered off onto “Boulder Beach.” The beach is made up of large, smooth, bowling ball rocks. We sat and enjoyed a local beer as it was the only spot we found peace on this trail. If you’re looking for an easy path to enjoy the scenery, this is your trail! If you’re looking to avoid walking with crowds, avoid the path, as each point of interest can easily be accessed through driving and parking at each stop.
Jordan Pond is another classic Acadia spot that shouldn’t be missed. You can take in the views while enjoying an infamous popover and blueberry lemonade at the Jordan Pond House restaurant. Or, you can walk the easy, 3.5 mile Jordan Pond Path loop around the pond. The path seemed busy near the restaurant, but as soon as we walked on the path away from the crowds, the trail became peaceful. If you don’t want to walk the entire loop, I recommend beginning the walk counter clockwise, as the views were more impressive.
That’s enough relaxing, time for another fun hike! The North Bubble and Corner Nubbles hike is the perfect mix of panoramic views, boulder hopping, and forest frolicking. Do your trail research ahead of time and pay attention to trail markers. Taking a wrong turn can easily turn this 3.5 mile hike into much longer. This trailhead becomes extremely crowded toward the early afternoon, even late morning. We started the trail around 8 a.m. and by the time we were leaving a few hours later, the parking lot was completely full.
Anemone Cave, located below Schooner Head Overlook, is a great spot for tide pool lurking. Check the tide charts to arrive near the lowest tide. Wear proper shoes, the cave is very slippery!
On the West side of Acadia National Park, you will find Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. Again, it is best to go at low tide so you’re able to walk out on the rocks for the best view of the light. I had read that this side of Acadia was less busy, but it was just as busy, if not more, than the East side of the park.
I was in Acadia for less than two days, and feel like I was able to experience the best of what it had to offer. Whether you’re looking for a sketchy hike to feel a little more alive, wanting a relaxing stroll, or day at the beach, Acadia is accommodating to all!
For more information on Bar Harbor or surrounding coastal Maine towns, check out my blog post here!