Finding Remote Acadia
In the Sunday, August 5th Bangor Daily News there was an article about a couple from Florida who make it their pastime to find the remotest spot in every state. They worked out that a spot six miles north northwest from Mt. Katahdin is Maine’s most remote spot.
But what about here in Acadia? Is there any place in Acadia National Park where you can really find solitude? Based on some comments from guests and our distant view of the causeway leading onto the island, people seem to be everywhere. Guests have expressed appreciation for our remoteness at SeaCat’s Rest, but I don’t think they should give up so easily on the park.
Admittedly, you’re always going to have to fight traffic to get to the remote places, but there are quite a few. Most folks, when they come to the island hit the top ten spots: Cadillac Mountain, the Park Loop Road, Thunder Hole, Bar Harbor, The Jordan Pond House and so on. So here are my suggestions for avoiding the madding crowd, in no particular order:
- Northeast Creek cranberry bog. Not actually in the park itself, but public land. You need a kayak or canoe. I wrote about it here and here.
- If you want a quiet ocean drive head to the Schoodic Peninsula for a 90% drop in traffic. This is the detached eastern portion of Acadia National Park, off the island and 19 miles east of Ellsworth on Rt. One and then six miles south on Rt. 186. You can also take the ferry from the pier at The Bar Harbor Inn for $29.50 and then rely on the free bus service to get around in Schoodic.
- With a little more planning, get to ANP’s Isle au Haut. You take the ferry from Stonington for $37 round trip. Stonington is worth a trip in itself, as it is a no-nonsense honest-to-gosh fishing village where more lobsters are brought in than anyplace else in Maine. It is also not on the island, requiring an almost two hour drive from Bar Harbor. The planning comes in if you wish to camp on Isle au Haut. Ferry schedule here.
- There are several trails within the park which are much less traveled. As a general rule, the further you get from Bar Harbor, Cadillac Mountain and the shore, the fewer people. Longer trails are also less popular for obvious reasons. This brings us to the west side of Echo Lake, where you can access the Beech Cliff Trail from Beech Mountain Rd. I wrote about it here.
- West of Echo Lake is Long Pond, and west of Long Pond is a network of trails circling Western Mountain. (Note: there are TWO Long Ponds, this is the big one). One of these, the Mansell Mountain Trail is said to be worth the ascent and, “not heavily used. In fact, during our afternoon hike we saw only one other couple on the trail, despite being at the height of the season.” More here.
- If you want an easier hike, and would prefer to walk on one of Acadia’s famous carriage trails, first of all, avoid the super popular Eagle Lake Carriage Trail. Save it for winter, or summer at sunrise. Try instead one of the private carriage trails, like the one near the other Long Pond. Bicycles are not allowed, and traffic is light. This trail network can be accessed off Rt. 3 just 1.8 miles east of the intersection where Rt 3 joins Rt 198 in Northeast Harbor. The day we went it was one of the few trails where there was lots of room in the parking lot. We encountered few people.
Finally, realize that by getting out of your car you are already leaving most of the throngs behind. Anyplace on foot is going to be more remote than getting there. The hiking and carriage trails were designed by people who loved this place many decades ago, so you won’t be disappointed, no matter how popular it is. Check out the map of Acadia to reference these places here.