Blagden Preserve on Mount Desert Island

This is part of my compilation of the secret, little-known parts of the island where visitors can escape the crowds. By all means, make sure to read about my top ten things to do in Acadia. But if these activities are on everyone else’s list you may be ready for someplace more remote. Blagden Preserve is such a place. Also, it serves as a reminder that not all that’s wild and beautiful on the island belongs to Acadia National Park.

Blagden Preserve is owned by the Nature Conservancy and was donated in 1968 by summer residents Donald and Zelina Blagden. It consists of 110.6 acres of mature red spruce, white cedar, and balsam fir. This area of the island, in the northwest corner near the causeway, escaped the devastating fire of 1947. The prevailing winds off the ocean keep the forest floor moss-covered in contrast to dryer parts of the interior. The land slopes gently down to the shore, accessible by a well maintained trail.

Snow white lichens share the floor with sphagnum.

The area has taller trees than most of the island.  In fact, a line of old oaks stand at the entrance. Don’t miss the plaque on the biggest, which relates that they were planted on the day of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865, making them 148 years old! The old spruce trees along the Big Wood Trail are falling frequently from age and are allowed to lie where they fall. The trail, while cleared of obstructing timber, is rocky and in some spots a bit of a climb, so good shoes are needed. Listen for the haunting call of the wood thrush. The trail is 1.2 miles long and it takes less than an hour to get to the shore. There is over 1000 feet of rocky shore from which to view eagles, osprey and seals. The return trip to the parking area can be made up Higgins Farm Road for variety and speed.

Other trails in Acadia may be grander and more popular but Blagden Preserve has most of what you come to the coast of Maine for: a chance to be alone in nature (I encountered two people in two hours on August 11), cool ocean breezes, abundant wildlife and clean air. In addition, if you stay off island (like here for example) this spot is pretty close to the bridge and the route breaks off soon from the heavy traffic. Just take the right fork after the bridge, travel for 1.9 miles and take a right onto Indian Point Road. Drive 1.7 miles where you bear right for another .2 miles and look for the sign pictured above. Blagden Preserve also shows up on google maps and your GPS. At the entrance pick up a map and go hike!

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Finding Remote Acadia

My best guess based on the article. Google maps.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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Acadia’s Top Ten Things to Do

Bar Harbor from the Cadillac summit

Vacation season is almost here! The sunny weather and warm late winter temperatures remind us that Acadia adventure awaits. This is one of those posts I’ve been meaning to write for a long time since it is an attempt to answer the question I hear most often from our guests here at SeaCat’s Rest.  I will try to list the Top Ten in reverse priority (#10 first) and give alternatives when possible. Some choices are weather-related and so should be shuffled in the priority as necessary.

10.  A visit off island. It’s important to see the “real” Maine, away from the remarkable beauty of Mt. Desert Island. Two of my recommended off-island trips are to Stonington on Deer Isle (1-1/2 hours, 58 miles), a real fishing village and former granite quarry. Stonington is Maine’s most valuable lobster fishing port. The 2010 lobster landings figure released by the DMR for Stonington is 13,785,437 pounds of lobster valued at $44,259,982.  Also, see Kathleen’s post about the Settlement Quarry and the Crockett Cove Woods. The second choice is Castine (1-1/2 hours, 53 miles). Castine is great for history buffs. You can see remains of old Fort George built by the Brits. Castine is interesting because it was claimed at various time by the  French, British, Dutch and finally the Americans. There is also a lighthouse and the Mane Maritime Academy.

9.   Shopping, Brewery, Museums. I would love to claim we have perfect weather in the summer, but if you find the outdoors soggy, you should have some indoor options. Go here to see museums associated with College of the Atlantic. Try the Abbe Museum, 26 Mt. Desert, open 10 AM to 4 PM, Thursday to Saturday from late May through early November for Maine’s Native American story.  Southwest Harbor’s Oceanarium is a hit with kids.  A brewery tour is on tap at Atlantic Brewing at Town Hill while shopping is always an option in downtown Bar Harbor.

8.   Beach Time. Finding a place to stretch out in the sand or swim is not that easy on the rocky shore. There are two great options. The first is Sand Beach, the first  stop on the Park Loop Road after the pay gate  ($20 per week per vehicle). This is on the ocean so taking a dip may involve pain. For a warmer option try Echo Lake Beach on Rt. 102 just north of Southwest Harbor. This is a great place for kids. For a walk on a stony ocean shore, try Seawall, on Rt 102A just south of Southwest Harbor.

7.   Explore Anenome Cave. This is a little known place and you need me to tell  you where it is.  It is also a little dangerous; the rocks are slippery and it is possible to get trapped in the cave if the tide is on the move or the waves are high. Visit at low tide in calm seas. Drive to the Schooner Head parking lot, the last stop before the pay gate on the Park Loop Road.  The trail will lead to the shore and the cave is ten minutes or so away along the shore (follow the shore south, to the right). Inside are tide pools with pink anenomes and other interesting sea creatures and plants, some which seem to be adapted to low light conditions. Please be gentle with this fragile and rare environment. There’s a reason it is not a popular spot.

6. Dinner at a Lobster Pound. Our two favorites are at Beal’s Pier at the end of Clark Point Rd in Southwest Harbor and Abel’s Lobster Pound on Abel’s Lane off Rt. 198 on the way to Northeast Harbor at the top of Somes Sound.   Any place can boil a lobster. What you want is the real Maine experience that goes with it. Don’t expect elegance. An occasional whiff of bait may be in the air, but the views are awesome.

5.  Hike, hike, hike. You need to work off the lobster, right? What better place than Acadia National Park. There are so many to choose from and the right one can be found for all fitness levels. Try to pick one with a mountain top like Bubble Rock so you can be rewarded with a stunning view. South Bubble is pretty easy (400 feet). Read about hiking preparations here.

4.  Get out on the water! This can range a bit in expense. At the low end you can borrow our kayaks when you stay at SeaCat’s Rest. Our water is fairly protected, at the sheltered end of Frenchman Bay. There are also guided kayak trips leaving from Bar Harbor. If I were to recommend a more expensive outing I would include a whale watch trip. You will see a fair amount of open ocean and be rewarded with a close encounter with ocean leviathans! For even more options go here.

3.  Luncheon at Jordan Pond House. This is just mandatory, that’s all there is to it.  Read all about it here.

2. Bike, walk or (horseback) ride the carriage trails. This is the Rockefeller family’s  gift to America representing an ideal of pre-automobile road and stone craft set in the beauty of Acadia. Don’t miss it. More here.

1. Drive the Park Loop Road and to the top of Cadillac Mountain. This is how most people start their trip here and it is a good way. Pick a clear day for the Cadillac summit and take your camera. Don’t forget the free Island Explorer bus which can take you just about anywhere. Try to time your Thunder Hole visit to middle to high tide and good waves are a plus. This is a good time to buy your week-long park pass.

Thunder Hole on the Park Loop Road

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The Beech Cliff Trail at ANP

Guests of SeaCat’s Rest, our affordable Acadia lodgings, often ask what the best trails are in Acadia National Park, and I am called upon to recite pros and cons about the dozens (hundreds?) of trails available. So from time to time I write about one so that guests can find better info from this website instead of my fallible memory.

Guidebooks will often lead with the most popular trails and at some times of the year these trails may be a bit too crowded. The Beech Cliff Trail is off-the-beaten-track enough to almost guarantee an uncrowded experience. An instant measure is how full the parking lot is. If a trail lot is so filled with vehicles they are spilling out onto the roadside, you may wish to keep looking. It is no accident they call the west side of the island the “quiet side”. This is where the Beech Cliff Trail is.

Fomitopsis sp., growing on spruce

There are actually two ways to get to this trail. One starts at the Echo Lake beach lot at the bottom of Echo Lake just before Southwest Harbor on Route 102. This option involves a very vertical ascent and narrow cliff-edge trail suitable only for a mountain goat. This section is also known as the Beech Cliff Ladder Trail. Instead I would advise option two, entered from the other side of the ridge. Rather than driving to the bottom of Echo Lake, find Beech Hill Rd., just at the south end of Somesville. Turn right (west, assuming you are going south on 102) and when possible take left turns until you find yourself at the trailhead lot, about 2 miles from Somesville.

The first half of this short (.6 mile) trail winds through spruce woods but gradually becomes steeper and a bit more challenging. Finally you emerge at the cliff edge where you see Echo Lake and the ocean beyond. I hope you brought your camera!

Many times I’ve walked the trails of Acadia National Park wondering whether the trail I was on was worth the effort, or just a random cut through the woods, perhaps following an old deer trail. Then I emerge on a waterfall, panorama or other breathtaking vista and I remember that this area was loved and trekked by America’s first generation of  “rusticators” who felt that it needed to be protected and preserved for all. Most trails in Acadia are like this, works of natural art discovered 100 years ago and handed down to us intact.

The Beech Cliff Trail is often closed in the early summer because it is a nesting site for endangered peregrine falcons. To find out if the trail is closed call 288-3338 or go to www.nps.gov/acad.

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A Frugal Vacation in Acadia National Park

The economy today makes  folks with a job begin to think of how they might save some money on this year’s vacation.   Those with downsized or part time jobs might want to think of vacations closer to home.   Either situation might make a vacation in Maine just right for you.  People in Maine are very careful with their money.     That means if you know where to look, you too can save much money.

Acadia’s bare granite, rounded and gouged by glaciers

There are lots of things to do here that are free or low cost.

Start with muscle-powered sports.   Hiking and walking have the dual benefit of exercise and enjoyment in and around Bar Harbor and Acadia.   The carriage trails were designed for horses, but that means they are smooth and excellent walking paths.   There are no automobiles, only bicycles, an occasional horse drawn carriage or rider on horseback and other people on the path.     The most popular path is around Eagle lake.   However, one of my favorite walks is closer to Northeast Harbor.   Park at the Upper Hadlock Pond Parking area and cross the road.   Here is a link to the map of the carriage trails.

Take advantage of the free ranger lead talks and walks.   From the visitor center you can get the schedule of talks.   Be sure and arrive a bit early, because there can be quite a crowd that gathers in July and August.   Here are descriptions of one such walk.

Otter Point Walk (2 hours; easy to moderate 2-mile hike) Daily, Tue in French. Discover stories of history and nature along the strikingly scenic Ocean Path. Gorham Mountain parking area – Park Loop Road south of Thunder Hole.or join the night sky program or the Acadia at night program, where you learn to see like the nighttime animals do.   This link to the website has the schedules.    Some programs like the sailing adventures have a cost associated with them, but the majority are free.

This area that we live in has the best of both the sea and the woods for you to enjoy in one package.  You can combine camping out and  staying at a vacation home  here at Sea Cat’s Rest.    Our rental comes with kayaks included!  If your looking for a bargain yet this year, look about 10 miles away from Mount Desert Island.   The rates are lower, and you only spend about 10 minutes more in the car.   The town names to search for are: Lamoine, Trenton, Hancock and Surry.

Bring your own bicycle and you now have doubled the distance you can go with just a twirl of your pedals.   Bicycling is actually the most efficient way to get from point A to point B, plus you can put your bike right on those Island Explorer buses when you don’t want to bike uphill.

Like to read?   Don’t forget our small local libraries.   Read the local paper for free, read Downeast Magazine for free at the library in Ellsworth.   Read a local book, get internet access free at the library in the middle of the day.  Libraries on the island are many, and I will feature them in a future blog.   I especially like the Southwest Harbor Library, right across from the school.    You can cool off on the occasional hot day by spending an hour or two in the comfy reading rooms – and all of our libraries have internet access free – free wifi or on their computers.   Places in Ellsworth that offer free internet include the local coffeeshop The Maine Grind on Main Street, the library and MacDonalds.   In addition our town office here in Lamoine is a free WiFi spot.   Our house of course has free internet for our guests too.

SAVE MORE ON MEALS – cook for yourself.   By staying in a house instead of hotel, you can cook your own great meals, perhaps treating yourself to one or two days of great fresh seafood from cold Maine waters.   We can’t think of anything better than watching the lobster boats out in front of our place, and then enjoying lobsters from your own pot for dinner.   At different times in the year you can  pick the fruit that is in season: blueberries, strawberries and apples.   If you are our guest, we share our garden bounty with our renters.   See our wild food blog for some other tasty treats.

Also for the frugal, coordinate your visit with music and art festivals.  Bar Harbor Brass Week offers free concerts at the park in Bar Harbor, or wander the free art fairs in the summer.     The Belfast Maine Celtic Festival on July 17-18 and the Bangor American Folk Festival August 27,28,29, (free – but donate what you can afford)  and The North Atlantic Blues  Festival July 10th, 11th in Rockland are some of those in our area.

Didn’t bring the right clothes to wear?  It’s cool here, cooler than most places   If you forgot that fact, you can pick up some bargains at the resale shops in the area.   Jalysa’s attic in Ellsworth on Water Street or our new Goodwill Store in Ellsworth both offer fleece jackets at under $10.00 for those colder than they expected.   Need more long pants?  They are there too.  You can also find Maine themed clothing there if you are lucky.   We locals often purchase Maine themed clothing when it is on sale in the fall, and we recycle the clothes when they get too small or we don’t find ourselves needing them any longer.

Go with a larger group.   Find a friend to stay with on the way.   Vacation where you can stay with relatives.    Going with a larger group, you can go in on lodgings and food.   It’s often cheaper to rent a larger house, and vacation with another family or group of friends.   Instead of having to bring along a friend for our daughter, we brought along another family, so that the kids had someone to do stuff with – and we had adults to hang around with.   Have Grandma and Grandpa take the grand kids (along with you) on vacation.   They are bound to help out with treats and special adventures (plus you get to share the childcare and get off by yourself for a while).    Borrow items you need for the trip.   Perhaps you can borrow bicycles, or some camping equipment instead of purchasing new items.

Trade adventures, if you live in a nice place for others to vacation, perhaps you can exchange visits with old friends.   Have friends living in New York while you’re out in the country, perhaps you can each visit each others’ destinations for a bargain vacation for both of you.

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Why Visit Acadia National Park?

In continuation of my Top Ten series I’d like to list the top ten reasons to visit Acadia National Park this year. You may have many destinations to consider for your vacation; it’s a big world out there.

Bar Harbor from the top of Cadillac Mountain

  1. It’s beautiful. There’s not much more I can add except to suggest watching the Jack Perkins video here. Otherwise, I’d use up all the space for this post just on this one topic. This video is the real deal, it really looks like that here.
  2. Escape the heat. I put this toward the top because so many visitors come here for this reason. Even parts of the country nearby are much hotter in summer. This is because Mount Desert Island sticks out into the North Atlantic and is bathed in a cool ocean breeze throughout the summer. Imagine going to another park and not wanting to get out of your air-conditioned car. If you want to see the raw data, go here.
  3. Affordability. Travel+Leisure Magazine rated our island at #1 for best island to visit in North America, and one of their 5 criteria was value. Accommodations are reasonable (especially here in Lamoine), activities are free or nearly so and restaurants are affordable.
  4. Leave your car behind. The park is committed to reducing vehicular traffic and has a free shuttle bus service making it possible to get anywhere at almost anytime without a car. Also, the park’s 40+ miles of carriage paths are ideal for bicycling. Remember, you won’t need the car for air-conditioning, so why not give it a rest?
  5. Nice people. Ever been to a travel destination where if you lay down your camera and look away it will be gone? Maine has the fourth lowest property crime rate in the country. Our folks are pleasant and helpful and our low-stress lifestyle makes them that way.
  6. Get out on the water. Maine has a lot of shoreline, 3478 miles of it (more than California)  and you are missing out is you don’t enjoy it. Take the mail boat to Cranberry Island, rent a kayak or go out for a sail. See the seals and porpoises, puffins or blue whales. It’s all here on Mount Desert Island.
  7. Exercise. While it’s possible to have a great visit to Acadia National Park without taking a hike, it is especially suited for physical activity. Even Martha Stewart wrote an article about it. Bicycling, horseback riding and kayaking are all available. Our breezy cool climate makes exercise a joy.
  8. Culture and history. Acadia was the original vacation destination on the east coast and interesting people have been visiting and living here for centuries. Local museums cover the natural history and Native Americans, and guided walks feature the neighborhoods of wealthy summer residents. There’s a lot to learn about our history, so it’s best to read up before you come.
  9. Andrew Zimmern from discovery.com

    Seafood. How could we forget? Maine lobster is know the world over and this is the place to eat it. But there’s lots more: crab, clams, scallops, mussels, haddock, mackerel and shrimp. You can buy it fresh, have it at a restaurant or in some cases, harvest it yourself.

  10. Nearness. Most folks considering a trip to Maine know that we are close to Boston (5 hours by car) and NY City (8-1/2 hours).  If you live on the east coast you will be within one or two day’s drive. If you are in Canada you will find us right on the way to Atlantic Canada from Montreal or Toronto. The Bangor International Airport, an hour away, has  non-stop flight to Detroit, Philadelphia, New York and Boston.

So when you decide about where to go this summer, keep this list handy and use it to compare with other places. We think we stack up pretty good. If you want some ideas about what to do when you get here, visit my Top Ten Things To Do In Acadia.

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Time to Reserve Your Acadia Spot!

Whether or not you choose to stay at SeaCat’s Rest, if you are planning on booking a vacation rental house through Homeaway, vacationrentals411 or one of the other sites, now is a good time to start thinking about finding that perfect spot for your Maine vacation. Calendars will start to fill up fast, and I have the feeling that there will be quite a demand this summer. By February the reservations will be flowing in and your free weeks may not match with our free weeks, and you’ll be stuck with a hotel. My prediction about next summer’s popularity has to do with a trend I saw in the summer of 2010. The presidential visit, end-of-season numbers up 19% (park visits) and our own business holding steady throughout the downturn leads me to think that recent improvements in the economy will be felt in greater bookings in the Bar Harbor/Acadia area.

Then there’s the weather. I don’t know if we’ll have another blistering summer (elsewhere), but here along the coast it’s lots cooler and that ocean breeze blowing over that 50-60 degree water means you can always find a cool spot. No one likes to keep cooped up in air conditioning on vacation; here in Downeast Maine you can bet on spending time outdoors–but take your rain coat just in case.

Food-filled ocean currents and cooler temps means lots of happy wildlife to see. Our wrinkled coastline means finding that patch of lonely shore is no problem. Climbing mountains or riding bikes on carriage paths will whet your appetite for a lobster dinner at one of our pounds or restaurants. Seek out the perfect photographic opportunity or boating adventure. I’ve written about these activities in these pages, but reading about them is not as fun as doing them!

Don’t think that because there are quite a few rich and famous who summer here that prices are out of reach. Acadia National Park and environs remain one of the more modest vacations you can take. Why? Because most of the people who live here take a good part of their pay in beauty, sacrificing higher pay for a cleaner environment with less noise, crime and stress. Bargains abound. You may have to move a little away from Martha’s part of Acadia to find the affordable places, but they are there. And don’t worry about being nickle-and dimed at every turn. it’s not like that here. So what are you waiting for?

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Martha Stewart’s Maine

Since 1997 those of us in the Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island area have known that Martha Stewart lives nearby, and that she is likely to pop up at any time. She has a 35,000 square foot house in Seal Harbor once owned by Edsel Ford called Skylands. Anyone can walk around her upscale neighborhood and enjoy the mix of extraordinary vistas and fancy homes, as long as they respect the residents’ vigorously enforced privacy. I described one of these walks in a post on 7/29/2010 called A Walk Among the Wealthy.

In 2009 Martha wrote a short article in The Bangor Daily News in which she describes her passion for Acadia National Park and talks about her favorite hikes. The Ladder,  Beehive, Precipice, Dorr Mountain, Great Head, Hunters Beach and Pemetic are nearby trails she recommends. She even presents a list of her top ten hiking tips (somewhat abbreviated here):

  1. Use a guide book
  2. Check the weather
  3. Dress right; shoes, layers.
  4. Bring a backpack with first aid, a compass, map, tissues, water, rain gear and flashlight.
  5. Wear sunblock

    Great Head Trail. Note the blue trail marker stripe on the rock

  6. Bring a cellphone
  7. Obey the rules; stay on the trail
  8. Carry a camera
  9. Bring a snack on longer hikes, and
  10. Don’t bring a dog unless appropriate

Martha has always had a mixed reputation, people love to criticize the wealthy and famous, especially ambitious women. There are plenty of rumors and stories about her in the area, sometimes revealing her attitudes of arrogance and privilege, but I don’t know if any of them are true and I don’t imagine any of us would behave any differently if we were in her shoes.  I met her once in 2004, she asked me for directions. I didn’t immediately know who she was, only that she looked familiar. She seemed pretty normal; normal clothes, ordinary car and she was driving herself.  No wonder I didn’t recognize her as the billionaire Domestic Diva.

She has been known to auction off tours of Skylands for charity, so it’s unlikely that you or I will ever tour the house for free. Fortunately Martha has allowed us a virtual tour at her website. Better yet, check out Oprah’s video of Skylands. Hey, maybe Oprah will move up here too!

Skylands entrance, from http://www.themarthablog.com

The town of Mount Desert benefits from its clutch of wealthy residents. For the most part they’re only here for the summer and their property taxes pay for the highest-per-student expenditure in the county, perhaps in Maine. Their local philanthropy supports many things enjoyed by both residents and visitors, so we want to make sure they continue to find Northeast Harbor and Bar Harbor welcoming.

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Hiking Acadia National Park – the East Side of MDI

The second in a series of articles featuring various hikes.    Let me start by saying that all of these hikes will be able to be completed 2-3 hours.   Acadia Park while large, is not a place where you can walk on one adventure for days and days.   There are plenty of places in New England, specifically the Long Trail in Vermont or the Appalachian Trail which starts in Georgia and ends in Maine.    However, that doesn’t mean that these hikes here in Acadia are not great adventures and worth your time.

These are easy day hikes.  This means you won’t find any strenuous cliff climbs in this article.   Most of these hikes are suitable for families with young children, but some are moderately difficult hikes bringing you to grand mountaintop vistas.

People have been hiking through Acadia’s paths for hundreds of years.

I also want to make sure to mention the zero impact rule right from the beginning.   Going into a wild area is like visiting a famous museum.   You obviously do not want to leave your mark on an art treasure in the museum.    Please pack out all garbage and trash.   Human waste must be disposed of carefully or it becomes a health hazard.   Use restroom facilities at trailheads or along the trail.   Stay on the trail.   Do not cut switchbacks or take short cuts.  Do not feed wild animals, never pick flowers or gather plants or insects.   Keep your impact to a minimum by taking only pictures and leaving only footprints.  Also play it safe   you should be prepared for any weather and trail conditions you may encounter.

Water – hikers generally need 1 or more quarts per person on these day hikes, depending on weather.   Do not count on finding water on any hike.  Sun – to protect yourself, wear protective clothing and especially a sun hat.   Always tell a reliable person your hiking plans, especially if you are hiking in more remote areas.   Check in upon your return.   Leave a plan in your car as a last resort.   dress in layers, do not hike alone.

Bar Harbor, Cadillac and Champlain Mountains area   This hiking area is one for photographers.   I’m sure you will see boats going by, sail and lobster boats around great head.   Bar Harbor has lots of photo opportunities.

Bar Island Trail.   This low tide walk is about 1.5 miles.   From the end of West street, you have about 1.5 hours either side of low tide to cross to Bar Island.   Once on the island you can hike about a miles or so, northeast up the gravel road behind the gate.   Once there the trail levels off at a grassy field.   after aother half mile, bear left at a trail sign, pointing into the woods toward Bar Island summit.   Retrace your steps to get back.

Beachcroft trail Stone steps lead much of the way.   2.4 miles long.   From downtown Bar Harbor, head south on Maine 3 for about 2 miles to the parks Sieur de Monts entrance.   Continue past the entrance for about 0.2 miles to the parking lot just north of the Tarn.   The trailhead is on the left (east) side of the road.

Bear Brook Trail is a 2.2 miles hike to the summit and back, or 5.2 miles to the trail’s end and back.  enter the park at the Sieur de Monts entrance, Turn right (south) on the one-way Park Loop Road.   The trailhead is 0.8 miles from the entrance on the right, (south) after the Bear Brook picnic area.

Jesup Path (Great Meadow Loop) 2 miles.   This woods and field walk takes you by the Great Meadow, Sieur de Monts Spring, the Wild Gardens of Acadia, the nature centre, Abbe Museum and the Tarn.   From the Park Loop Road, turn at the sign for Sand Beach.   Follow the one-way road for 1.7 miles to the trailhead which is on the right (south) soon after a road comes in on the left.

Sand Beach and Great Head Trail 1.4 miles  From the park loop road, turn left at the sign for Sand Beach.   Follow the Park loop road for 5.5 miles to the beach parking area.   The trailhead is down the stairs and on the far eastern end of the beach.   There is water and restroom facilities at the beach parking lot.    After climbing up keep right along the shore.  Because this trail is two interconnected loops, you can choose an easy hike along the east shore, or a more intense rock trail (pictured) up and over the top of the peninsula.

Ocean Path: 4 miles.   From sand beach parking, The trailhead is just before the stairs to the beach on the right.   This path goes by Thunder Hole, past the  Gorham Mountain trailhead, to Otter cliff and Otter point, then back again.

The Bowl Trail. This hike leads to a mountain pond nestled behind the Beehive.   1.6 miles.   the trailhead is across the park loop road from the beach.

Gorham Mountain Trail 3 miles    This hike features views of Great Head, Sand Beach, Otter Cliff, Champlain Mountain and the Beehive.   The start of the trail is on the right (west) side of the one-way park loop road.   No facilities.

Filed under Acadia National Park, Hikes, Nature, Things To Do by on .


Easy Hikes – in the Middle of Mount Desert Island

This is the first in a series of articles featuring various hikes.  Let me start by saying that all of these hikes will be able to be completed in one morning or afternoon.   Acadia Park while large, is not a place where you can walk on one adventure for days and days.   There are plenty of places in New England, specifically the Long Trail in Vermont or the Appalachian Trail which starts in Georgia and ends in Maine if you want a multi-day experience.

First the facts:  There are 120 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads throughout Acadia National Park.   The park itself is about 40,000 acres.    Most of these hikes are easy and suitable for families with young children, but some are moderately difficult hikes bringing you to grand mountaintop vistas.

People have been hiking through Acadia’s paths for hundreds of years.  On the map the white dashed lines are walking trails.   The red lines roads and the yellow lines are carriage trails.   Of course the carriage trails are exceptional walking paths too, so don’t ignore them as a great way to link up the hiking trails with where you want to be.   One of my favorite walks combines the carriage trails on the way up and the hiking path on the way down. 

I also want to make sure to mention the zero impact rule right from the beginning.   Going into a wild area is like visiting a famous museum.   You obviously do not want to leave your mark on an art treasure in the museum.    Please pack out all garbage and trash.   Human waste must be disposed of carefully or it becomes a health hazard.   Use restroom facilities at trailheads or along the trail.   Stay on the trail.   Do not cut switchbacks or take short cuts.  Do not feed wild animals, never pick flowers or gather plants or insects.   Keep your impact to a minimum by taking only pictures and leaving only footprints.  Also play it safe,  you should be prepared for any weather and trail conditions you may encounter.

Water – hikers generally need 1 or more quarts per person on these day hikes, depending on weather.   Do not count on finding water on any hike.  Sun; to protect yourself, wear protective clothing and especially a sun hat.   Always tell a reliable person your hiking plans, especially if you are hiking in more remote areas.   Check in upon your return.   Leave a plan in your car as a last resort.   Dress in layers, do not hike alone.

I start with these hikes for two reasons.   First they are my favorites for the overall view that you get at the top.   They get you to the wild part of the park, and while you will not be alone, you also will be miles away from civilization type things like stores, shopping.       Second, these are nice for any age group.    It will help you judge whether you need to stick with this kind of hike for a while, or if you can advance to some of the more challenging hikes in the park.     The Acadia bus system can get you to these hikes easily.   Parking at Jordan Pond house can be a challenge in the middle of summer, so plan on the bus.

Jordan Pond, Bubbles and Eagle Lake Area

0.5 miles Jordan Pond Shore Trail A nice level walk around the shore-line.   There are wooden paths, so even little ones under 5 years old are okay on this walk.   Wonderful short walk with bathroom and water and the Pond house.   The photo to the right is of this trail.   You can combine this route with the bubbles walk for a nice combination.

1.3 miles Bubble rock Trail.  This is a favorite, a challenge in terms of vertical height, but not very long.   You can choose either the North or South Bubble extensions.   Both have beautiful camera opportunities at the top.   The South Bubble features the balancing rock, a large truck sized rock just sitting at the top of the hill.   How did it get there?   A large sheet of ice pushed it into position.

3.6 miles Eagle Lake Trail.   Great for a little further walk, has two hills, this is entirely on carriage trails so you will share your walk with bikes and quite a few other folks.   One of the most popular places in the park to bike and hike.    Hills surround this beautiful lake.   It’s a drinking supply for Bar Harbor, so no swimming or motors allowed on this water.

1.6 Day Mountain trail  Good things come in small packages, as this little hike proves. Day Mountain is only 583 feet in elevation and a mere 0.5 mile from the trailhead, but it provides close-up views of the Cranberry Isles.

All of these hikes can be completed in 2 hours, or perhaps 3 hours if you linger at the top.   Don’t forget your camera as there are great opportunities for vacation photos.   If you stay at our place, you are welcome to borrow our guides.   There are some good guides available for purchase in Bar Harbor also, try Sherman’s Bookstore for starters.

Filed under Acadia National Park, Day trips, Hikes, on island by on .