10 Best Things to do in Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park, Rachel C, Unsplash
The first National Park in the East of the United States, Acadia National Park is abundant in scenic drives, thrilling hiking trails, adventurous campgrounds, and Instagram-worthy views. Things to do when visiting Acadia include hiking, biking, camping, carriage rides, and admiring the park’s many natural features on the drive. Most of the park’s facilities are open from mid-May to mid-October, at the peak in July and August. But the best time is during fall foliage, from late September to mid-October. Plan your tour with the list of 10 best things to do in Acadia National Park.
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The thing that makes Acadia National Park so exciting is its incredible hiking trails. From easy walks along coastal paths to summit trails and exhilarating cliff hikes, every hiker can find something for themselves here.
Beech Mountain and Great Head Trail are suitable options for moderate hikers. The Great Head Trail seems to be the essence of the Maine coastline, and from this height, you can see great views. By forming a 1.1-mile loop, the Beech Mountain trail holds the beautiful scenery of Long Pond, the long and narrow glacial lake in the park.
But, if you are more into challenging hikes, Precipice trail, the Beehive trail, Beech Cliff ladder trail, and Jordan Cliffs trails are best for you. You can enjoy hiking through narrow ledges and climb steep rock walls with the help of metal rungs.
Sunrise at Cadillac Mountain
Apart from being the highest mountain in the park, Cadillac Mountain is also the highest mountain on the East coast. From the top of its round, the bald summit, you can see a panoramic view of Bar Harbor, Frenchman Bay, and a group of pine islands. But the most popular thing to do here is to view the sunrise. Because of its location and height, Cadillac Mountain is the first spot in the country to see the sunrise. The road is open 24 hours a day, and Bald Summit is also a fantastic place to observe meteors in mid-August.
Acadia National Park is one of the excellent places for camping in the United States. There are 3 campgrounds in the National Park, and the Seawall is located on Loop Road, just south of Southwest Harbor. It is ideal for campers, even with families. The spacious wooded spaces are suitable for tents, and RVs can be carried up to 35 feet long. All the campsites are within a 10-minute walk of the shore. There are also several hiking trails on this side of the island.
Located a few miles south of Bar Harbor, Blackwood Campground is larger than the Seawall and tends to be more crowded. All of its campsites can be booked six months in advance, so there is little chance of finding a campsite without a reservation during the peak season. All the campsites are in the forest, but well separated and facilities included. None are more than a 10-minute walk from the ocean, and some can accommodate RVs.
The third one, Schoodic Woods Campground, is on Schoodic Peninsula, where RVs are permitted only.
Kayaking, canoeing, and sailing
Acadia has numerous options for paddle sports and sailings. From Bar Harbor, you can take a guided eco-kayak tour on the more remote west side of the island, where wildlife traces are frequent. A 4-hour guided wildlife tour from Southwest Harbor will take you to West Bay, Blue Mountain Bay, and Somes Sound, stopping at remote beaches. Shorter cruises are highly protected, designed for families with children under 8 years of age. For leisurely paddling in freshwater, you can rent canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards at Long Pond in Somesville. You can find places to put your kayaks on the lakes throughout the park. Mansell Boat Rentals offers sailboat and motorboat rentals and sailing lessons at the southern entrance to Somes Sound in Southwest Harbor.
The carriage road was built between 1913 and 1940 by John D. Rockfeller Jr. and is now very popular for walking, cycling, horse riding, and carriage rides. It dates back to the pre-air-conditioning era when Acadia was a place where wealthy families sought to escape the city’s heat. This historic road is open for all and a great place to watch songbirds.
Drive Park Loop Road
The main road through the park is the best way to fully explore its landscapes, sights, and natural wonders. There are plenty of Instagram-worthy stops along the 27-mile route, though traffic at these locations is usually heavy in the summer. The highlights of the coastal part of the route are Big Head, the beach, Thunder Hole, the Otter Point, and Otter Cliffs. Some routes are one-way, so you should plan to drive through clockwise.
One of the most spectacular places in Acadia National Park is Thunder Hole, where a small cave is formed below the water surface. When the waves hit the rocks, they made a thunderous sound. When the surf is high, the spray can be high up to 40 feet. Thunder Hole is located between Great Head and Otter Cliffs and in the most picturesque part of the Acadia coast.
Jordan Pond House
In its inception, when guests used to arrive by carriages, Jordan Pond House had served afternoon tea and popovers on the lawn overlooking Jordan Pond and the rounded mountains known as The Bubbles. A fire in 1979 destroyed the original building. Although the new building may lack history, the Jordan pond experience remains one of Arcadia’s most popular summer traditions. So, you are more likely to wait a long time if you arrive between 11.30 am – 4.00 pm without reservation.
Visit Schoodic Point
Schoodic Point is the best place to watch the surf pounding on the rocky coastline and the perfect time to visit is when the seas are rough. There are several opportunities to do short hikes like Sundrew trail and Schoodic Head trails.
Explore Bar Harbor
Bar Harbor is a beautiful little town that is the best place for accommodation, eating, and shopping during your stay in the park. You can spend your evening here having dinner and watching a movie at Reel Pizza Cinerama.
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