Bar Harbor, Maine and Acadia National Park

August 13-21 2021

It has taken me a long time to write this post but life gets in the way, and in our case its been all good things so I’m not complaining. Picking up where I last left off, we headed north from Cape Cod towards Maine, a state we have never visited and had in our radar for a long time. We were very excited until we hit the Boston area and realized we would have to drive our 40 foot motorhome and tow vehicle through the ”Big Dig” tunnel…. in heavy traffic, not for the faint of heart. But all’s well that ends well and we arrived at our RV Campground in Mount Desert Island, just outside the lovely Town of Bar Harbor and home to Acadia National Park, another bucket list destination.

When I say lovely I really mean breathtaking where Bar Harbor is concerned. Bar Harbor has to be one of the prettiest coastal towns we have seen. We took a quick drive through the town to get ourselves oriented and then immediately headed to Acadia National Park, were our plan was to drive to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point in the park. Cadillac Mountain is one of the most popular destinations in Acadia and requires a timed reservation in order to be allowed on the summit road. Luckily, Leo had made a reservation a few months before, and we were glad we had one, as all times for the week we were there had already been booked, so an on time arrival was critical!

We parked way at the top with easy access to the summit trails which provide panoramic views of Bar Harbor and surrounding islands. Some of the vantage points required a bit of rock scrambling perfectly tailor made for Leo.

Cadillac Mountain is one of the many scenic stops along the 27 mile loop road that winds through Acadia. We loved the colorful rocks that get pounded by the Atlantic Ocean. During our stay the seas were calm and the weather unusually warm, just the way I like it. We took a drive around the park to scope out trail heads and plan our hikes. Acadia is one of the smallest National Parks but heavily visited during the summer months. Parking is a bit of a problem once inside the park so you need to plan an early start, an alternative is to park in one of the visitor centers and ride the hop on and off, free park loop bus.

Our first hike took us to downtown Bar Harbor where a half mile long gravel path to Bar Island is exposed for about one and a half hours before and after peak low tide. We saw this walk in a documentary and found it interesting. After checking the tide tables we arrived in time to not only walk across at a leisurely pace but with enough time to explore Bar Island as well. The gravel path has small tide pools with interesting sea creatures and a huge variety of shells and rocks. It was very crowded and time is of the essence so we made our way towards the island and began our ascend through a forested path to find the summit. Even though the trail is marked, some trail markers are hard to see and we ended up off the trail several times, but quickly backtracked to pick it up again. We had a couple that decided to follow us thinking we knew what we were doing, that was not a good idea, but we made it up to them by going back to our Alltrails app on our phone and finding our way back to the trail. Needless to say we never saw them again, I think they learned their lesson. For our part we were never worried and were able to find the summit where you are afforded gorgeous views of Bar Harbor across the bay. Mindful of the tides, we headed back with plenty of time before the tide change. I didn’t want to spend a night on an unpopulated island when we have such a cozy RV waiting for us.

One of the prettiest hikes in Acadia, in my opinion is the Ocean Path trail which hugs the coast line from Sandy Beach to Otter Point, a 2 mile walk one way. Sandy Beach as the name implies is the only sandy beach in Acadia, the place is usually packed with people, most all of them soaking up the sun on the sand, as swimming is not for the faint of heart, the water temperature, even in August, rarely goes above 55F. Given the crowds, we opted to park our car in the less crowded Otter Point location and hike towards Sandy Beach making it a 4 mile round trip walk. This was the right decision because the views are totally different each way. Along the walk you can see the beautiful pink granite that lines this coast and there are well known stops along the way to delight the senses. One of these is the famous Thunder Hole where as the tide changes the waves crash with a great thundering sound into a narrow granite channel. People line up to see this, but timing is everything so if you are not there at the right time to see the changing tide, the seas will be calm and no thunder. This was unfortunately our case, but ever ready to take advantage of a situation, Leo decided to climb the cliff for a better view. I took pictures from a safe distance.

Our next hike was around Jordan Pond, a glacier carved lake with clear as glass water and surrounded by mountains. The trail loop takes you right by the lake and we had the most beautiful day to enjoy this lovey walk. We started the trail loop in a counter clock wise rotation from the Jordan Pond Lodge. The trail was an easy walk with gorgeous views of the lake. A little over half way there is a bit of rock climbing section but not too bad, I was able to navigate it with a little help from Leo. This is a must do hike maybe next time I will get the scrambling part out of the way first and enjoy a leisurely walk for the last couple of miles. Pictures really don’t do justice to this beautiful place so here are a couple of videos of our walk instead. Enjoy!

I mentioned in a previous blog post that our ebikes where the stars of our trip and nothing was ever so true as here in the Carriage Roads of Acadia. This 51 mile system of gravel roads and granite bridges takes you along spruce and hemlock forests and glacier lakes. This was the brainchild of millionaire-philanthropist J.D. Rockefeller Jr. He created these roads starting in 1913, in what would be a 27 year long project, to be used by horse drawn carriages and to shield the natural beauty of the park from the very new and popular thing called automobiles. Today the roads are used by hikers, runners, cyclists, cross country skiers, horse back riders and of course the beautiful horse drawn carriages that are still stabled and preserved within the park.

We joined this lucky lot with our ebikes for a couple of the rides along these carriage roads taking in different sections of the park and breaking up our rides into several days. Some of the sections were impassible due to resurfacing and construction but a handy map and the sage council of the park rangers helped us navigate our way through the park. We rode along ridges, forests, lakes and even a few beautiful stone bridges for some of the most enjoyable rides of all our bike riding adventures.

Many of the carriage road trail heads start or pass through Jordan Lake Pond Lodge , so we used the lodge grounds to rest or picnic during our bike outings. We intended to brave the long lines and get a table at the lodge’s outdoor cafe to sample the famous Popover pastries but the line wait was just too long and we had miles of bike trails to cover so we settled for our own fare carried in our backpacks. Eventually we found the Jordan Pond popover mix at a local gift-shop on our last day in Bar Harbor which we brought back home along with some tasty Maine blueberry preserve to be enjoyed with our kids. Just delicious!

Downtown Bar Harbor is delightful with many restaurants and small specialty shops. We certainly took advantage of this and had some wonderful meals at the Testa’s Bar and Grill and Stewman’s Lobster Pound where we met up with our friend Barbara who was touring Bar Harbor at the same time. It is always nice to meet up with friends in our travels and to enjoy a proper lobster dinner which was one of my goals on this trip.

On our last day we took a peaceful walk along the shore line of downtown Bar Harbor with beautiful views of the bay and fragrant sea roses that bloom this time of year. Along the path you can also see a giant boulder which is a remnant of the last ice age. This rock has a different makeup than the surrounding rocks and it is not indigenous to this area. It was left here at the end of the last ice age more than 10,000 years ago. Sometimes it takes a while to find the perfect stop.

2 thoughts on “Bar Harbor, Maine and Acadia National Park

  1. Wow- another great adventure. Well done for taking your motor home through Boston. We were there during the Big Dig construction and it was mad. Maine is a very beautiful state and you make me want to revisit it. Hats off to you Lucy for taking on that large lobster I hope it tasted as good as it looked. Thank you for sharing. Stay safe.


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