One Day in Acadia
Thank you to Matt Losquadro at the Saltair Inn for sharing this guide.
Born from the vision and generosity of several famous benefactors, Acadia National Park consists of 47,000 acres of the most beautiful landscape in the world. To think you can "do the park" in one day is a bit ambitious. But if one day is all you have, the highlighted route on the adjacent map will introduce you to some of the most inspiring parts of Acadia.
If you never get out of your car, you could drive this route in about three hours. Most of our guests prefer a more relaxed pace, usually enjoying this drive for about six to eight hours. If you have more than one day, this drive might help you decide where to spend the rest of your time here on Mount Desert Island.
This is a great place to start if you have never been to Acadia National Park. There is a 15 minute orientation video and informative brochures about various park activities. It is open mid-April through the end of October. Park Headquarters, located on Eagle Lake Road (Rt. 233) three miles west of Bar Harbor, is open during the off-season.
Sieur de Monts Spring:
Home to the Acadia Nature Center and the Wild Gardens of Acadia, Sieur de Monts Spring is a wonderful place for garden lovers and bird watchers.
Schooner Head Overlook:
Beautiful panoramic views of Egg Rock Island, Ironbound Island and Schoodic Peninsula across Frenchman Bay. A paved trail leads down to the rocky shore and to the Anemone Cave, which can be cautiously entered at low tide. Please tread lightly as this environment is very fragile.
Beehive is one of Acadia's four strenuous “ladder hikes” that require ascending steep sections of granite with the aid of iron climbing rungs drilled into the ledge. Return from the summit via the Bowl, a sparkling glacial pond on the back side of the mountain.
This is a beautiful beach flanked by rocky coastline on either end. The sand is actually comprised mainly of pulverized shells, and the water is cold, rarely reaching temperatures above 55 degrees.
Great Head Trail:
On the easy side of moderate, this hike leads from the end of Sand Beach to the 145-foot summit and a bounty of beautiful pink granite. You can carefully make your way down the ledge to explore the tidepools and get a close look at the waves crashing on the rocky coast. (Slippery when wet!)
A narrow inlet in the granite coast leads to a small underwater cavern here. At a certain time of day (usually about 1-1/2 hours before high tide) and when the weather conditions are just right, the air in the cavern is displaced by the waves rushing in with the tide. A thunderous “boom” accompanies an explosion of water back toward the ocean, sometimes reaching as high as forty feet in the air.
Rising 110 feet out of the Atlantic Ocean is Otter Cliff, one of the most magnificent venues in Acadia National Park. Views from the Park Loop Road at the top of Otter Cliff are of the ocean and the distant horizon. Views of the cliff can also be enjoyed from several points along the Park Loop Road and adjacent Ocean Trail south of Sand Beach.
This walk is classic Acadia – rocky coast, scented pines, and powerful surf. About two miles in length, it extends from the south end of the upper parking lot at Sand Beach, past Thunder Hole and Monument Cove, to the towering point of Otter Cliff. If you take one walk in Acadia, walk the Ocean Trail.
Jordan Pond House:
Tea and popovers at Jordan Pond House has been a tradition for over a hundred years. Lunch and dinner are also served mid-May to mid-October. A beautiful 3-mile trail takes you around the perimeter of Jordan Pond.
Previously a summer hideout for the inconspicuous wealth of the Rockefellers, Astors and Fords, the modern-day affluence of Northeast Harbor has crept onto Main Street in the form of pricey art galleries and high-end shops. Following a walk through town, head for the roads skirting the perimeter of town and eventually to Sargent Drive.
Were it not for the presence of the Park Loop Road, Sargent Drive would be the prettiest road on Mount Desert Island. Sargent Drive flanks the eastern shore of Somes Sound, often described as the only fjord on the Atlantic coast of the United States, although it apparently lacks some of the properties of a true fjord coast like that of Norway.
The first village established on Mount Desert Island in 1761, Somesville is the epitome of quaint. A few attractions in Somesville include the Port in a Storm Bookstore, a frequently photographed white arched footbridge next to the Mount Desert Island Historical Society, and Sound School House Museum.
Smaller than Bar Harbor, but the largest village on the western side of the island, Southwest Harbor makes a nice base camp for exploring the “quiet side” of MDI.
Established in 1928 as the Manset Boat Yard, Hinckley Yachts is a ship lover’s paradise. Stroll the yard and admire some of the custom crafts in dry-dock, or moored in the bay. There are no guided tours, but visitors are invited to check in at the main sales office at 130 Shore Road for information and to browse the Ship Store.
Ship Harbor Trail:
A pleasant walk on the way to Bass Harbor, the Ship Harbor Trail will take you through the woods and over a beautiful granite shelf along the ocean's edge.
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse:
Guarding the entrance to Bass Harbor and Blue Hill Bay, the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse was constructed in 1858 and automated in 1974. Walk down the light-keeper’s driveway at the right end of the parking lot to learn more about the lighthouse. A trail at the left end of the parking lot leads to set of deck stairs and granite steps that bring you to the rocky shore where the view of the lighthouse is extraordinary, particularly at sunset.
Thurstons Lobster Pound:
Seven to eight minutes down the road from the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse (depending on traffic) is one of MDI’s most popular restaurants, Thurston’s. Situated on a two-level pier at the end of Steamboat Wharf Road, the lobster is rivaled only by the views of Blue Hill Bay at this quintessential Maine lobster pound.
Eagle Lake Carriage Road:
The lot at the north end of the lake may be full, but there is plenty of parking along Eagle Lake Road. The carriage roads in general, are a great place for walking and biking without having to worry about cars sneaking up behind you. Six miles around Eagle Lake, this carriage road is one of our favorites.
Cadillac Mountain and the Summit Trail:
The top of Cadillac Mountain is one of the most visited parts of Acadia, and for good reason. Views from several pull-offs, and of course from the summit, are spectacular. For some of the most sweeping vistas on Mount Desert Island, the half-mile walk around the Summit Trail is a must. Be the first in the United States to see the sunrise from the top of Cadillac in the fall and winter, when the sun rises south of due east. Amazing sunsets can also be enjoyed from the Blue Hill Overlook, just before you get to the Cadillac summit.