For my 40th birthday my husband surprised me with a weekend getaway to hike in Acadia National Park in Maine. Although this blog is mainly concerned with our family’s adventures in the White Mountains, I thought it would be appropriate to add this trip, as the main focus was hiking.
With the highest summit in Acadia at just over 1500 feet, it wouldn’t seem that the hiking is exceptionally difficult, but there is plenty of variety and terrain for all hiking abilities and styles within the park. We were fortunate to have visited in mid-September rather than in mid-July, which result in the blessings of beautiful weather, no insects and very few other visitors except at the most popular and easily accessible spots: Thunder Hole, Jordan Pond, Cadillac Mt., etc.
We stayed at the Somes Sound View Campground right on Somes Sound, across from the main section of the park. My husband got the Sunrise site which that had a tent platform right at the edge of the water. If you’re up early enough, you can watch the sunrise over the ridge on the other side of the sound. We arrived and set up the tent in the dark, so we didn’t have a good idea of what the site actually looked like, until we got up early the next morning and watched the sun rise.
After watching the sun rise, we got geared up and headed out to Acadia National Park for our first day of hiking. I bought a map and guidebook upon the advice of the Mountain Wanderer and already had a list of things that I wanted to do for the weekend. The first stop was supposed to be the Beehive. We missed the parking lot for the Beehive, and we couldn’t go back since the Park Loop Road is one way only on the section we were on. After consulting the map, we decided to hike Gorham Mt. via the Gorham Mt. and Cadillac Cliffs Trails, and then over to the Beehive. Gorham was a neat little mountain, and was our first view of both the ocean and other peaks in the park.
We then headed over to the Beehive and then up, up, up the Beehive. The Beehive is either fun or terrifying. I enjoyed it; my husband, not so much. He loves to hike, but the iron steps and handrails and exposure isn’t his cup of tea (with or without honey).
After getting to the summit, my husband consulted the map and we decided make this a loop hike rather than an out and back, which was a great idea. In fact, all the hikes we went on were turned into loop hikes so that we would not walk the same trails back to the car and in the process get to see more of the park. After descending the Beehive into the Bowl, we crossed the Park Loop Road to the Sand Beach and then picked up the Ocean Path, which lead us back to our car. Along the way, we were able to stop and check out the rocks, cliffs and ocean. We stopped at the Thunder Hole area to eat lunch and watch the ocean.
Once back at the car, we headed further around the Park to Jordan Pond, with the intent to hike Penobscot and Sargent Mts via the Spring and Pensobsct Mt. Trails. We again were treated to great views of the ocean, nearby islands and surrounding terrain. When we arrived at the summit of Pensobscot, we decided to leave Sargent for another trip and finish the hike by hiking down to and around Jordan Pond on the Jordan Pond Path back to the car.
On our second and last day of the trip, we decided to hike up Cadillac Mt via the North Ridge Trail, over to Dorr Mt. and then back to the car. The trail up to Cadillac was nice with views out to Bar Harbor and nearby islands once up on the ledges. Because there also is an auto road to Cadillac, there were plenty of people in the summit area, and had the feeling of a minature Mt. Washington. We went over to the actual summit, where we saw only four people and then headed off to Dorr. The descent off of Cadillac on the Gorge Path is short, but steep and the ascent up Dorr is equally as short and steep. When you get to the bottom of the gorge in between the two mountains, you really have hit rock bottom!
This day’s lunch views were looking over from the relative quiet of Dorr, where we saw four other people, to the busy summit area of Cadillac, which we could see was lined with visitors. A quick descent down the Dorr North Ridge, Hemlock and Gorge Path Trails and road walk brought us back to the car.
Last, but not least, one of the best views of the second day:
Our campsite did have showers, but they operated with tokens. Since we were there at the start of the “off-season” it was difficult to find anyone around to exchange money for tokens. Finding this nice place in Otter Creek was fantastic.
We had a great trip, and intend to go back in the future with the children as there is still plenty to explore and see in Acadia, like the Bubbles, Sargent Mt., the trails on the east side of Dorr Mt, and much more. With all the variety of terrain, I think we can satisfy everyone’s need (or not) for adventure and still enjoy the trip.