Sweeping 360-degree views consisting of azure-blue water, islands, mountains and trees, rugged coastline, the ringing of the lighthouse in the fog, endless carriage roads and hiking trails - those are the things that define Acadia National Park.
Acadia was the first National Park I've ever been to. As an 11-year old kid, I was mesmerized by the rugged coastline, the evergreen-covered mountains, and numerous, crystal-clear lakes of Mount Desert Island, and most importantly, the fall foliage. That was my first visit to Acadia in 2001. Since then, I've visited the island several times and this spring, while trying to figure out what adventure to go on for Memorial Day weekend, I've stumbled upon the last remaining campsite at Blackwoods campground in Acadia. I asked Larisa if she wanted to go and given her love of Maine, she couldn't be more excited.
So we packed up the car, loaded up the bikes on the roof, and headed up to Maine on early Saturday morning.
We didn't really have a plan. Acadia is great because you can just come to the island, and decide what you're going to do when you are there. The park is fairly small, so it's easy to partake in different activities throughout the day. But don't get me wrong - while a lot smaller than Yellowstone or Denali, Acadia still offers over 125 miles of hiking trails, and plenty of opportunities to boat, fish, swim, rock climb, bike, and really do whatever you want to do.
We arrived in Bar Harbor, the main town on Mount Desert Island around noon, so it was time for lunch. There are a few nice seafood places on the water, so we went into one of them, a little place called Stewart's. I ordered some clam chowder and Larisa had lobster bisque. Good stuff.
After the light seafood meal we drove to the campground to check in and set up camp. Blackwoods campground is one of the two federal campgrounds on the island, and while conveniently located at the heart of the park, there are over 300 campsites so can get a little hectic and loud. Luckily, our site was fairly isolated from others (until we realized that the site next to us was a "kids" tent).
That evening we went on a lovely hike up to Mount Penobscot and Mount Sargent, coming down to Jordan Pond and returning along the shore to the parking area where we left our car. The entire hike was roughly 4 miles.
The thing I love perhaps most about Acadia is that the trails are short, and you get a rewarding view after only hiking for a few minutes. Beehive, which we hiked Sunday, is a prime example of that.
On Saturday evening, we decided to watch sunset on the summit of Cadillac mountain - a view worthwhile. I've posted another sunset series blog early this month, but the sunset view from Cadillac is entirely different than the sunset from Monadnock. We sat on the summit of Cadillac, watching the sun scatter its bright orange rays over the mountains and lakes of Maine's mainland. It's a sight you can never forget.
Sunday, we attempted to rock climb at Otter Cliffs, but due to an insanely large number of people trying to do just that, we weren't able to find a route that was free. We decided to hike Cadillac instead. Even though we just drove up to the summit the prior evening, Larisa wanted to hike the tallest mountain on the island. We took Gorge Trail up to the summit, giving us some awesome views of Bar Harbor.
After Cadillac, we had some time left, so before returning to the campground for an early dinner and relaxation by the fire, we hiked Beehive and visited Sand Beach - one of the most beautiful beaches in the Northeast, in my opinion. There's something truly remarkable about the clean, white sand, the azure water and the rugged cliffs on both sides of the beach.
Larisa was very excited to be back at the campground before dark - we had enough time to cook food and enjoy the fire while making s'mores and popcorn.
Monday, we attempted to climb at Otter Cliffs once again, with little luck. Without cams, it's difficult to find routes that have metal ring anchors. Having wasted an hour waiting for a route to open up, we decided to bike instead, and that turned out to be an awesome activity choice for the day. We drove to the western part of the island, visited less frequently by tourists, it is a little bit more wild, more quiet.
We parked at Echo Lake and biked on some forest roads for a few hours, biking as far as Long Pond.
On the way off the island, we visited Bass Harbor lighthouse, and enjoyed some lobsters in Trenton at a very authentic, Mainely lobster shack. Love it.