Acadia National Park
Insider Tips for a Quality Visit
Always visit Acadia with a backup plan. If a parking lot or area is full when you arrive, pick a new destination and protect the park by not adding to the congestion.
Acadia offers more than 125 miles of interconnected and looping hiking trails that appeal to explorers of all skill levels. To simply relax and enjoy your vacation on a scenic yet casual walk, try some local favorites which can all be reached from the Island Explorer Bus Service...
From the upper parking lot at Sand Beach, this easy walk takes you to Otter Point and back. The entire trail skirts the Atlantic, so you have breathtaking views at every step. Stop at Thunder Hole for photos (Easy, 4 mile round trip).
Start in town at the Village Green and connect to the Jesup Path, which meanders through the woods near Kebo Valley Golf Club and across a bog to Great Meadow, a freshwater marsh (2.5 miles, easy). Visit with park rangers at Acadia’s Nature Center, take a walk through the Wild Gardens of Acadia, and visit the historic Abbe Museum before returning to Bar Harbor. For a one-way walk, take the Island Explorer bus to Sieur de Monts then take a leisurely stroll back to Bar Harbor after visiting these park highlights.
Hike on the North or South Ridge Trails to the Cadillac summit at 1,530 feet to enjoy spectacular 360-degree views of Bar Harbor, Frenchman Bay, and the Cranberry Isles. If driving is your only option, remember that you'll need a reservation during peak visitation times (May through October) in order to gain access to the mountain's summit. Consider alternate locations to take in the sunrise or sunset if you aren't able to secure a reservation during your visit. Locals know that Cadillac Mountain is also one of the best places to enjoy the moon rise or to take in the beauty of the starry night skies.
On the eastern face of Champlain Mountain, you’ll discover the most challenging of the park’s hiking trails. With an exposed 1000-foot vertical surface ascended on rung ladders, the climb is strenuous and recommended for experienced, ﬁt, and fearless adventurers. This hike is not recommended for young children or hikers with a fear of heights. Dogs are prohibited for their safety. The Precipice is also home to a family of endangered peregrine falcons and is always closed between late spring and early summer while these territorial birds are nesting.
The best place to get expansive scenic views of Acadia National Park is from offshore in Frenchman’s Bay. Avoid the bustle of mid-day crowds and join a Ranger-led boat tour around Mount Desert Island or visit an offshore island…
FRENCHMAN BAY CRUISE
Join a park ranger for a 1.5 hour sail on the 151-foot long windjammer, the Margaret Todd. Sail amongst the porcupine islands and enjoy shoreline views of Acadia National Park. Watch for marine mammals and seabirds in Frenchman Bay. Tour departs from the Bar Harbor Inn dock in Bar Harbor. For reservations, call (207)288-4585 or visit www.downeastwindjammer.com.
BAKER ISLAND CRUISE
Join a park ranger on a five-hour ocean and island tour to Baker Island to visit a historic cemetery and homestead, the Baker Island Lighthouse, and a rugged, rocky shoreline. Enjoy fantastic views of Mount Desert Island and watch for seabirds, seals, porpoise, and other marine life while traveling to this offshore gem. Not recommended for small children or visitors with mobility issues as this tour walks for several miles on non-level surfaces. Departs from Bar Harbor. For reservations, call (207) 288-2386 or visit www.barharborwhales.com to buy tickets.
Visit the remains of the cottage home of the father of Acadia, George B. Dorr. Enjoy an old growth forest and scenic views of the Bar Harbor shoreline. This path is a short walk from the ball fields located on the south-side of Bar Harbor. It is the easiest trail to access on foot from Bar Harbor so it is perfect if you want to leave your car at your downtown hotel or if you want to take a short ride on the Island Explorer bus from another Bar Harbor location.
ISLESFORD SCENIC & HISTORIC CRUISE
Join a park ranger for a 3-hour cruise to explore the connections between people and the sea with a visit to the Islesford Historical Museum and Little Cranberry Island. Enjoy sweeping views of Somes Sound, watch for marine mammals and seabirds, and view multiple lighthouses while traveling to the lobstering community of Islesford. Tour departs from Northeast Harbor. For reservations, call (207)276-5352 or visit www.cruiseacadia.com.
These are the boat tours with park rangers on-board but many other boat tour options exist for sea kayaking, lobstering, nature viewing, whale watching, underwater diving, and sunset sailing. Sunset is an amazing time to take a boat trip because you will get 360 degree views of the setting sun as the colors reflect on the offshore waters.
For more trip planning ideas and information on ranger-led programs, special use permits, fees, and management efforts in Acadia National Park, please visit the Acadia National Park website at www.nps.gov/acad or join them on their official social media pages at AcadiaNPS.