Acadia National Park: The Hidden Gem of the Northeast

what to do in acadia national park

As an avid national park goer, I always feel at home once I’m surrounded by the trees and trails. There’s something about losing cell service that forces me to finally break free from all connection and establish roots (pun intended) into the present moment. Three days in Acadia National Park did just that.

Located as northeast as it can get, Acadia is situated along Maine’s east coast. Although it seems to continually fall short of its bigger badder cousin, the Adirondacks, this breathtaking park and neighboring village, Bar Harbor, should not be missed. Acadia’s quaint size allows you to see the whole park in just a few days but gives you a variety of activities. Despite foggy mornings and misty afternoons, our hikes were draped in dazzling views and memorable experiences.

Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park
Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park

A morning in Acadia starts early. Cadillac Mountain is the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard and the first place you can see the sunrise in the states. While you can opt to hike the 4-ish miles up to the top, I’m not about that life at 5am. We chose to drive up a half an hour before sunrise and certainly were not alone. The parking lot fills up quickly so make sure to get an early, early start. We were cursed with a cloudy morning, but the reflection of the morning flow on the islands still made the trip worth it.

Bubble Rock, Acadia National Park
Bubble Rock, Acadia National Park

After a quick shower and change of clothes, we planned our hikes for the day. The trails vary in length so it’s easy to try out various short treks (like Bubble Rock) or commit to one longer one, like The Precipice. We found a happy medium in the Beehive Trail. With one main road following the circumference of the island, it’s hard to get lost. Definitely still possibly due to the amount of u-turns we took, but still difficult. We took on Park Loop Road after a short stop at Thunder Hole, a viewpoint where you can watch the waves crash into shore making the sound of, you guessed it, thunder.

Beehive Trail Lake
Beehive Trail Lake

Once we were sufficiently covered in the ocean’s salty mist, we worked our way to the entrance of Beehive Mountain. This two mile trail starts with a full view of the climb ahead. A strenuous hike that goes nearly vertical at times rewards you with breathtaking views of Sandy Beach as well as a secluded lake on top of the mountain. I could go into intricate detail about how the fog sat confidently over the water’s edge and created a dream-like atmosphere, but the pictures are worth far more than the words I could write.

Beehive Trail, Acadia National Park
Beehive Trail, Acadia National Park

Famished and tired after a long day of exploring, there’s only one way to conclude an evening in Maine: lobster rolls and blueberry pie. The Thirsty Whale did not disappoint. The small town situated in the park, Bar Harbor, is full of colorful local shops and buttery smelling restaurants lining the narrows roads. Given the high demand for lobster, it’s not surprising that the aroma of butter mixing with sea salt make for an appetizer visit. Seasoners, those who come for the summer, are seen hanging around the shore with drippy ice cream cones and a gaggle of kids skipping rocks. Although it’s busy enough for what one might call a half-hearted night life, there is a peacefulness that lays over the town once the sheet of stars come out.

lobster

Our final morning in Acadia was saved for a kayak adventure with Coastal Kayak Tours. Another early start let us paddle through perfectly still water, before the boaters and fisherman turned the mirror-like harbor into a ripple of lobster traps and swarming pelicans. A true highlight of the trip, this guided tour gave us the history of Bar Harbor and the stories behind the lobstering lifestyle familiar to this region. Once sufficiently nature-overloaded and blueberry-stuffed, we solemnly said our goodbyes to the hidden gem with plans to return the following year.

Sea Kayak Tours, Bar Harbor
Sea Kayak Tours, Bar Harbor

Have you ever been to Acadia National Park? What National Park in your must-see?

xx,
Juliette

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