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Every National Park is unique and Acadia is no exception. It is many square miles of volcanic island, called Mount Desert Island, just off the coast of Maine. Time has resulted in several round-topped, bare-granite hills or “mountains”, the tallest of which is Cadillac Mt. (1500 feet). The lower levels of these hills and the mid-island valleys are covered with dense forest and many lakes. It is interesting to see fresh-water lakes and the ocean co-existing in such close proximity.
After arriving in late morning we spent our first afternoon looking around the village of Bar Harbor, which is nestled next to the park on the island. The town apparently gets it’s name from the sand bar which connects it to an island off shore. The sand bar is exposed/covered with the tides. Therefore the second island (called Bar Island) alternates from separate island to part of Mt. Desert Island. One evening at 8:00 PM during low tide we drove our Jeep across the sand bar to the island. (Just for fun)
The village of Bar Harbor is a nice tourist trap with plenty of shops, art galleries and restaurants. There are also places to rent kayaks for use on the park lakes and bicycles for use on the park roads. Fishing is the real livelihood of the local population and the biggest seems to be harvesting lobsters. Lobster traps are set all along the coast lines and there are many small “Lobster Pounds” along the roadways where you can purchase live lobster or have it cooked for you to eat right there on picnic tables or to go home with you. Lobster is definitely one of the main features of this area. We had lobster cooked this way twice and it was delicious!
We spent our first full day in the park slowly driving the “Park Loop Road”. This road is a one-way, 25 mile, drive southerly around the eastern coast of Mt. Desert Island and then north again through the interior. The loop road winds up and down along the coast line providing many scenic overlooks and stop offs to view the rocky coastline. There are also dozens of hiking trails of varying difficulty and parking areas to leave your vehicle. We took Pepper with us that day and she enjoyed the many stops and walks on the trails. Near the end of the drive is a road that allows you to drive to the top of Cadillac Mt. The view of the ocean and many surrounding islands is spectacular. We set our alarm clock (this clock is not used much any more) for 3:30 AM one morning and drove up to the top of Cadillac Mt. to watch the sun rise. The term “first light” is used a lot in this area (such as The First Light Methodist Church) and refers to the fact that the top of Cadillac Mt. is the first place in the United States to receive the rays of the rising sun.
Another distinct feature of Acadia are the 46 miles of “Carriage Roads” that wind through the interior and provide an up-close view of the forests, hillsides and lakes. These roads were built in the early 1900’s by John D. Rockefeller as his way of sharing the beauty of the landscape and he donated these roads on the stipulation that they never be used for automobiles. Today hikers, bikers and horses use these roads to experience Acadia. We loved riding our bicycles here. Again there are many spots to park your car and either head out on bikes or on foot. We hiked many trails but the most spectacular was called "Beehive". The trail went right up the face of a rock cliff to an elevation of 600 feet. The trail was prepared with hand holds and foot holds so that even novices like us could do it. It was scary and fun.
We found Acadia National Park to be a quiet, low-key park where people just enjoyed nature at a leisurely pace. We had only one week available. Two weeks would have been ideal.
Take a look at the 22 pictures in the Acadia NP photo album.