It goes without saying that Acadia National Park is a beautiful place, and was an especially beautiful place to have our first look at the Atlantic Ocean on this trip. Our campsite was a short walk away from the water, so after parking the van we walked down to see what was left of the day and watch the waves crash on the rocks.
In the morning we took the shuttle, which is free throughout the park (a donation/marketing ploy by LL Bean), to a visitor's center and trailhead to figure out what hike we wanted to do. We chose a trail that led us past the Tarn, a pond in the process of becoming a field, on a stone footpath to vertical stairs, up metal ladders drilled into rock, through pine forests, over rocky boulders with views of the ocean and eventually to the top of Dorr Mountain.
Along the Tarn:
From there we hiked down the other side and up Cadillac Mountain, the highest in the park (but not that high compared to West coast peaks). The views were amazing of the islands and water.
On top of Cadillac:
The park ranger at the trailhead had recommended we take a different trail from the top of Cadillac Mountain along the ridge back to our campground instead of looping back to the visitor's center. This way we could hike directly back to camp and avoid taking the shuttle. I'm glad we decided to do this because the trail faced the ocean so the majority of the way we were looking out across the water, treetops and various outlying islands.
This was one of the best hikes we've had on this trip, in part because it was not a loop trail, but also because the scenery and terrain varied so much. It was also cooler out but sunny, a perfect day to spend hiking.
We had another (somewhat cold) night at the campground and in the morning left the campground and went to explore other parts of the park, including Sandy Beach (the only one in Acadia), the “Thunder Hole” (a small rock inlet where ocean waves crash – not as cool as Thor's Well in Oregon), and rode the shuttle around the park.
We had a nice conversation with a man travelling with some Amish folks. We went to a coffee shop in the afternoon in Bar Harbor, a lively tourist town, then had dinner at the Thirsty Whale Tavern.
That night we spent outside of Bar Harbor at a Walmart and in the morning drove back into the park to get to an access point of the carriage roads. These are old gravel roads originally used by the the New England elite who once owned the land that is now Acadia and used it as their summer playground. These roads are now popular hiking, biking and walking trails that create a network through the forests of Acadia.
We spent a few hours biking around, looking at the water, forests, stone bridges built by Rockefeller and lakes/ponds. More or less an ideal way to spend a fall day.
Eagle Lake along the carriage roads:
Hint of fall:
We intentionally worked up an appetite in order to fully enjoy our lunch: MAINE LOBSTER. Neither of us had ever had a whole lobster in this fashion. For about $35 we had two lobsters, a bushel of mussels and two ears of corn. Eating the lobster wavered between delicious and sort of sickening, what with it's guts and the like. In my opinion, the highlight was the blueberry pie for dessert, the best blueberry pie I've ever had.
From there we drove south along the coast, through many small, picturesque towns. We stayed overnight near Portland, went into the city for pizza, and the next day continued towards Salem, Mass.