The best adventures in Acadia National Park | Pro Club Bd


63 Parks Traveler started with a simple goal: to visit all US national parks. Avid backpacker and public-land nerd Emily Pennington has saved up, built a tiny van to travel and live in, and set out to practice best COVID-19 safety protocols along the way. Parks as we know them are changing fast and she wanted to see them before it was too late. Acadia is her 49th visit to the park.

I clutched a cold iron rung that glittered in the early sunlight and felt my left hand slip on the mud of a previous wanderer’s boot. I felt my heart rate increase as I climbed for a better hold. My chest tightened. My stomach sank. Below me was a near-vertical cliff over 300 feet, and I was now clinging with one hand to a lichen-strewn wall overlooking the Atlantic.

Southeast Maine’s Acadia National Park is famous for this type of death-defying hike with sweeping views of the wild ocean, also known as rung and ladder trails. When I met up with my friend JC last October to explore the area for a few days, the first stop on our list was also the most dangerous. At 3.2 miles, the Precipice Loop might seem like a moderate day hike by most standards, but less than half a mile later the trail morphed from dirt singletrack into an adventure maze of car-sized chunks of granite and thin metal poles used as hand and foot rests to serve. It scared me a lot more than my morning latte.

The author enjoys the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain. (Photo: Emily Pennington)

After climbing a thousand feet in less than a mile, we both stood at the top of Champlain Mountain, our legs shaky but not worn out. The next day, I muttered to myself, should be more relaxed.

Acadia is home to 45 miles of gravel roads, a gift from John D. Rockefeller Jr. early 20th century white birch and maple. I rented a bike in Bar Harbor, a small, historic town surrounded by a park, and put my lungs to the test as JC and I set out from Jordan Pond for a 13-mile jaunt around the forested Sargent Mountain . As we ascended, the view of the glittering sapphire lakes was tremendous, but soon my breathing became ragged and my long-sleeved thermal pants were soaked with sweat.

The wheels spun, the wind whipping my hair around the plastic cage of my helmet as I eagerly zoomed across babbling brooks and rocky bridges to complete the loop. It was mid-afternoon by then, and we were both dying for a batch of Jordan Pond House’s famous popovers and jams. I hungrily buttered my two puffs and devoured them in minutes, crumbs and all. Although Acadia didn’t have the high peaks of my native California, the park never failed to impress me with its variety of recreational opportunities.

To cap off the trip, we both got up before dawn to watch the sun’s faint light from the top of Cadillac Mountain trace its way across island-strewn Frenchman Bay. The peak, the highest point along the east coast, also sees the country’s first rays of light from October to early March. Every morning hundreds of travelers compete for position to see the show and we were no different.

Wrapped up and eyes weary, I leaned against a granite pillar and stared into infinity as the sky lit up like a Day Glo Rothko painting—first periwinkle, then fuchsia, then bright amber. As I shivered in the midst of a crowd of strangers, I could feel I was in the midst of a memory that would last a lifetime as I waited for the new twinkle of our nearest star to gently warm my cheeks.

63 Parks Traveler Acadia Info

Size: 49,077 hectares

Location: Southeast Maine

Created in: 1916 (Sieur de Monts National Monument), 1919 (Lafayette National Park), 1929 (renamed Acadia National Park)

Best for: Hiking, sailing, coastal drives, rock climbing, tide pool viewing, biking, history buffs

When to go: Summer (53 to 79 degrees) offers warm weather and little rainfall, while fall (32 to 71 degrees) is popular with leaf scouts. Winter (15 to 38 degrees) is calm and perfect for snowshoeing the carriage roads, and spring (25 to 65 degrees) brings hundreds of wildflowers.

Where to sleep: Acadia operates four official campgrounds, two of which (Blackwoods and Seawall) are located on Mount Desert Island near the park’s main center. If you’re looking for a more leisurely stay with a hot shower, views of the Atlantic and a superior complimentary breakfast, check out the Hampton Inn Bar Harbor.

Mini Adventures: Watch the sunrise from the top of Cadillac Mountain. Get a vehicle reservation and set your alarm to catch the first rays of light on land from the park’s highest point, then steer your car down the paved hillside and onto Park Loop Road, which offers stunning coastal views and easy access to highlights like Thunder Hole. Jordan Pond and Otter Cliffs.

Mega Adventure: Hike one of Acadia’s rung and ladder trails. Although the Beehive Loop is everyone’s favorite on social media, the Precipice Loop is longer and far more scenic if you’re an experienced scrambler with a head for heights. Go before 10 a.m. to avoid the crowds, and consider taking a hike on the park’s horse-drawn carriage roads if rain is forecast. Then treat yourself to the area’s most famous delicacy – a lobster roll – at Stewman’s Lobster Pound. You deserve it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.