A few stellar outings in Acadia National Park can be found below, scroll on down...
There are several more day trips on the website's DEER ISLE-STONINGTON and EGGEMOGGIN REACH pages to whet your appetite if you're heading to Blue Hill.
National Geographic Explorer judged the Blue Hill Peninsula to be the No. 1 outdoor activity region on the whole coast. It also features the best kayaking you can imagine. Get outdoors!
The view towards Penobscot Bay from
Cadillac Mountain in Acadia Natl. Park
Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island (MDI) is probably the most famous spot in Maine and certainly the most visited in the summer. It's absolutely stunning wherever you go. Tons of information is published on this jewel but I'll give you a heads up on outings, both popular (so you know what to expect) and less visited (for an excellent wilderness feeling).
Sunrise, Cadillac Mountain in Acadia Natl. Park
Jordan Pond, with great views in all seasons, carriage roads for hiking & cycling, well groomed trails, popovers (plus tasty meals) on the lawn, gift shop, and also reachable by public transportation, is a top go-to place in the park. Access here is well planned for everyone. This beautiful spot gets very crowded in high summer so be prepared to walk a little ways when you find a parking spot. You might want to drop off your passengers at the Jordan Pond House first. The crowds begin to thin down around mid August and the fall colors are gorgeous. Pay attention to the parking times or a cute ranger on horseback might write you a ticket.
In addition to the first rate gift shop and unforgettable restaurant an easy trail meanders all around the pond. The east side of the trail is a leisurely stroll with natural places to sit along the path. The west side is mostly boardwalk with a more rugged shoreline, and although easy to access it can be tough on the feet, so bring your most comfortable walking shoes and socks. You can scramble up to the top of The Bubbles from this trail for a wicked good experience. Kayaks, canoes and small car top boats will easily launch from the lower parking lot. The Pond is a public water supply so there's no swimming allowed but the fishing is fine here.
Heading downstream from the pond is a carriage road that will soon bring you to a wonderful cobblestone bridge over cascading water and then down to Little Long Pond. The carriage roads form a vast web of trails where you might even encounter a horse drawn carriage -
a charming way to explore the park
(rides start at the Wildwood Stables).
Photo: Little Long Pond in Seal Harbor
If Jordan Pond's too crowded for you Bubble Pond is just around the bend with a fine view of the mountains, a cobblestone bridge and good access to several points, including the Eagle Lake loop with yet another stone bridge and a beach.
On the western side of Mount Desert Island, known as the quiet side, Long Pond features activities ranging from a community beach on the north end, to a quiet beach along the southern rim, to a remote woodland access point on the west side. A number of trails run along the lake and up into the mountains from the Pond and the south beach provides an uncrowded swimming spot (photo at right)
Special note for kayaks & canoes: this pond picks up sustained winds coming off the ocean starting at about 11 am every day and lasting several hours. The wind comes from the south and is really difficult to paddle against. Plan your outings accordingly with the return trip having the strong winds at your back. Other MDI ponds with a North - South orientation experience these same winds.
The town beach is easily spotted on Pretty Marsh Road (Rt 102 - the main access road that takes you from Somesville to Seal Cove). It's a family spot so be prepared for a crowd on a hot day. You'll find a small boat launch here & you can rent water craft at the outfitters just across the road where they have big-wheel carriers that make it easy to bring a kayak / canoe to the water.
The southern beach is off the beaten path, wildly scenic and quiet. To get there head toward Southwest Harbor and take Seal Cove Road from Route 102 just before you reach the town. Next turn onto Long Pond Road and follow it to the shore. You can leave passengers and gear on the beach and then park in the lot just above. (Note: if you happen to be over by Seal Cove on the western section of Route 102 you can pick up Seal Cove Road from there and drive through the woods past historic settlement sites but it's closed in the off season.)
To get away from it all the western side of Long Pond has a deep forest access on the Long Pond Fire Road. This easy driving gravel road makes a loop with access points located on the western portion of Route 102. The top entrance is just a stone's throw from the Pretty Marsh Picnic Area / campsite. After a few miles the Pond comes into view and you can picnic, swim, fish, launch a car top boat or take long walks & bike rides through the forest. There's a parking area just up the rise from this open spot but most folks just park along the road.
The eastern boundary of Acadia National Park is defined by the Schoodic Peninsula in the town of Winter Harbor. Even though it's farther downeast than Mount Desert Island the range of outdoor activities and the views are just as exhilarating with significantly fewer tourists to encounter. Experiencing the open ocean from Schoodic Head is dazzling.
The relatively new Schoodic Woods Campground is located here and the peninsula is home to the park's Schoodic Institute, an active arts education center with a renowned artist in residence program and a variety of historic and modern architectural offerings situated among the lovely campus walking paths.
If you aren't up for the extra driving, you can take a ferry from Bar Harbor to Winter Harbor and hop on the free Island Explorer bus to tour the peninsula.
Maine Coast Outings on Penobscot Bay: for All Ages & Abilities
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