Acadia National Park, located along the mid-section of the Maine coast, protects
the natural beauty of the highest rocky headlands along the Atlantic coastline
of the United States, an abundance of habitats, and a rich cultural heritage.
The park contains the tallest mountain on the Atlantic Coast of the United
States (Cadillac Mountain. 1530 feet), exposed granite domes, glacial
erratics, U-shaped valleys, and cobble beaches. Its mountains, lakes, streams,
wetlands, forests, meadows, and coastlines contribute to a diversity of plants
and animals. One of the most unique historical aspects of how Acadia
National Park formed is that it is due to the vision and donations of private
citizens like George B. Dorr and Charles W. Eliot, and John D. Rockefeller,
Jr., played a critical role by building the now famous carriage roads (1915 -
1933) and by donating over 11,000 acres of land.
Acadia was the first national park created from private lands gifted to the
Getting there ...
We had a red-eye flight to Newark NJ, and then a connecting flight to Bangor ME.
It was a short 1.5-hour drive from Bangor to Bar Harbor, where we had a nice
lunch (first lobster roll for Woanyu in this trip) before we headed to the park.
- The Beehive
The Beehive Loop trail is a mini version of an
adventurous hike with metal rungs and ladders (compared to other trails like
Precipice trail), but still provides spectacular views over Sand Beach,
Thunder Hole, and the Gulf of Maine stretching to the horizon. It was
fun to climb steep granite staircases, iron rungs, and ascend 450 feet of
exposed cliff faces. I cannot imagine how crowded it might get during
summer busy months.
- The Bowl
We continued our hike to the Bowl, a small pond nested in
the mountains of Acadia. It was a relaxed walk after completing the
thrilling Beehive trail.
- Gorham Mountain
From the Bowl, we continued on to the Gorham Mountain
trail to the summit (525 ft). There were much fewer hikers on the
Gorham Mountain that we did not see anyone else while we were at the summit
taking pictures. The entire loop (Beehive -- Bowl -- Gorham Mountain)
was about 2.2 miles and was quite diversified (steep cliff with iron rungs,
forest walk, lake shore, rocky summit, etc.), and it was absolutely
beautiful in the vibrant fall color.
Day 2 (10/14) ...
- Hulls Cove
It was a rainy day so I just planned some easy walk in the
forest around the visitor center and Sieur de Monts Spring. It was
perfect to have more photos of fall foliage.
- Sieur de Monts Spring
Acadia was initially designated Sieur de
Monts National Monument by proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson in 1916,
then renamed and redesignated Lafayette National Park in 1919. The park was
renamed Acadia National Park in 1929. The Sieur de Monts Spring House
was built by George B. Dorr in 1909. On a nearby rock he carved “The Sweet
Waters of Acadia” which can still be seen today. This serves as an important
monument to the Park's formation.
After a leisured pace of a relaxed morning, we went to
Bar Harbor and found a brewery place to have some
good beer and schnitzel (I missed
schnitzel very much since our trip to
Vienna in 2018).
- Cadillac Mountain and Park Loop Road
Although the weather was still
bad, we went up to the Cadillac Mountain since I already reserved the
entrance ticket for 3:30PM. It was so windy and had very poor
visibility, and the entire parking lot probably had less than 5 cars when we
We decided to come down from the mountain and drove
around the Park Loop Road to enjoy more fall color.
Day 3 (10/15) ...
- Carriage Road
Forty-five miles of rustic carriage roads, the gift of
philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. and family, weave around the
mountains and valleys of Acadia National Park. Rockefeller, a skilled
horseman, wanted to travel on motor-free byways via horse and carriage into
the heart of Mount Desert Island. His construction efforts from 1913 to 1940
resulted in roads with sweeping vistas and close-up views of the landscape.
We rented e-bikes from the Bar
Harbor Bicycle Shop. It was open at 9AM, and there was already a
long line when we got there at 9:05AM. They had plenty of e-bikes in
stock so everyone in the line could get what they wanted (but when we
returned our e-bikes at ~ 12:30PM, all e-bikes were already gone).
Riding an e-bike on the Carriage Road is the best way (and easiest too) to
explore the forests and enjoy the fall color as you can stop anytime without
worry about any cars or any others.
- Beech Mountain
After a lunch break, we went to hike the Beech
Mountain. It was cloudy again and we could not see anything when we
got to the top of the mountain (where there is a fire lookout). When
we went down from the mountain (we did the loop trail clockwise), we had a
nice view of Long Pond and the west side of Mount Desert Island.
- Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
One of the iconic Acadia sunset views is
at the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. The small parking lot was so busy
and crowded that you had to wait in a long line (one car left and one car
could come in). Most people did not stay too long so we could get our
parking spot after ~20 minutes. Unfortunately it was too cloudy to
have any sunset so we also left after taking a few pictures. I could
not imagine how it is possible to get a parking space if people are staying
for the sunset when weather is good....
Day 4 (10/16) ...
I woke up early to drive to the Thunder Hole and hoped to see the sunrise
(it was the only sunny day in the weather forecast for our 5-day stay in
Acadia). However, it was extremely foggy along the coastline that we
could not see any sign of sunrise at all.
- Sightseeing & Nature Cruise
I booked the 2-hour Sightseeing & Nature cruise to the Frenchman Bay.
It had amazing views of costal scenery, timeless mansions, Egg Rock
lighthouse, and had the opportunities to see eagles, porpoises, seals, and
other interesting marine mammals and birds. The sea was calm today
that even Woanyu did not worry about seasickness.
- The South Bubble
The "Bubbles" are two small mountains at the
northern end of Jordan Pond. We picked the hike to the South Bubble
which offers amazing views from the summit. The famous "Bubble Rock",
a large boulder that was carried by glaciers and deposited at the seemingly
precarious edge of a cliff, is also an interesting attraction at the South
- Cadillac Mountain
I reserved a ticket to go up to the Cadillac
Mountain again at 3:30PM. It's a totally different experience compared
to 2 days ago when we could not see anything at all. We walked around
the summit and enjoyed the views from all directions. When it was
closer to the sunset time, we actually drove down to a turnout where we
could easily see both east and west directions.
After sunset, we went to Geddy's in Bar Harbor to have a
nice lobster dinner (at least
Woanyu enjoyed it very much :-))
Day 5 (10/17) ...
- Bar Island
Located in Frenchman Bay just north of the tourist town of
Bar Harbor are several small islands including the Porcupine Islands and Bar
Island. Bar Harbor's namesake feature is the long shallow bar that runs
through the water between town and Bar Island. During low tide, the bar
becomes dry land and allows visitors to experience a unique little hike onto
the island, which is officially part of Acadia National Park.
We got to
the bar about an hour before the low tide and saw many people stopped at the
water edge where there was the last few inches of water blocking the way to
the island. We decided to run across the water and
left all these people behind us
:-) There was a trail on the Bar Island following an old dirt
road east to the high point of the island which offers a nice view back at
Bar Harbor and the nearby mountain peaks of Acadia.
- Bar Harbor
After lunch, we took a walk around the Bar Harbor beyond
the streets with restaurants.
- Sand Beach & Thunder Hole
- Park Loop Road
My original plan was to go to Jordan Pond and did some
hiking around the pond. Unfortunately, it was so crowded and we could
not find any parking space (we circled the parking lots twice including
another nearby parking lot). We decided to just go driving with our
rental convertible (Ford Mustang) and took more pictures around the Park
Going Home (10/18) ...
We started our drive back to Bangor at 8AM for our flight home. The
fall color in Acadia was truly amazing. We were lucky that the foliage
peak time aligned quite well with our trip. I really enjoyed the forest
views along the Park Loop Road and Carriage Road that there were plenty of photo
opportunities at every corner and every turn. It reminded me that our last
trip to New England to photograph fall color was
5 years ago when both Linus and
Iris was still in college in the east coast. Time does fly fast...
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