Acadia National Park – Schoodic Peninsula
Breathtaking views, blueberries, and seafood! It’s pretty much how we could sum up any given day in Maine this Summer! It was a special time for us as a family as we got the opportunity to enjoy some of the great outdoors of the East Coast.
We spent nearly a month in the State of Maine this summer. Eight days of it was staying in Acadia National Park on the Schoodic Peninsula. The Schoodic Peninsula, the only part of Acadia National Park found on the mainland, boasts granite headlands that bear erosional scars of storm waves and flood tides. Although similar in scenic splendor to portions of Mount Desert Island, the Schoodic Coast is a more secluded area. It is about an hour’s drive to the Hulls Cove Visitor Center in the entrance area of the park.
You can access the main attractions of Acadia and Bar Harbor by driving around on Route 3 or by taking the ferry boat from Winter Harbor. The trip takes about an hour, regardless of what method you choose. The ferry drops passengers off in picturesque town of Bar Harbor, where you’ll be able to have walking access to restaurants, bars, gift shops, and the free buses called Island Explorer. The Island Explorer is a network of bus routes that moves you around the park.
Once on the bus from Bar Harbor, you can get to any area of the park you desire to explore. Jordan Pond is a top-rated destination due to the beautiful lake, hiking trails, and famous Popovers they serve at Jordan Pond House. Popovers are a pastry baked in a well-greased popover pan or muffin tin. They are traditionally served warm or hot with butter and strawberry jam. They were sooooo delicious, warm and ready to eaten when we got them….we didn’t even get a chance to take a photo of them.
A list of bus destinations and timetables are available here. They are seasonal so be sure to check before you visit.
One of the more popular areas you’ll need to find transportation to is Cadillac Mountain. The bus service does not provide a direct drop-off to the overlook, but you can hike to this location from surrounding bus stops. Sunset and sunrise are the key times to visit Cadillac Mountain. When the visibility is good, it’s truly a sight to behold!
As with all the great National Parks, the hiking options are endless in Acadia for all abilities. One our whole family enjoyed was the Ocean Path hike. It’s a fairly easy 3+ mile trail that begins at Sand Beach, a stunning sandy beach in the middle of the mountains & rocky shoreline. Once on the path, you will come along various side trails that are absolutely worth exploring, as you will be treated to exceptional views of the coastline and local wildlife. A stop not to miss along the trail is Thunder Hole. If you’re able to time your stop with the tides you will be treated to a thunderous show of sound and the oceans power. Even on a calm day, this was still a gorgeous place to stop and explore. Following down further, you will hit Otter Point. This was our stopping point and where we caught the bus back around the island. Only after we found a great little area where we could enjoy our packed lunches and and breathe in that cool, soothing salty air.
We’ve been to many National Parks (Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Volcano, Sequoia, etc…), and Acadia is one of the most beautiful parks we have visited. The peninsula is lovely to get away from the crowds and get quiet, but to have relatively easy access to the more extensive park attractions is nice. Planning a visit to incorporate both sides of the park might be even better.
Some other tidbits:
If you’re a road cyclist, mountain biker, or beach cruiser, then you’ll love the several miles of biking trails Schoodic Peninsula offers. I enjoyed riding the Schoodic Loop Road and the 8.3 miles (13.4 km) of bike paths! Bicyclists must obey the one-way traffic flow on the road and are encouraged to use free Island Explorer buses and bike paths to get around. Steep and winding bike paths provide spectacular views both on pavement and off.
Acadia also has a “light pollution program.” This means at night, it will be dark, dark, dark! No city lights to throw off your celestial views! We took advantage of this by doing some nighttime photography, but you can see much of this with the naked eye. Absolutely incredible to see!
A hui hou Maine….we definitely fell in love with all your gorgeous mountains and coastlines. While very different in appearance, this is one place that reminded us of our island home with it true natural beauty. We will be back to explore again very soon!