The terrible hidden secret in America’s National Parks is tucked away in a far corner of the continental United States in a lonely wilderness.
In fact, during peak season, Acadia National Park is one of the busiest. Each year, more than 3.5 million individuals visit. However, if you’ve ever visited, you’ll understand why it’s on so many people’s bucket lists in the United States.
Acadia National Park Hikes
The northeast’s renowned rocky coastline is rarely seen in its natural state. With 158 miles of interconnected trails that climb high cliffs to open summits, you’ll be guaranteed to experience a stunning vista no matter which path you choose.
Hiking difficult terrain isn’t the only method to get around, though. A wonderful walk through nature without breaking a sweat is possible thanks to 45 kilometers of carriage roads.
Many of the more famous attractions have parking lots nearby, making it a short walk to the beach. For people with limited mobility, the National Park Service has prepared an accessibility guide.
Maine’s mild summers make it an appealing location for anyone looking to escape the country’s mid-summer heat. The fall hues also make it a great route for leaf-peepers.
Acadia Hiking Essentials
Here are some hiking suggestions for Acadia:
- During high seasons, the more popular attractions require parking reservations in addition to the park entrance charge ($30 per vehicle or $15 per person). Arrive early or take advantage of the complimentary Island Explorer shuttle service to the most popular attractions.
- The America the Beautiful pass is the greatest bargain if you plan to visit another national park within a year. With this handy national park pass, you may visit every US national park for only $80.
- In the northeast, be wary of ticks. Always use insect repellant and inspect after each hike.
- Parts of the Park Loop route are one-way, and parking is scarce. When planning your itinerary, make sure to get the Acadia National Park map ahead of time.
Acadia National Park’s Best Easy Hikes
The Wonderland walk, which follows an ancient gravel road, is a more leisurely stroll than the rest of Acadia’s excursions. You will, however, go down to the shore through magnificent woodland to play in the tide pools and watch the ocean slowly carve the coastline.
This is a peaceful stroll in Acadia that requires some time to take in the sights and sounds of the rocky shoreline.
Ocean Path Trail
One of the nicest hikes in Acadia National Park is the Ocean Path! This trail is ideal for those who want to avoid the climbs and simply enjoy a walk along the seaside. This out-and-back walk, which starts at the Sand Beach parking lot and ends with views of Otter Cliff, follows the coast past some of the park’s most popular attractions.
Thunder Hole, Monument Cave, Otter Cove, and a Rockefeller plaque are among the attractions along the route. Along the trip, you’ll see the Cadillac and Dorr Mountains.
Wear sturdy footwear because the path can be slick at times. During peak seasons, you can either walk back or take the Island Explorer Bus.
Gorham Mountain Loop
Gorham Mountain Walk is a moderately difficult trail with a touch of history that gives great vistas at a low elevation. Begin by parking at Gorham Mountain. At the southeast corner, a path marker has been carved into a stump.
The peak is accessible after a short hike of just under a mile. You have the option of returning for a shorter Acadia trek or continuing along the Bowl Trail to the Ocean Path Trail. Return to the Gorham Mountain parking area after stopping at Thunder Hole.
Acadia Mountain Trail
On Maine Route 102, about a half-mile south of Hall Quarry Road, there is a trailhead. The Acadia Mountain Trail isn’t as striking as the more difficult walks. However, traveling through this forest trail is a delight.
Along the route, there are a few views of Echo Lake that provide a cause to pause and take it all in. You’ll also get views of Somes Sound and the expansive coastal woodland towards the summit.
The trail can be completed by following the Man o’ War fire road. Take a little detour along the way to visit Man o’War Brook Falls, which cascade into the Atlantic below.
South Bubble Trail
South Bubble Trail is a beginner-friendly trek that can be joined to make a more difficult circle. There are connections to Jordan Pond Path, North Bubble, and the entire Bubbles Nubbles Loop available. The trek up to Bubble Rock is not difficult, and it takes approximately an hour. It becomes a little steeper after that, with a little more scrambling.
There are plenty of places to stop and enjoy the scenery along the journey, including Jordan Pond.
Great Head Trail
The Great Head Trail is a safer alternative to Beehive Trail. It begins at Sand Beach and winds its way along the water before entering the forest. A few fragments of the Satterlee tower and the adjacent tea house can be seen along the way.
Views of Sand Beach, Beehive, Otter Cliffs, and other Mount Desert Island favorites are available via a much more moderate hike.
Just a few miles below the Sieur de Monts entry is a small parking lot for the Precipice Trail. It tends to fill up quickly, so arrive early. The Precipice Trail, despite being only 0.9 miles long, climbs to a height of over 1,000 feet. Much of it is only accessible via permanent rungs driven into the mountain due to the steep terrain.
As you approach the first eponymous precipice, your courage is put to the test almost immediately. You shimmy across Champlain Mountain’s steep face with just a pair of metal handholds.
This short hike establishes the tone for the remainder of the hike. You scramble over boulders, scale metal ladders, and shout “don’t look down” as you make your way to the top.
However, the reward is well worth the effort. Views of the Maine shoreline can be seen along the trip. You can also get a panoramic view of the park from the summit.
Wet weather makes the treacherous ascent impossible. And going back the same way is strongly discouraged.
Following the Champlain, North Ridge Trail to the Orange and Black Path will bring you to the end of the trail. There are several steep areas to handle, albeit they are much simpler than the ascent.
Cadillac South Ridge Trail
It is possible to reach the summit of Cadillac Mountain in a more straightforward manner. This long hike in Acadia, on the other hand, allows you to take in the landscape.
Begin at the trailhead, which is located just southwest of Blackwoods Campground’s main entrance. For the initial part of the hike, you’ll be in the woods, but you’ll soon be out of them. To get to the top, follow the cairns and blue blazes.
For those who opted to take the simple route to the top, there is a parking lot near the peak, as well as a gift shop.
By taking a small trail down to the Island Explorer shuttle stop and returning to the campground, you can avoid the return hike.
Jordan Cliffs Trail
This walk, which starts at the Jordan Pond boat launch and ends with vistas of Jordan Pond and Eagle Lake, is another of the park’s tough hikes. Along the route, there are a few iron rungs and a narrow bridge to climb. The Jordan Cliffs track, with its steep climbs and exposed descent, is best left to individuals who are more prepared for such terrain.
If you’re up for it, though, the magnificent views of the surrounding mountains will not disappoint.
We’ll start our next hike approximately a mile down the road. The Sand Creek parking area is the best place to start the Beehive Trail or Beehive Loop Trail. From mid-June to mid-October, however, you must make a parking reservation between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. This is in an effort to keep congestion at the most popular tourist attractions under control.
The Bowl Trailhead is located directly across the street from the parking lot. The Beehive Path can be found about a quarter of a mile along the trail.
This is one of the park’s most popular trails. It’s not for the faint of heart, either.
It consists of loose rock, exposed cliffs, and at times climbing iron rungs, although being only 0.8 mi (1.4 km) long. If you are terrified of heights or are not in good physical condition, this is clearly not the trail for you.
You’ll be rewarded with panoramic vistas of the New England shoreline from every angle.
Thankfully, you won’t have to go back the way you came. You’ll finish by descending the Bowl trail, passing a less agitated crowd ascending the simple way.
What is the best way to get to Acadia National Park?
Acadia is frequently visited as part of a road trip in the northeastern United States. I-95 will take you to Bangor or Augusta, then State Routes 1A or 3 will take you to Ellsworth.
The park entrance is around an hour away from Bangor International Airport. There are a number of significant vehicle rental firms located there.
From Boston, you may fly directly to Hancock County Airport. Despite being a tiny airport, automobile rental choices are available. It’s merely a ten-minute drive from there to Acadia National Park.
When is the best time to go to Acadia National Park?
The weather, the number of tourists, and bugs are the three most crucial elements to consider. In July, the average temperature reaches 76°F, offering it a pleasant respite from the terrible heat of the lower 48 states. The moderate summer temperatures, on the other hand, are tempered by the increasing throng.
The months of July and August have the most visits. The more popular places can grow crowded as the number of visitors increases from roughly 500,000 in June to over 750,000 in July.
In addition, from mid-May to mid-June, black flies and mosquitos are more abundant.
Highs in the 50s and 60s are expected in April and May but expect lows in the 30s.
The best time to visit appears to be late September to mid-October. The mix of good weather, fewer people, and fewer insects are tempting.
The Bottom Line
While this is not an entire list, you will undoubtedly find something that suits your level of adventure and fitness. Stays in Acadia can range from a long weekend to a full week of outdoor activity, thanks to the miles of trails and carriage roads. Even better, Acadia is part of one of America’s best road adventures. Use it as a jumping-off point to see other popular New England destinations. Alternatively, get your automobile ready for a cross-country road trip.