Acadia National Park is a 3-hour drive up the east coast from Portland, Maine. Along the way, you’ll pass picturesque harbor towns and numerous signs for Lob-stahhh. You should stop in one or two towns for a photo, lobster roll, and souvenir shopping. Some of my favorites were Rockport and Belfast. Then, it’s onto the main event – Acadia, the king of the east coast parks. It is a popular place, receiving 3.5 million visitors annually. Unless you want to camp inside the park, stay at nearby Bar Harbor.
Start at the Hulls Cove Visitor’s Center. Then, drive Park Loop Road, a 27-mile scenic drive that is open from mid-April to November. This will take you by many of the park’s main attractions and features numerous pull-outs for photos. There is also a small nature center along the way. If you like hiking, there are many trailheads for coastal, lake, forest, and summit trails. Most of the trails are between 1.5 and 5 miles, unless you are hiking summit trails or Schoodic Peninsula trails.
One of the first attractions you’ll come to is the Beehive Trail, named for its hive-like shape. This trail uses iron gratings and rungs to assist your ascent, so it is not for anyone that has a fear of heights. However, the views are worth the effort. Next comes Thunder Hole, one of my favorite parts of the park. This beautiful, massive shore of red rocks is known for the loud thundering sound that is made when incoming waves crash against the cavern. Also in this area is the Ocean Path, a 2-mile trail from Sand Beach to Otter Cliffs that offers views of coastal tidal pools and rocky shores.
If you are hungry, the Jordan Pond House is the only restaurant inside park boundaries. Have a drink and some popovers before taking a stroll by the pond. A little father north is access to the main highlight of the park - Cadillac Mountain. This is the highest point on the east coast at 1530’. You can hike to the summit or drive up a road that branches off of Park Loop Road. It is definitely one of the best places to catch a sunrise since you are so far east.
For camping, the Blackwoods Campground has a great location close to the Beehive Trail area. The Seawall Campground is in a less populated area, close to the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. For an even more secluded experience in the park, head for the Schoodic Peninsula, which is found on the mainland and has a campground. Or, take the ferry to Isle au Haut and setup camp at Duck Harbor with advanced reservations.