Top 10 Things to Do at Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park is known for its rocky beaches and stunning cliffs. Within the 47,000 acres of protected land are 158 miles of hiking trails, 27 miles of historic motor roads, and 45 miles of carriage roads. A vacation here offers the opportunity for both relaxation and exhilaration. Every season of the year offers a unique experience at Acadia. You can delight in the spring wildflowers, bask in the summer sunshine, admire the fall foliage, or enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. We recommend taking at least 3 to 4 days to see all that Acadia National Park has to offer.
#1 Cadillac Mountain
Standing at 1,530 feet high, Cadillac Mountain is the tallest mountain in Acadia National Park and the Northeast Atlantic coast. The summit is reachable by foot or by car, although the road is closed during winter. It is one of the best places in the park to catch the sunrise. In fact, it is the first point to see the sunrise in the United States in October through March. Since it is reachable by car, the summit can get crowded on weekends. We recommend going out early to avoid the crowds.
#2 Park Loop Road
Take an auto tour along the scenic 27-mile Park Loop Road. You can start your journey at the Hulls Cove Visitor’s Center, then the road winds it way around the east side of the island. Many of the popular spots can be reached via the road, including Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Jordan Pond, and Otter Cliff. Visiting it all in one day would be difficult, especially if you want to stop and explore. However, you could break it up into 2 days or more and dedicate each day to visiting one of the spots along the road.
#3 Jordan Pond
The gorgeous Jordan Pond is an iconic part of Acadia National Park. It’s crystal-clear waters mirror the surrounding mountains, which makes for stunning pictures. There are several trails in the area such as Jordan Pond Nature Trail, Jordan Pond Shore Trail, and Perpendicular Trail. Another classic Acadia National Park icon is the Jordan Pond House Restaurant. Their signature popovers are well-known and loved throughout the region. It can be very crowded at the restaurant, so be prepared to wait. But we promise it is worth your time!
#4 Schoodic Point
Schoodic Point is the only portion of Acadia National Park that is located on the mainland. The removed location lends a feeling of secluded intimacy. Schoodic Point is known for the way the ocean surf crashes against its craggy shoreline, its beautiful granite headlands, and the surrounding spruce-fir forest. After a day of exploring and hiking, you can relax here at the Frazer Point picnic area, which is complete with tables, fire pits, water fountains, restrooms, and a dock.
#5 Sand Beach
Sand Beach is a small inlet nestled between two walls of solid pink granite and surrounded by towering evergreens. It’s a unique beach in that the sand is comprised of sharp shells and the temperature of the water rarely rises above 55 degrees. Two hiking trails begin on the beach: The Ocean Path and the Great Head Trail. The Ocean Path is a lovely walking trail that begins here and meanders along the rocky shore, past Thunder Hole and arrives at Otter Cliff. The Great Head Trail is a more challenging trail with ascending granite steps that lead you to spectacular views of Sand Beach and The Beehive.
#6 Carriage Roads
The Carriage Roads are a 27-mile long network of paved paths that is off-limits to motor vehicles. John D. Rockefeller Jr. created and funded these roads as a way for people to enjoy the park without cars. He specifically designed the carriage roads to highlight the best scenery the park has to offer, such as Jordan Pond and Eagle Lake. These roads are ideal for walking, jogging, and biking as well as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.
#7 Otter Cliff
Otter Cliff is a giant 110-foot high granite precipice. The name is derived from the many resident otters that dive off the high cliffs into the Atlantic Ocean. You can also spot whale pods off the shore. There is terrific rock climbing here, too. Otter Cliff is much less crowded than the other spots, like Jordan Beach and Cadillac Mountain.
#8 Thunder Hole
Thunder Hole is a small cavern just below the surface of the water that creates an incredible natural phenomenon. When the tides are changing, air enters the small cavern in such a way that incoming waves slap against it and create a loud boom, hence its name “Thunder Hole.” Be sure to bring a rain poncho as water can spray as far as 40 feet! Catching the big boom is a bit of luck, but the best time to visit is when the tides are changing.
#9 Beehive Trail
The Beehive Trail is a popular, yet challenging, hike at Acadia National Park. The first 100 yards are the hardest because the trail follows an old riverbed, so you have to hop from rock to rock. Then, you need to haul yourself up the mountain on iron rungs that are fastened into the mountain. This hike is for moderate to experienced hikers, and not suitable for those with a fear of heights! If you choose to conquer the Beehive Trail, you will be rewarded with amazing, sweeping views of Acadia National Park.
#10 Bass Harbor Lighthouse
The Bass Harbor Lighthouse is a classic and iconic Acadia site. Surprisingly, it is the only lighthouse in the park. The viewing area at the lighthouse offers beautiful panoramic views of Bass Harbor and the outlying islands. The views are especially breathtaking at sunrise or sunset.
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