Cadillac Mountain at Sunrise: An Acadia Must Do
The ultimate right of passage when visiting Acadia NP is to trek up Cadillac Mountain to view the sunrise. There are a couple of ways you can do this.
The easy way is to drive up to the summit with the masses. However, prepare yourself to park along the side of the summit road as the parking lot fills up quickly. Now set up your camera pointing towards the ocean and prepare for one of the most stunning sunrises you have ever seen.
You can also get an early start and hike the 5.5 mile point to point North and South Ridge Trails. This will require hiking in the dark so bring a good headlamp.
After the sunrise head into Bar Harbor for an amazing breakfast catering to Acadia’s sunrise seekers.
Hike Precipice Loop: Daredevils Only
If you want to take on the most treacherous hike in Acadia NP then look no further than Precipice Loop. Only a short .7 miles from the summit Precipice trail offers plenty of shear drops and scary twists and turns to freak out even the most adventurous of hikers.
The first .4 miles presents you with a steep boulder field, a couple of crawl through spaces, and a peculiarly placed set of rungs designed to test your technical ability. Over the next .3 miles of the hike you are essentially climbing the face of a cliff. A series of iron rungs are strategically placed along the rock face in the form of ladders and holds.
If you are squeamish about shimmying along the edge of a cliff then this is not the hike for you. Keep in mind once you get to the intersection of the Orange and Black Trail this becomes a one way hike to the summit, as there is not enough room for two hikers on the trail. After you pass the first ladder you’re committed.
Go Kayaking or Canoeing: Get Your Paddle On
There are exponential opportunities for boating in this coastal national park. As a result, you can find charters to take groups out on the bay all day long from sunrise to sunset. Handfuls of kayak outfitters lead tours and provide rentals to the adventurer looking for a self propelled Acadian adventure.
However, there are a number of lakes in the park that are excellent for canoeing. On our trip last fall, while taking a drive around Mount Desert Island we decided to go for a paddle on Great Long Pond. Right at the tip of the lake is a small parking area with a dock. Across the street you will find National Park Canoe and Kayak Rental. http://www.nationalparkcanoerental.com. In the off season rentals are done on the honor system.
We attempted to canoe the whole perimeter of the pond and got to explore about half of it in three hours of paddling on calm water. Basically, this can be done as an all day event and one we were not prepared for at the time. Be sure to bring plenty of food, water, and sunscreen if you want to make it all the way to the other side of the pond. It may look easy but it is quite the journey. Also be aware that you may only swim in certain areas of the pond. And don’t forget your camera as you will probably see some loons.
- Stargaze: Find Your Peace and Quiet
Acadia is well known for its night skies. Be sure to take a ride along park loop road after dark and find a quiet spot to lay down and look up.
If you’re visiting in peak season this will be a welcome respite from the overwhelming daytime crowds. There’s nothing like listening to the waves hitting the rocks while looking up at some of the clearest night skies you can find in the continental U.S.
- Go For a Bike Ride: Escape the Traffic
Acadia has 57 miles of crushed stone carriage roads that are closed to motor vehicles. Therefore these paths are excellent for hiking or better yet, riding your bike. Also, Along these carriage roads are 17 beautiful stone bridges that are irresistible photo ops.
If you don’t have a bike or a way to transport your bike from home, no need to worry. There are multiple bike shops in downtown Bar Harbor where you can hire a bike from a few hours to a few days or longer. Check out http://barharborbike.com for a rental right in downtown Bar Harbor.