Acadia National Park
Photo: allard1/Fotolia

Acadia National Park, located along coast of Maine, is the oldest national park east of the Mississippi River. The park includes the majority of Mount Desert Island, as well as several smaller islands. The first inhabitants of the area were the Wabanaki Native Americans, dating back over 5,000 years.

6,000 acres of land donated for preservation by George B. Dorr was first named the Sieur de Monts National Monument by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. Additional land was acquired, and President Wilson signed the act that created Lafayette National Park in 1919. The name was later changed to Acadia National Park in 1929.

»Isle au Haut

Isle au Haut


Found near Stonington, Maine along the coast is the beautiful Isle au Haut, or also known as "High Island." Samuel Champlain named the island "High Island" in 1604 while exploring the coast of Maine. Heaps of shells along the shores of the island tell of a Native American presence before the arrival of Champlain. Large numbers of fishermen and farmers didn't come to the Isle au Haut until the end of the American Revolution.

The island's idyllic scenery and agreeable weather led to a small community during the summer being established in the 1880's. The community founder's heirs donated to the federal government part of Isle au Haut in 1943 to be used to increase the size of Acadia National Park. A large amount of the beauty of the island, half of the island, is now available for visitors to explore and enjoy thanks to their generosity. The remaining half of the island is privately owned, including a fishing community that is present year-round and summer residents.

Among the many activities possible on the island is bicycling. Seven miles of unpaved, rough road can be found on Isle au Haut, as well as five miles of paved roads. It's recommended that visitors use mountain bikes for the roads, and bicycles are not allowed on the hiking trails.

Isle au Haut, ME, also has many hiking opportunities. Visitors to Acadia National Park can explore wooded uplands, a freshwater lake that stretches a mile long, bogs, marshes, and rocky shorelines along the island's eighteen miles of trails. Hikers should be sure to bring adequate gear for rough trails. The best place to start hiking is at Duck Harbor.

A year-round, passenger-only ferry connects the mainland to Isle au Haut from the Isle au Haut Town Landing to Stonington. The ferry has an additional stop near the campground at Duck Harbor Boat Landing from the middle of June to late September. Availability on the ferry is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Photo: Brad/Fotolia

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»Schoodic

Schoodic


Visitors to Acadia National Park have a broad variety of opportunities to discover the rugged coast of Maine, without all of Mount Desert Island's congestion, on the Schoodic Peninsula. There's something for everyone on Schoodic, whether they are exploring the peninsula by car, by bicycle, or on foot. The six-mile Schoodic Loop Road is mostly one-way and provides great views of forested islands, seabirds, and lighthouses.

Vehicle turnouts are present throughout the road, providing a chance for visitors to stop and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Stopping anywhere else along the Schoodic Loop Road besides the designated pull-offs is not allowed. RVs are only allowed on the section of the road that accesses Schoodic Woods Campground.

Schoodic Point can be reached by Arey Cove Road. The windswept, rocky point offers amazing views of Mount Desert Island. Island Explorer buses provide free transportation around the peninsula during the summer. Visitors can wave down the bus as it passes and buses are equipped with bicycle racks.

In addition to the Schoodic Loop Road, 8.3 miles of paths are exist on the Schoodic Peninsula for bicycling. Winding, steep bicycle paths offer incredible views. Bicyclists are encouraged to use the bike paths and free Island Explorer buses. They are also required to obey the one-way traffic flow.

There are also numerous opportunities for hiking throughout the Schoodic Peninsula. The easy Alder Trail is only just slightly more than half a mile in length. The trail runs from the parking area of Blueberry Hill to the beginning of Schoodic Head Trail, passing through some great birding habitat. The Anvil Trail is more difficult, about one mile trail that features steep and rocky section as it makes its way up the southeastern side of Schoodic Head.

The moderate Buck Cove Trail starts in Schoodic Woods near the group sites and passes through highbush blueberries and forest to Buck Cove Mountain, continuing up the north face of Schoodic Head. Even though the East Trail is only half a mile long, it requires some scrambling at steep sections as it ascends the east side of Schoodic Head. The Lower Harbor Trail is an easy, one and a half mile trail that follows the coastline as it winds its way through pine forests, providing a chance to view sea birds. Both the Schoodic Head Trail and Sundew Trail are less than a mile in length. Schoodic Head Trail is a rocky trail that starts at the end of Alder Trail and summits Schoodic Head. Sundew Trail is nature trail that wanders through dense forests along the coastline and is located on the Schoodic Education and Research Center campus. Photo: Zack Frank/Fotolia

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»Activities

Activities


Acadia National Park offers several opportunities for climbers to enjoy the park. Otter Cliff features 60 feet sea cliffs, rappel access, and crack and face climbing. Great Head also offers sea cliff climbing and rappel access. Climbers should know weather and tides before attempting this high-grade sea cliff climb. The South Wall has thin cracks and good corners.

The park also has a few spot that are good for beginner climbers. South Bubble provides some good beginner routes and friction climbing. 1-pitch routes can be found at Central Slabs. There are several other small climbing areas that are used infrequently. Climbers can find good bouldering between Otter Cliff and Sand Beach along the ocean, as well as near the Blackwoods Campground.

Visitors have the chance to search for birds, porpoises, and seal along a ranger-narrated boat cruise in Acadia National Park during the season. During one of four different boat cruises, guests get the opportunity touch sea life brought up from the ocean floor, as well as learn about maritime history and island life. The two hour Frenchman Bay Cruise searches for wildlife and history aboard a four-masted, 151-foot schooner.

The Islesford Historical Cruise, a two and half hour cruise, travels to Little Cranberry Island for a visit to the Islesford Historical Museum. The cruise also explores the Somes Sound's scenic fjords, searching for wildlife along the route and the connections between the sea and people. The longest of the ranger-narrated boat cruises is the Baker Island Cruise that lasts four and a half hours. During this cruise, visitors will discover a remote, ocean-sculpted island that few visitors have ever seen. Guests will get the chance to explore the unique cultural and natural history of the island during a moderate hike led by a park ranger.

Another activity available while visiting Acadia National Park is tidepooling. Visitors can choose either self-guided tidepooling or ranger programs. For self-guided tidepooling, visitors can visit Bar Island Sand Bar, which is a great spot for young children.

The area can be reached from Bridge Street for around one and a half hours on either side of low tide. Another good tidepooling area is Wonderland and Ship Harbor, located on Mount Desert Island's west side. Ranger tidepooling programs are offered in Acadia National Park from June to October. Visitors should check a tide chart before heading out on their own to the intertidal zone. The most ideal times for tidepooling are the "spring" tides, the extreme low tides of the new and full moons. More Maine vacations Photo: Paul Lemke/Fotolia

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»Activities for Kids

Activities for Kids


Acadia National Park offers many kid-friendly activities. On such activity is the Junior Ranger Program, during which kids can learn about what it is like to be a park ranger. A visit to the park's Nature Center is also a great opportunity for children to learn more about the animals and plants that live throughout Acadia National Park. The Nature Center at Sieur de Monts Spring is filled with hands-on exhibits that help visitors explore how the animals and plants in the park are managed. Displays also have information on a variety of other topics, such as what birds can be found within the park and which habitats you can frogs or snakes.

For more fun outdoors, families can take ranger-narrated boat cruise in Acadia National Park. During the season, four different boat cruises narrated by a park ranger are offered. The park also provides a chance to play in the sand. Sand Beach, located on Mount Desert Island, is a sandy ocean beach. The water there is usually cold. If warmer water is preferred, park visitors can try going to Echo Lake Beach north of Southwest Harbor instead. A bike ride or hike is always a great family activity as well. Acadia National Park has 45 miles of winding roads for biking or walking, in addition to its 125 miles of hiking trails.

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Acadia National Park in Maine


  • Isle au Haut, Photo: Courtesy of Brad - Fotolia.com
  • Schoodic, Photo: Courtesy of Zack Frank - Fotolia.com
  • Activities, Photo: Courtesy of Paul Lemke - Fotolia.com
  • Activities for Kids, Photo: Courtesy of Victoria Lipov - Fotolia.com
  • Cover Photo: Courtesy of allard1 - Fotolia.com