Located across Bar Harbor from Mount Desert Island, Maine, Bar Island is an uninhabited tidal island that is part of Acadia National Park, offering self-guided hiking opportunities. Bar Island is incorporated as part of the municipality of Gouldsboro, which is located on Maine’s mainland near the Schoodic Peninsula. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.


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The municipality comprises the land of a former coastal plantation and was incorporated in 1789, prior to the establishment of Maine as an independent state. Though the city of Bar Harbor has repeatedly attempted to gain authority over the island due to its close proximity, all attempts have been unsuccessful, and a 1903 court ruling declared that the island should remain under the jurisdiction of Gouldsboro. Since 1986, the island has been incorporated as part of Acadia National Park.

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Today, Bar Island is accessible via a natural land bridge sandbar located near Bar Harbor’s West Street town pier. During the summer months, visitors may park at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center in Acadia National Park and take an Island Explorer Bus to Bar Harbor, which departs near the entrance to the sandbar. The sandbar is only accessible for several hours before, during, and after low tide, which occurs twice daily. Visitors may travel the sandbar on foot or park their cars on the bridge, though drivers are asked to exercise caution, as tide conditions change quickly and vehicles may become submerged, stranding visitors on the island until the next low tide. Access to the bar is provided through the city’s Bridge Street, which does not offer street parking. Visitors may also explore the sandbar’s small tide pool areas for snail eggs and sea stars, though collecting is not allowed.

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The island is forested with pine and birch trees and offers dramatic views of Bar Harbor, Frenchman Bay, and Mount Desert Island from its peak. On the island, the two-mile-roundtrip Bar Island Trail offers family-friendly hiking experiences along an old dirt road. The trail’s middle portion travels through a meadow, which features blooming wildflowers during the spring and early summer months. The abandoned homestead of journalist and author Jack Perkins, purchased by the National Park Service in 2003, is accessible from the trail and offers views of Bar Harbor. The island’s peak reaches 160 feet in elevation above its access point and offers views of nearby Acadia mountain peaks, including Champlain and Cadillac Mountains.

The hike is considered an easy hike and is recommended for families and beginning hikers. Hikers should plan approximately one to two hours to walk the trail in both directions. The trail is open to the public between spring and fall, with all visitors encouraged to check tide conditions before visiting the island to avoid being stranded on the island between low tides. All visitors are advised to bring watches, cell phones, and hiking shoes to the island. Dogs are allowed on the island on six-foot leashes. Geocaching is prohibited on the island, though Acadia National Park sponsors an EarthCache program.

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3.Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park
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The land that now encompasses Acadia National Park was the traditional home of the Wabanaki indigenous tribe and was first discovered in 1604 by French navigator Samuel de Champlain. In the early 20th century, landscape architect Charles Eliot and textile heir George B. Dorr campaigned for the establishment of a national park facility on Mount Desert Island and several of its associated nearby islands. In 1916, the land was established as Sieur de Monts National Monument by President Woodrow Wilson, and in 1919, the monument was converted into a national park, named Lafayette National Park in honor of American revolutionary supported Marquis de Lafayette. In 1929, the park’s name was changed to Acadia National Park, honoring the former French colony of Acadia.

Today, more than 47,000 acres of land in Mount Desert Island, the Schoodic Peninsula, and Isle au Haut are preserved as part of the park. More than two million annual visitors attend the park, which is open year-round but offers limited seasonal accessibility at some sites. The Hulls Cove Visitor Center offers informational exhibits, documentary showings, and an Eastern National bookstore, while several nature centers and museums showcase exhibits and information about the park’s wildlife and natural features. A network of carriage trails in the park was designed by philanthropist John D. Rockefeller throughout the 1920s and 1930s, which now encompass 50 miles within the park. 158 miles of hiking trails are also offered throughout the park, along with three campsites and five lean-to shelters for overnight accommodations. An official park restaurant, the Jordan Pond House Restaurant, serves lunch, dinner, and tea from mid-May through late October. A variety of attractions and visitor amenities are also offered in the nearby city of Bar Harbor.

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Bar Island

  • History, Photo: NAN/stock.adobe.com
  • Attractions, Photo: Yggdrasill/stock.adobe.com
  • Acadia National Park, Photo: Harry Collins/stock.adobe.com
  • Cover Photo: Courtesy of demerzel21 - Fotolia.com

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