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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