Greetings Blog Fans and welcome back. For the Fourth of July week, we headed to a different part of the country and were able to enjoy Acadia National Park in Maine. In addition, we also welcomed Nicole’s boyfriend, Jacob, to the fray (don’t worry he survived!). As usual, we hiked many miles (35) but also added in some kayaking and a “cruise” (at least for Kuk and me).
Acadia NP is located on the coast of Maine. It’s about 5 hours or so from Boston and many make that nice drive. We flew into Bangor which is only about 75 minutes away. We loaded up on groceries and drove to our weekly rental.
Acadia NP is on Mount Desert Island and is intermixed with many small towns on the island. Bar Harbor is the largest and where the majority of the “action” is. Most of the housing options I found there (for this busy holiday week) were small and old so I cast a wider net and we ended up on the quiet (and opposite) side. That meant we weren’t really close to anything but we weren’t too far either. Most trips were 15-30 minutes.
Having heard how crowded it would be this week I was concerned about traffic and parking. However, our plan of getting going early (around 7) was enough to beat the crowds. It also helped with the unseasonably warm temps too.
Enough preamble — on to the photos!
Sunday — Thunder Hole area loop
I thought we’d get started with one of the more popular areas but less challenging hikes for our first day.
We parked at Thunder Hole (restrooms!), walked down to the Gorham Mountain trailhead, up Gorham Mountain, down to the Bowl, up the back of Beehive, re-traced back down to Sand Beach (green line). From there we did the Great Head loop and then back to Thunder Hole and beyond to Otter Point (blue line). Sounds like a lot but they were short segments.
8.3 miles in a leisurely 6:12 (4:12 moving with multiple snack stops). GPS said 2400′ total elevation change but you can see it was smaller ups and downs with the largest climb at ~500′.
All in all, a great first day and first hike. We got a good taste of the park while getting some miles under our belt. It was a nice warmup for the more challenging hikes on days 2 and 3.
Monday — Jordan Pond Peaks
After our “warmup” we decided to do the most challenging walk on day 2 while we were still fresh and everyone’s feet were still in good shape.
Jordan Pond is a popular area with a variety of hiking options. I tried to piece together a manageable combination of the many peaks around the pond. We started up the Spring Trail (very steep) to the Penobscot Mountain trail. After the summit we looked at Sargent Mountain and Sargent Mountain Pond but headed down the Deer Brook Trail. From Jordan Pond, we hiked up the back of South Bubble, back down (green line) and up North Bubble and then over to Connors Nubble. We hiked down to Eagle Lake and back along the very rocky (and tiring) Eagle Lake Trail until Jordan Pond Carry and finally along Jordan Pond.
Lot’s of climbing (a real 2400′), 8.9 miles in a slow 7:11 pace (4:46 moving).
Nice, albeit long, day. We survived though. Feet still in good shape all around. We enjoyed all the peaks but the walk along the Eagle Lake shoreline was rocky and tedious particularly at the end of a long day so maybe we’d give that a pass.
Tuesday — Cadillac Mountain
Cadillac Mountain is the tallest peak on Mount Desert Island and for most of the year is the first place in the US to see sunrise. As a result, there is quite a crowd at the top at sunrise but that wasn’t on our agenda. One can drive up to the top but that’s not how we roll.
There are various routes and options and I decided on taking the South Ridge trail. From there we had a couple of options back down the other side back into Bar Harbor. I had plans of doing Dorr and Kebo mountains on the way down but we simply took the Gorge path. To facilitate this straight through hike, we parked in Bar Harbor (early!) and took the #10 bus to just outside the Blackwoods campground.
7.9 miles in 5:35 (3:55 moving). Straight but reasonably gradual climb up to the 1500’+ (near) summit. Total elevation change of 2273′ but I am believing that less and less.
After walking back to town we sent the kids out for ice cream and shopping while Kuk and I enjoyed a beer (or two). We later met up at the green above. I had planned to eat at the Side Street Cafe but it was a tad early and we were pooped. We grabbed a few groceries and then got some awesome lobster mac-n-cheese (from Side Street) that we ate at home. We split a single full order (!) and had the second one later in the week.
Wednesday (7/4) — Tidepools and a Kayaking Adventure
We had a unique (for us) day planned for the Fourth. Taking advice from others, I booked an afternoon with Maine State Sea Kayak. For the morning, we puttered around the Ship Harbor trail (particularly good at low tide) and saw the Bass Harbor Lighthouse. I figure the “hike” was nearly 2 miles in about 2 hours but I didn’t record it.
We capped off the evening with our first lobster rolls at Beal’s Lobster Pier but had to tap out before the fireworks! Getting up early wipes you out.
Thanks to Nicole for the kayaking photos. We only purchased one phone case so she was the designated photographer. It’s challenging to take photos while also kayaking! At least she had a lanyard to keep it around her neck.
There were 11 guests plus a guide on our tour. (Travis was great). It was unseasonably warm (mid 90s) so it was a great day to be on the water. We took a van out and set off for about 7 miles along the coast. Animal sightings were down a little from normal but it was still worthwhile. We saw a bald eagle fly over towards the end which was the highlight.
After 4 hours on the water we were starving. Off to Beal’s to try some lobster. I assume this is somewhat typical experience (it felt like it) at least for a popular place. We lined up to place our order, took a number and the food was brought out. I liked that the owner/manager came out to interact with the folks in the line. We all enjoyed our first lobster roll experience.
Thursday — Acadia Mountain (+) and Flying Mountain
After a day off from hiking it was time to get back at it. This time in a slightly different area of the park. The first hike combined 3 peaks (Acadia, Valley Point, and St Sauveur). We then drove around to Flying Mountain. It was theoretically possible to combine these into a big loop but one of the Valley Cove Trail was closed due to falcon nesting.
We all really liked Acadia Mountain and the walk to Valley Peak had some nice views but the peak itself did not nor did St Sauveur. Flying Mountain was nice for a short walk but some were a little tired and cranky by this point in the day/week (hi Nicole!). There was a nice cove and beach (Valley Cove) that a few families and dogs enjoyed but we weren’t physically or mentally prepared for swimming.
4.9 miles, 1765′ total elevation, 4:29 (2:50 moving — we always take a nice lunch break and some of the stationary time is me waiting for Kuk). Acadia has many peaks but with the highest around 1500′ they are mostly reachable which makes for nice hikes.
Short hike: 1.6 miles in 1:13 (0:50 moving). The cove/beach is at the 1 mile mark.
No photos from Valley Peak or St Sauveur as noted above.
Thursday Night — Lobster Cruise!
I had planned to take Kuk out for dinner one night. While researching various boat trips (for Friday) I stumbled across the Acadia Lobster Cruise and decided to give that a try (surprise!). We met Captain Jason (and one other couple) along the pier in Northeast Harbor at 5:30. He took us around the immediate area and checked his 4 personal lobster traps. The season was just starting to kick in and he caught 8 keepers while explaining some of the rules and regulations for lobstering (he has had a commercial license in the past but doesn’t now and there is a long waiting list to get one). While taking us around to more sites, he fired up the lobster pot and cooked us a feast. What a first time lobster experience! It doesn’t get any fresher than that; we are spoiled now. Great evening out.
Friday — Wash Out
Friday was going to be somewhat open ended. I did have another hike planned but had some other options on the table as well. But, a storm front was rolling in and we decided not to chance it. We probably could have fit in the hike but didn’t want to be on a peak in a storm particularly given our lightning history!
So, we lounged around, played cards and watched the World Cup. Plus I got a head start on the blog! It was good to have a down day with family time particularly since we had such a productive week.
Saturday — Gardens
Our flights weren’t until the afternoon so we had more time for some sightseeing. The post-rain weather was gorgeous; more what I was expecting: cool morning, high around 70, low humidity. If only the rest of the week was like this instead of (relatively) hot/humid. Oh well!
We leisurely visited Thuya Garden and the Asticou Azalea Garden. Thuya was prettier but Asticou was more peaceful (more birds chirping too). We then had a quick walk around Northeast Harbor to show the kids where we had dinner on Thursday. We also had time to take in a few quick Bangor sites (there aren’t that many 🙂 )
Samples from Thuya below:
We bid Acadia adieu and headed back to Bangor via Ellsworth. After a totally uninspiring stop at the LL Bean Outlet (not the megastore), we did a couple of Bangor drive by sites before checking back in at the airport.
What a great week! It was nice to have Jacob join us as we all had a great time. It was a nice change of pace from our western forays. We enjoyed the scalable peaks with great views of the ocean, lakes and coves. We enjoyed trying lobster and staying on the “quietside” worked out well for us too.
Thanks for reading everyone!