Monday, June 18, 2012

Hiking and Biking In Acadia National Park

Jordon Pond - Acadia National Park
June 15, 2012
(My apologies for the two spots on the camera lens)

We knew that the pace of our trip would change once we reached Maine. And it has!   The focus during these two weeks was to be on hiking and biking the trails/carriage roads of Acadia National Park.  Acadia, at only 47,000+ acres, is one of our smaller national parks, yet it attracts more than 3 million visitors each year.   Thankfully, we have been here very early in the season and have never felt a sense of overcrowding.   After a very interesting 2/10th mile rock climb to Conners Nubble last Thursday, we had a delightful 45 minutes ALONE on top with a 360 degree view of what seemed liked THE WORLD!!  We never saw another soul!!  

Yesterday (Sunday), we drove to Bar Harbor mostly to revisit Bar Island (with which I am fascinated) and Bill's favorite ice cream parlor (with which HE is fascinated) only to find that TWO cruise ships were in port for the day.  Even with the addition of 2,000 people from those ships, the town did not seem crowded like we had expected it to be.  In fact, there are TWO things which have been very pleasant unexpected surprises on this trip to New England.  I think I've mentioned previously that Bill has wanted to do this trip for the last couple of years, but I have hesitated because of these two things neither of which in the end, have been a factor!!   The first is crowds.   We are fortunate to be able to travel during May/June and are generally able to avoid the higher prices and larger crowds of the main tourist season.  With the less rural area of New England, its popularity and its proximity to the I-95 corridor (think NYC to Boston) coupled with the areas notorious reputation for crowding, I just anticipated that the last few weeks of our trip would be spent fighting crowded places.  That has simply NOT been the case.

The second (and several of you have actually asked about this) was the well-known New England mosquito and black fly issues.   During a normal year, following "mud season" when many trails are actually CLOSED, the mosquitoes come out in droves.   Lots of veteran NE outdoors enthusiasts simply hang it up for the season.   And then sometime between Mother's Day and Father's Day come the dreaded black flies.   For those of us from the south, these are NOT your normal pesky flies that bother our picnics or we chase around our kitchens with the fly swatter!!   These are GIANT ugly flies that BITE!  We have personal experience with the arrival of black fly season having naively encountered it during our 2001 Summer Adventure in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  And we DON'T want to encounter it again!  

Having said all that, I am happy to say that we have not seen any black flies although local website tracking enthusiasts say they are here.   Technically, that would've been more of an issue around Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire as we are told that they are LESS of a problem here on the coast because of the constant breeze.   We have purchased and are using insect repellant, but I certainly can't say that mosquitoes have been a problem or kept us from doing anything we wanted to do.  

We took a "rest" day from hiking/biking and drove the 50 miles to Bangor late last week.  Bangor (pop. 31,400+) is considered to be the cultural, retail and commercial center for eastern and northern Maine.   For us, it was simply a destination that allowed us to drive some backroads of Maine to see what it's like AWAY from the tourism focused areas around Bar Harbor and Acadia.  We also were able to visit one of only two Sam's Club locations in the ENTIRE state of Maine.  It was nice to stock up on some of our familiar staple items we haven't been able to find.  Other than Sam's, we didn't find much in Bangor that held our attention.  The world's tallest statue of Paul Bunyan, was completly enclosed in some mega-construction project so we weren't even able to pay homage to the father of our nation's lumber industry!!

Other than that, our days have been filled with meandering around in our little village of Southwest Harbor (which we love) and hiking/biking.   With less than a week to go before turning our car south and heading home, we are beginning to think about that as well.  Our return trip is left open-ended to allow for some flexibility.   Sometimes, we are just ready to get on the road and go,  other years, we still have some meandering left in us and enjoy a slow paced return seeing some more interesting things along the way.   Not sure yet what this year is going to be, but we know it will involve at least one more state capital city!!

In the meantime, enjoy some pictures from the hiking trails and carriage roads of Acadia National Park!!

There are 125 miles of carriage trails around Acadia National Park.  Every intersection is signed like this one and is identified with a number (see it near the bottom of the pic - this was #9) that corresponds to a number on a well-drawn map that can be obtained at the visitor center.  There are lots of intersections and with a map, almost impossible to become lost.   Without a would be clueless and we've seen plenty of "clueless" people!!   On this day, we were doing the Eagle Lake Loop.

Something rather unique to us is that the 125 miles of hiking trails are constructed in and around the carriage trails, so it is easy to map out a great hike using both.  A few miles into the Eagle Lake Loop carriage trail, we secured our bikes and headed up what we thought to be a "piece of cake" 2/10th mile to Conners Nubble.   I'll write more later about the hiking trails of Acadia, but for now, just know that most of the time, 2/10th mile in Acadia is worse than 5 MILES in the Smokies!  In Acadia, you do not hike, you rock-climb!!  And that's exactly what this was!  Yes, Bill is on the trail.   He is actually reaching back to help me up!

To say I was proud of myself is quite an understatement.  In fact, at one point, I'd told Bill to just go on - I'd wait.   Except there was no easy place to wait and I couldn't get back down without his help!! Once we made it, the 360 degree view was incredible and we proudly placed our stone at the top of the cairn.   We enjoyed our time there, but all I could think about was how I was going to get back down!  

 Back down on terra firma, we completed the Eagle Lake Loop and drove over to Jordon Pond to hike the Jordon Pond Stream Trail.  This is a view of the Bubbles (I can only imagine what OTHER names have been given to this!!) which we will be hiking before we leave.

This was the Witch Hole Pond and Paradise Hill Loop Carriage Trail.   We chose to bike the Witch Hole Pond part, secure the bikes and walk the Paradise Hill section. 

Rest stop at the top of Paradise Hill overlooking Frenchman's Bay.

One of the very unique features of the carriage roads are the 16 bridges.  The bridges were built to cross a ravine, stream or road and EACH ONE IS DIFFERENT!  I'd hoped to find them all!  Not sure that is going to happen, but here is my favorite so far.  It is a triple arched bridge that crossed one of the few mountain streams in the park.  The design was so intricate and beautiful!  (If you follow the link describing all the bridges, this one is the Duck Pond Bridge)

We saw lots of Beaver dams, but I've rarely seen one where the "front door" is so clearly evident!  I'd have waited an HOUR if I thought I might have seen a beaver come or go.   Since they are primarily nocturnal, most likely it wasn't going to happen!!

Here are a couple of miscellaneous pictures I thought you might enjoy......................

The village green in Bar Harbor, ME.   Couldn't believe how uncrowded it was on a Sunday afternoon.   Vastly different story a few blocks over on the waterfront where two cruise ships were docked!!  Bill's favorite ice cream parlor is straight ahead where you see the red awnings!!

I am completely mesmerized by Bar Island.  It can only be reached during low tide. This pictures was taken on Sunday afternoon as low tide was approaching.  In less than an hour.......................

......................this is what it looked like.  Is that cool or what!!

Thanks for reading!!!


  1. Ah, I'm smiling as I remember my own trip there and going out to Bar Island. We stayed in a B & B with a view of the island. The one day we biked it was drizzling. I thought the trails had a lot more hills than I expected and biking there was a lot of work!

  2. Beautiful Sharon! And I'm so proud of you for getting up those rocks to see that amazing view. You look wonderful by the way! Thanks for continuing to bring us along on your adventure!

  3. That is cool about Bar Island. So have you spotted Martha Stewart up there? I think she has a house in that area. She did a show using her horses and carriage on the trails.

    Wow, the rock climbing is very impressive too.

    Gorgeous pics!

  4. Tides are just so cool, aren't they? Moon power!

    Thankfully you missed out on the black flies. Ugh! Mosquitoes have become quite the problem around here lately with almost daily rain and now heat.

  5. Beautiful pictures of down east. I love Bar Harbor but we must have missed the island when we were there last. Glad you made it to the Bubbles. Love the fact that you are biking on those carriage trails. They are lovely!

  6. I have to laugh at your rock climbing instead of hiking comment. We have encountered many of those type of trails in the past few months. I have also had the same thoughts about how are we going to get down once we get to the top! Hubby never thinks about that on his way up. :)

    I'm loving all the photos and details that you are sharing with us.

    You look so fit and trim - great job on the diet and exercise while on vacation.

  7. You're looking slimmer and slimmer Ms Sharon! Your photo in this post shows a better figure. I'm sure your feeling so good about it and you deserve a loud applause and a pat on the back. God bless you more! ♪( ´θ`)ノ♥

  8. All my life I've had problems with how to "get back down." I would climb trees and be stuck until everyone would leave me there and I'd be forced to come down as best I could. I climbed Stone Mountain with a cousin when I was in my 20's and didn't think about coming back down. I was terrified and came down part way on my behind. Sad but true.

    Thanks for sharing your trip. The pictures are great!

  9. Hi Sharon! Thanks for visiting/reading our hiking blog yesterday ( I had to come pay you a visit! I love seeing all these Maine photos. So many of my favorite places. :-)

  10. Great post. Thanks again for taking us along and for such interesting, comprehensive posts. It took me back to our visit to Acadia a few years ago. We were innocents about the black flies and mosquitoes, but lucked out and didn't have any trouble.

  11. I saw the Paul Bunyan in Minnesota. It was cool. I HATE those flies that bite. I got bit 3 times by flies at our block party. They left blood on my ankles.

    :-) Marion

  12. You look wonderful Sharon. I hope John and I will be able to take the kids places like that someday.

  13. Not sure how I got so far behind, but I'm caught up now and ready for more adventuring! :)

  14. Ah...Bar Harbor and Acadia. Another place I love. Bar Island is a neat place. We always wonder if people ever get stranded out there by not paying attention to the tide. I'm sure it happens. I'm hoping we can take a trip up there again maybe 2014.

  15. Sharon, thank you for sharing your adventures in and around Acadia with us this week! Your pictures are beautiful and it looks like you are having an incredible time in Maine! Thanks for shopping with us and safe travels from all of us at Sam’s Club! – Ramona from Sam’s Club