Thursday, September 13, 2012

Acadia National Park

We just returned from a three-day exploration of Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island. On Sunday we drove along the 27-mile loop road, under gray skies. The high surf crashed against the rocky shore and the thick evergreen forest along the road darkened our entry into the park. Wind whipped our jackets as we stood on Sand Beach -- the only sandy beach along the Park's coastal shore.
Monday morning we woke at daybreak, the sun streaming in the windows of our small cottage rental. A new day with bright and beautiful weather. We drove to the top of the 1,530-foot Cadillac Mountain along the 4-mile historic road to catch the morning rays as they touched this highest point on the Atlantic seaboard.
In the distance the tip of Schoodic Point was bathed in the morning light.
We stood on the top of the bald summit, just as the French explorer Samuel de Champlain saw it in 1604, prompting him to name the island "Isles des Monts Deserts." But the island is far from a barren desert (it is also worth noting that deserts are actually not barren either).

The beauty, diversity, and geologic history of Acadia reveals itself as you explore the trails, shoreline, coves, rocky summits, forests, and lakes. It offers dramatic rocky shores and quiet, woodland paths, places to observe, think, and reflect. The summit of Cadillac Mountain was only the start of our own exploration. Every direction offered awe-inspiring vistas.
Here we look northeast to Bar Harbor, Bar Island and the four porcupine islands in Frenchman Bay.
A view south to the great expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.
A walking path loops around the summit with sweeping views and close-ups of the granite summit and wildflowers--including goldenrods and cinquefoil--tucked into sheltered crevices.
Jordan Pond is a popular destination in the Park. Many visitors stop at the Jordan Pond House for tea and popovers. Under a brilliant blue sky we opted instead for a hike along the eastern shore of the pond. The trail was flat and scenic, lined with northern white cedar and red spruce. The water was clear. North and South Bubble mountains dominated the view at the north end of the pond, while the long, sloping Penobscot Mountain stretched above the western shore of Jordan Pond.
North and South Bubble and the clear waters of Jordan Pond
Penobscot Mountain above the western shore.
Northern white cedar grows along the shore.
The rocky shores of Acadia National Park are dramatic: the surf crashes against the Ellsworth schist, breaking off bits or large blocks over time. The waves rush into rocky coves, sloshing and spraying, and roaring like thunder. The views are stunning.
There is so much more to Acadia than we had time for on this trip. A network of footpaths and carriage roads lead away from the main thoroughfares. Someday we'll return and wander down some of those paths.


  1. Ellen, this is an first-rate report, and it holds special interest to me since my wife and I are tentatively planning a visit to this destination in early October. You report firms up many of the ideas we've been considering as places to visit while we're there.

    And for all your postings, I admire your perspective, and the details you provide, such as the bits & bobs in this report about Ellsworth schist, northern white cedar, and the historical reference to Samuel de Champlain sighting of this place in 1604.

    Thanks for posting!

  2. Hi John,

    Thanks for the comments and glad you liked the report. We didn't do a lot of hiking nor any biking since my in-laws were with us and were less mobile. There are so many trails; road and mountain biking is also hugely popular. I would hike the entire Jordan Loop as well as hike to the top of Cadillac and/or Champlain, the Bubbles -- so many choices! And of course the shoreline is so beautiful. I definitely recommend the Map Adventures map. October at Acadia will be beautiful. We were surprised at how busy it was in September. We usually got to the park before 9:00 am, before the crowds got too big. If you go into Bar Harbor we had dinner at a nice restaurant on Main Street -- Blaze.

    Regards, Ellen