Maine Pictures (4 pictures)
One of the places on my "to do" list was Acadia National Park, and I had a chance to make a short visit in late October 2006. The area's off season actually starts in mid-October. There are some advantages to going in the off season, such as much cheaper rates and less people. There are also some disadvantages in that it was very cool and most of the leaves had been blown off the trees (though there were some color) and the bathroom at Sand Beach (no running water) seemed to be the only one in the park that wasn't "Closed for the Season". There are somethings I did that weren't really trail related (or the trails were so short that I'm not writing them up) that I thought I'd mention. I got lucky. It rained heavily the night I arrived (which didn't seem lucky due to travel delays), so the ocean was really rough the next day and I got to view some great ocean crashes against the rugged coast. From what I saw and heard others say, the day after a storm is the best time for coastal views. The ocean was calm a few days later and it was a stark contrast from my first day. I did do a drive out to the Schoodic Pennisula - worth a visit, but if you're short on time, you can skip it. I was again lucky in that I was there at low tide and took the walk across to Little Moose Island and walked on the island. [I wasn't able to time low tide for when I was in Bar Harbor for a walk across to Bar Island.] Per a recommendation, I did enjoy a very pretty sunset at the Blue Hill parking lot, just below the Cadillac Mountain peak - but stayed in my car, except to quickly get out and snap a couple of pictures, as it was very cold with a strong wind up there. I also did a quick morning walk around the top of Cadillac Mountain on the paved trails up there - a quick walk as it again cold and windy. And since they were very nice and the rates were reasonable, I'll give a free plug to the place I stayed at in Bar Harbor: The Quimby House Inn. Great Head loop - Acadia National Park Directions: Take the Park Loop Road to Sand Beach parking lot. $10 per week or National Parks Pass Trails: After enjoying the only sand beach on Mount Desert Island, go to the far end of the beach (east) and cross the stream (wet water crossing - easy to cross near the ocean) and take the stone steps heading up. The very rocky trail is a small loop on the head with some great ocean views, especially if the waves are strong and crashing against the rocks. The trail heads up with some rock scrambling (nothing challenging or scary) - follow the blue dashes on the rocks that mark the trail. The one-person width trail then goes above and along the ocean, sometimes in the trees and some times open views. It can get very windy at times, though. From the high spot, the trail heads slightly inland. At the trail junction, hook a left and head up the rocks to another nice view. At the junction, you could also hook a right and do a longer loop (see the park brochure). You may also be able to avoid the wet water crossing by taking Schooner Head Road past the Schooner Head Overlook stop sign and park in the small parking area on the left a short ways after the stop sign. [There is also a small trail from the Schooner Head Overlook that is worth a short visit for the ocean views.] Trail Length: About a mile loop. Area: Rugged coast and woods. Picture When I did the hike: Sunday, October 29, 2006 Recommendation: Definitely - doesn't take long and has great views.
Ocean Trail - Acadia National Park Directions: Take the Park Loop Road to Sand Beach or at almost any point after that for the next 2 miles. $10 per week or National Parks Pass Trails: Don't be lazy and just drive the Park Loop Road between Sand Beach and Otter Point. Leave the car and walk it. It's not a hard hike and you'll see so much more than you would from just the car with short stops. From the Sand Beach parking area, the trail starts behind the restrooms and heads a short up to connect with the true trail - immediately after the Sand Beach parking turnoff is a turnoff to a small parking lot for the start of the Ocean Trail. The gravel trail is fairly level and goes along the ocean and mostly next to the road. The bonus is that there are a number of short sidetracks (some just a couple of steps) that lead to even more spectacular views. There is a little bit of up-and-down at Otter Cliff, but it's worth the extra effort. Trail Length: 2 miles one-way Area: Rugged coast Picture When I did the hike: Sunday, October 29, 2006 Recommendation: Yes. You can do all of it or just part of it. I really liked the section between Thunder Hole and Otter Cliffs.
Ship Harbor Nature Trail - Acadia National Park Directions: On Mount Desert Island, head towards (and through) Southwest Harbor on Hwy 102. Take a left at the junction for 102A and continue for a ways. A short bit after the parking area for Wonderland (another hike in the area, which I didn't do) is the signed parking area for the Ship Harbor trail. Free (no park entrance station). Trails: This looked like an interesting trail on the map so I had to stop and hike it as I headed towards the Bass Harbor Lighthouse. The fairly level (a couple small ups and downs) mostly gravel trail heads along the inlet out to the ocean. Take a right at the 2 trail junctions and go the other way on the way back. The views to the ocean were nice, but not stunning. The ocean views were pretty, but also not stunning. I made a very quick return from the ocean as the sun was setting and I wanted to see the lighthouse before it got dark. [If you do go to the lighthouse, make sure you take a left from the parking lot on the short trail and down the wooden steps to the coast for the best view of the lighthouse (okay, of the light of the lighthouse) - very pretty at sunset]. Trail Length: 1.6 mile loop Area: Trees, good sized water inlet (no buildings or true harbor), and coast When I did the hike: Sunday, October 29, 2006 Recommendation: You can skip this one unless you are in the area (such as staying in the campground or on a lighthouse visit). The views from the Great Head trail and Coast Trail were much better.
Bubble Pond and Jordan Pond loop (Carriage Roads) - Acadia National Park Directions: Take the main park road either towards Jordan Pond (if coming from the north) or past Jordan Pond (if coming from the south) to the Bubble Pond parking lot (or you can start at the Jordan Pond parking lot). Free (no park entrance station). Trails: I definitely had to experience the carriage roads during my visit. You can do so by carriage, horse, bike, or foot - of course I chose foot and selected this mild loop combining several of the branches. The carriage roads are either paved or hard packed dirt (I couldn't tell which and might one or the other at different points) with a small layer of gravel on top. They were built from 1913 to 1940 by the Rockefellers. Obviously they are multi-use trails (there are plenty of hikers only trails in the interior of the park, but I didn't have time to hit any of those during my short visit). From the Bubble Pond parking lot and heading clockwise, the trail immediately heads over a small bridge and continues along side the lake. Take a left at the junction 3 miles later and the trail does then have a climb, but at a gentle grade so you'll hardly notice it. It then heads down and goes next to one of the two gatehouses of the park. After crossing the road, take a right at the first junction and continue straight at the next junction. Take a very short side trip to the top of Jordan Pond for a pretty view of the lake - and a good resting spot. Also a nice place to look back at the small bridge (dated 1930) over the outlet stream. Continue over the bridge (and straight at the next junction) and the trail heads up - again at a gentle grade - and there are plenty of nice view of Jordan Pond along the way. After 2 miles, take a right at the junction and it's 1.8 miles back to Bubble Pond. It's mostly in the woods with only a few views of Eagle Lake along the way. Trail Length: 8.5 miles Area: Small mountains, forest, lakes, carriage roads. (No ocean view) Picture When I did the hike: Tuesday, October 31, 2006 Recommendation: Yes. It's not a true hiking trail, but you should experience the historic carriage roads in some way during your visit to Acadia.
Beehive, Champlain Mt, Gorham Mt - Acadia National Park Directions: Take the Park Loop Road to the Sand Beach parking lot. $10 per week or National Parks Pass Free. Trails: So after a mild morning on the carriage roads, I was ready for some true hiking. Boy, did I find some. This was actually only intented as a Beehive-Gorham loop, but I took a right at the junction for Champlain Mountain and kept going (despite my mind telling me to turn around - it was a time issue) until I reached the peak and made it a loop with a long side spur. The front way up to the Beehive didn't sound like something I wanted to do - part of it involves going up rock faces on metal rungs (shiver). So I took the back way. The trail starts on the inland side of the park road just to the north of the Sand Beach turnoff. The very rocky trail starts up with a mild up - all the trails are marked with blue blazes on the rocks. Take a left at the trail junction and stay on the Bowl trail - if you want to go up the hard way, take a right. After about .8 miles, take a right at the trail junction and start heading a steep up for a short bit which will include some rock scrambling (nothing difficult, but you'll need both hands at times). At the top, take a right until you reach the highest point and enjoy wonderful views from above of the ocean. Head back the way you came and head straight at the junction and it's a short bit ahead to the Bowl - a small lake in the mountains (nothing stunning). Heading around the lake, you come to a junction. Take a right to go to Champlain Mountain, 1.6 miles and some climbing ahead. The trail first goes over the outlet stream for the Bowl (no bridge, easy rock-hoping). From there you can also see the beaver dam (further up on the trail, you can look down on the lake and see the beaver home on a small island in the middle of the lake). The very rocky trail continues up and eventually you'll have to do some more rock scrambling (nothing technical or too difficult, just slow). There are also a number of false peaks - once you reach one, you'll see that there is a ways further to go. But you get great views of Sand Beach and the ocean along the way. There is a marker at the true Champlain Mountain peak, and the views aren't as great as they were further down on the trail. This is also where the shorter (but scarier with metal rungs, like the direct Beehive trail) Precipice Trail peaks (but that trail is also closed at times, as it was when I was there). Head back to the Bowl and then continue down to the junction for the Gorham Mountain trail and take a right. The trail then heads a mild up with not many rock scramblings. It's a flat, rocky peak (again signed) with some more ocean views (and this is where I had a nice sunset). Once heading off the peak, the trail starts to head down (no rock scrambling), with a mild section between the 2 cliff trail junctions. It's in the woods, so there are no good distance views along the way. It eventually comes out at the parking lot for Gorham Mountain. Go through the parking lot and then cross the park road and take a left and head along the ocean trail back to the Sand Beach parking lot. Trail Length + Elevation: About 7.5 miles, about 1100 feet gained 1 mile, 520 feet (back way) to the Beehive .4 miles from the Beehive to the Bowl 1.6 from the Bowl to Champlain Mountain, about 550 feet gained 1.6 miles back to the Bowl 1.1 miles from the Bowl to Gorham Mountain .9 miles Gorham Mountain to Gorham Mountain parking lot, 525 feet loss about 2 miles on coast trail to Sand Beach parking lot Area: Small rocky mountains, forest, great ocean views Picture When I did the hike: Tuesday, October 31, 2006 Recommendation: This was fun. You may want to do just parts of it instead of the whole thing or go up the hard way. Obviously not something to do when it's wet.