Acadia National Park
One of the best parts about living in/around Boston (other than Tom Brady) is the ease of access to the great outdoors. Both of us being graduate students in August, 2014 and having essentially no money, a New England road trip was the only feasible option for a week-long adventure-filled getaway. Eager for both mountains and ocean, the destination was obvious – Maine.
After braving the I-95 summer traffic, we arrived at the first stop on our road trip: Acadia National Park. We pitched our tent and strung up our Eno at Seawall Campground and set off the next morning to explore the park. The first morning consisted of searching (successfully) for seals around the aptly-named Seal Cove on the west side of the island, before driving to the east side to take on the infamous precipice trail.
The 1.8 mile round trip hike takes you up the east face of Champlain Mountain and requires the use of iron rungs built into the rock face in order to scale the cliff and navigate the narrow ledges. With the knowledge that multiple hikers have fallen to their death on this trail, and with Laura being about as sure-footed as a baby giraffe, we were going to take things slow and steady. It was a foggy morning and the trail was fairly wet as we started the ascent. Only about five minutes in, we crossed paths with a fellow hiker on the way down the trail who told us it was too wet and “way too dangerous to climb”. The fact that this guy who looked like he could have been an olympic athlete made us wonder if today just wasn’t our day to climb Precipice. However, as we kept climbing, we concluded that the guy was just a huge sissy and that heeding his warning would be a mistake. We had to climb multiple ladders and traverse several narrow ledges over sheer cliffs, the whole time with panoramic views of the ocean becoming visible through the fog. It was definitely a dangerous hike at times, but it was not terribly difficult, and the views throughout the hike and from the summit were more than rewarding enough for the risk.
We spent the afternoon in Bar Harbor and the evening in Southwest Harbor. Although Bar Harbor is the primary tourist destination on the island, Southwest Harbor, is definitely worth a visit. It is more quaint and has more authentic charm than Bar Harbor. We also stopped at a crosswalk to let a group of dancing senior citizens cross the street to get to one of the local bars…so that was interesting.
We rolled out of the tent before dawn, loaded up the car, and raced to the opposite end of the island to make it in time for the legendary sunrise from Cadillac Mountain. The road leading to the peak of Cadillac was lined with parked cars, but we managed to find a convenient spot with time to spare. We will refrain from attempting to describe the scene that followed. The pictures below should provide some sense of how incredible it was, but like most things, pictures don’t quite do it justice.
Acadia was extremely beautiful and should definitely be a part of anyone’s trip to Maine. Since it was part of a week-long road trip, our time constraints prevented us from taking full advantage of everything the park has to offer. We easily could have spent a full week in and around the park and we will definitely be back again eventually.
Next Stop: The Bold Coast
Where to Stay: Seawall Campground