In late September every few years, Mike and I visit Acadia National Park and stay in Bar Harbor. Acadia National Park, located on Mount Desert Island, is a 6½ hour drive from Rhode Island. We spend the entire first day winding our way up Rt. 95 past Portland and then jump off and enjoy the leisurely drive along scenic Rt. 1 through old Maine towns like Bath, Camden, Wiscasset, and Rockland.
Six years ago, on our first trip to Acadia, we bought the Acadia Tour CD, so the first thing we do, after visiting the Hulls Cove Visitor Center is travel the Park Loop Road. This audio tour of 27 miles takes us over winding roads along the coast and through forests. Along the way are overlooks, trails, beautifully constructed stone bridges and iconic sites like Thunder Hole, where the rock formation is such that at high tide as the water comes rushing into the naturally formed inlet, the water can burst into the air with a roar that sounds like thunder, hence its name. Rugosa roses grow in abundance here, and while the bushes might still offer a bloom or two in late September, there are always beautiful red rose hips to see.
I think my favorite stop is Sand Beach. This is a small beach, open to sunbathers and swimmers who are hardy enough to swim in the cold ocean waters that rarely reach more than 55°. On an extremely warm day a few years ago, I went in only as far as my ankles. On this trip we walked along the packed sand at the high water mark to the rocks at the further edge of the beach and discovered an arch that someone had built from beach stones suspended between two large boulders.
We always make sure to have time for lunch at the Jordan Pond House, well-known for its warm popovers served with delicious strawberry jam and other homemade treats. When we discovered that their seafood chowder was gluten-free, Mike always orders a bowl of this creamy chowder packed with fresh shrimp, clams, fish and diced potatoes served with gluten free rolls. Later, we hiked the Pond Trail for the first time, a 3.3 mile trail that hugged the edge of Jordan Pond, taking us over boulders and along a long wooden platform that was constructed to preserve the delicate fauna growing underfoot.
We always end our visit to Acadia by driving the 3.5 miles to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the East Coast where, on a clear day, you can see views of Bar Harbor and Frenchman Bay. We like to walk around the summit of the mountain and catch the 360-degree views. The summit is 1,530 feet high and it’s usually windy and cold, even on a nice day, so we always pack fleece or warm jackets.
There’s so much to see and do at Acadia, a real jewel of a National Park as well as the only National Park in the Northeast.