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Maine’s Acadia National Park has hundreds of trails for hikers and many scenic attractions. A national treasure, its 47,000 acres are primarily located on Mount Desert Island, and many travelers use the bayside town of Bar Harbor as a gateway to the park. Here are 10 must-do activities while in Acadia National Park.
You can’t go to Acadia National Park and not bike along the historic carriage roads. Cyclists, hikers and horses all take advantage of the 45 miles (72.4 kilometers) of roads for exercise. John D Rockefeller Jr financed and directed the construction of these roads on the island for public use.
Park Loop Road offers a great overview of Acadia National Park. The 27-mile (43.4-kilometer) road leads you around the park, connecting the rocky coast to the mountains, forest and lakes. Most of the road is one-way; you can pick it up at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center.
Cadillac Mountain is mainly pink granite, making it not just the highest mountain on Mount Desert Island but also the most beautiful. At 1,530 feet (466.3 meters), it’s the tallest point along the North Atlantic seaboard. (From October 7 through March 6 every year, it’s the first place to see the sunrise!) You can follow Park Loop Road up 3.5mi (5.6km) to reach the top.
Sand Beach is a small area measuring 290 yards (265m) long. What it lacks in length, it makes up for in beauty. Marvel at the rocky coast and enjoy a day out in the sun swimming in the cool water. Note: It doesn’t get higher than 55F (12.7C) in the summer.
Thunder Hole is a naturally formed inlet that makes a deep thunderous sound when a large wave rolls in. Why? A small cavern formed just below the surface of the water, and when air enters as the wave rolls in, a loud sound emits. The resulting splash can go as high as 40ft (36.5m) into the air! (Access to the Thunder Hole is off of Park Loop Road.)
Stop by the beautiful Jordan Pond to eat outside at the Jordan Pond House Restaurant. The popovers are to die for and are beloved by everyone who tries them. It’s a great way to treat yourself after a long bike ride on the carriage roads.
Take a short ride to the peaceful, oceanfront Lamoine State Park if you’re looking to escape the crowds on Mount Desert Island. Much less crowded, there’s still plenty to do, such as fishing, kayaking or camping.
Though Cadillac Mountain may be taller, the Precipice Trail on Champlain Mountain is tougher. The strenuous trail is well known by experienced hikers as it is an exposed 1,000-foot (304.8-meter) climb and not for those scared of heights. If you’re looking for something a little less challenging, there are Park Naturalists leading walks at the base of the trail to learn more about the wildlife, including the falcons that make their home here.
Otter Cliff is one of the most stunning sights to see in Acadia. At 110ft (33.5m) high, the cliff provides spectacular views. Take pictures off the rocks, but be cautious as splashing water can make the area slippery.
The beautiful Asticou Azalea Garden was designed similarly to a Japanese stroll garden. Walk around the Asticou Pond, and take in the beauty of azaleas in bloom, or spend the day hiking and biking.