A few weekends ago we made our first trip to hike Acadia. With only Saturday and Sunday to explore we jam-packed our schedule. Here is how it went…
Drive in late, pitch your tent, and get some shut-eye. We live close enough that we drove up early Saturday morning.
Drive over the bridge onto the island and stay on the eastern side of Route 3/Bar Harbor Road. First stop at Hull’s Cove Visitor Center (opens at 8/8:30 depending on time of the year) to pick up a map. This is also a good starting point to catch the Park Loop Road. Follow along the Park Loop Road as it will take you to all the main attractions.
Next, stop at the Precipice Trail. If it’s open hike it! If you get the opportunity let us know what it’s like in the comments below. Unfortunately, it was closed when we were there. If it’s the same case for you we still recommend stopping to look for the Falcons nesting. If you are lucky a park ranger will be out there with a monocular to look at the birds up close.
Then head over to Sand Beach. Head down to the water and dip your toes in if you need a cool down. Walk east along the beach to where Beehive Lagoon meets the sand and head onto Great Head Trail (1.4 mi/2.2 km). This looped hike goes up the beach cliffs and around the peninsula. Most has tree covering, however at the top you will be standing on beautiful exposed cliffs. This is a beautiful place to dangle your feet over the edge and lookout at the ocean. Finish the loop and head back to your car.
Alternative: If you want something a little more flat and trafficked try the Ocean Path Trailhead (2 mi/3.2 km one-way). It’s a walking path that runs to Otter Point from Sand Beach.
The Beehive Trail (1.3 mi/2 km) is just a minutes drive from Sand Beach. This hike was our personal favorite! This trail requires climbing up rocks using iron rungs. It is steep and strenuous, but ohhh so fun. Scare factor? It isn’t so bad. Stacey is scared of heights and she had no problem. The views are spectacular and grow in beauty as you climb.
After head to Thunder Hole where a naturally formed space in the rocks causes thunder sounds when slammed with waves. If you are lucky enough to see it the water can shoot as high as 40 feet when the wave hits right. Definitely worth a quick look.
At this point head over to Bass Harbor Headlight if you are interested. Our honest opinion is it’s not worth the 40 minute drive. If you are staying and Seawall Campground or somewhere near it then take a gander. If not pass.
Lastly, head over to your campsite, enjoy a campfire, and go to bed early.
Check when sunrise is going to be and GET UP! But not at sunrise. You want to be on top of Cadillac Mountain 30 minutes before sunrise. Drive to the top, park, and find a nice spot to sit and watch daybreak. As soon as sunrise hits floods of people leave, and within 25 minutes the place becomes dead silent. We suggest bringing your breakfast and staying up there for a while. Not only will you avoid the traffic going down the mountain, but you can enjoy the beauty in peace.
TIP: If you don’t want to stay around and enjoy the silence at the top then don’t park in the lot. When coming up circle the lot and exit as if going back down the mountain. Approximately 200 feet from the top park on the right, but make sure you are as far in the dirt as possible. Doing this will help prevent you getting stuck in the lot.
Head over to the south end of Jordan Pond to the parking lot. From here you can hike the Penobscot Trail (approx. 3.6 mi/5.7 km). There are multiple ways to do this hike. We chose this way because it was a loop. We didn’t run into another human except for the Carriage Road which was nice.
This is our Penobscot Trail progression: from boat launch stay left along Jordan Pond Path/Nature Trail → left on Carriage Road only for a couple minutes → right onto Spring Trail → right onto Penobscot Mountain Trail → continue past the summit of Penobscot until you hit Deer Brook Trail turn right → right on carriage road → switch onto Jordan Pond Path once your back near the water to get to your car.
Alternative: If it’s open try taking Deer Brook Trail to Jordan Cliffs trail rather than the Carriage trail. It was less developed although not as flat.
Lastly head to Bubble Rock/South Bubble Trail (1 mi/ 1.6 km) and enjoy the short trip to the top. If you are lucky you’ll get to catch a glimpse of rock climbers scaling the mountain. If not you still can take a cliché picture with Bubble Rock.
And at the end of what will feel like a really long day have a safe and relaxed drive home!
FYI: Due to Peregrine Falcons nesting during certain seasons of the year the Precipice Trail and Jordan Cliffs are closed. To find out about all closures check Acadia’s official page.