Staying active at Acadia

Bar Harbor, Maine

It was a typical Maine morning, meaning cool temperatures and some light fog. Regardless, we couldn’t let weather derail our ambitious plans to take on Acadia National Park.

Acadia is the only national park in New England and the first nationally declared park east of the Mississippi. In all of my camp summers in Maine, I’ve never made it up here. The prospect of hiking just never really appealed to me (indeed, beyond playing basketball and drinking Dr. Pepper’s, little did). Guess I’ve matured a little bit since then.

We stopped by Acadia Bike in Bar Harbor to pick up our mountain bikes before hopping onto a L.L. Bean sponsored, propane-powered shuttle bus. It dropped us off just inside the park, on the north side of Eagle Lake. From this point, there were 45-miles of carriage roads — basically, well maintained gravel roads — to explore. The roads were the gift of John D. Rockefeller, who back in the day rode around here like a baller in a horse-drawn carriage.

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The roads were largely empty and offered sweeping views of the lake and the densely forested surrounding.

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After about 12 miles, we were met with some showers and found our way to the Jordan Pond House for a snack of freshly baked popovers (not as good as BLT but still good) and lobster quiche.

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We biked back to Bar Harbor, getting somewhat lost in the process, and returned the bikes as the sky cleared and sun appeared. Hopping in the car, we drove back to the park and reached the summit of Cadillac Mountain — at 1,528 feet, it’s the highest peak on the Atlantic between Canada and Brazil. It is also the first place on U.S. soil to see the morning sun. The parking lot was kind of a madhouse but we got away from the crowds and took in the views.

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Next, we joined the masses on Park Loop Road, which is said to be the premier attraction. This 20-mile stretch of pavement closely follows the rocky shoreline. Spruce and fir trees sit on dark granite ledges above the crashing white surf below. During the summer, the right lane of the one way road is closed for parking. After finding some shade, we set out on a hike, passing white sandy beaches, quiet coves, smooth and plentiful rocks and lonely ponds.

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At the end of Park Loop, we exited Acadia and stopped in quiet Northeast Harbor, with its sailboats and colorful fishing buoys.

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Dinner was at Fore Street, which we agreed is one of our favorite restaurants in the country. The food is all obscenely fresh and in-season; the open-kitchen in the middle of the restaurant is a spectacle; and there’s a vegetable closet. A closet! For vegetables. What.

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But perhaps the night’s highlight was dessert: a molten bittersweet chocolate torte with a vanilla bean milkshake.

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What a way to end a weekend.

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Comments

  1. That milkshake was amazing, so were the views atop Cadillac 🙂

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