Ten Hours in Acadia National Park!
What up Road Trip Warriors!? I wanted to share what you can experience while spending a day at one of the most scenic locations in Maine, Acadia National Park. The park offers rocky cliffs, stunning beaches, daring hikes, and is located about fifteen minutes away from Bar Harbor! Here is what you can accomplish in ten hours at one of America’s coolest national parks!
7:30 AM: Park Loop Road and Sand Beach
I left Hancock, Maine where we were staying around 7:30 in the morning and made the 45 minute commute to Acadia National Park. I entered the park around 8:15 AM and turned left onto Park Loop Road. I parked in the large lot for Sand Beach and got all my hiking gear together.
The parking lot for Sand Beach provides access not only to the beach, but the Beehive Trail is across the road. From the lot, you will be able to see the steep rock faces you’ll be climbing…if you have the courage to grasp the iron rungs and can handle the exposure…but I recommend exploring Sand Beach while parked in this lot. It is a great area to chill out and there are bathrooms located near the parking lot. I walked along the beach for twenty minutes because nothing beats that fresh ocean air.
9:00 AM: THE BEEHIVE TRAIL
Let me preface this subsection of this post by saying this trail is not for the faint of heart. What it lacks in length, it makes up for in exposure. You’ll essentially be climbing vertically up iron rungs and boulders with sheer drops only a few feet away. It is a lot of fun and I LOVE exposure, but if heights bother you, there is a trail that takes you up to Beehive Summit with much less exposure.
It only took about 45 minutes to reach the summit of Beehive and the scenes were exceptional. You get commanding views of Sand Beach, the islands in the Atlantic, and the surrounding mountains! If you do anything in Acadia, try to get to the summit of Beehive. The fun to be had and the surrounding landscape is difficult to put into words.
10:50 AM: Thunder-hole
You can’t visit Acadia without visiting Thunder-Hole. It got it’s name from the thundering noise it makes when waves rush into a small inlet and water and air gets rushed out! There are days when the water may spout up to forty feet high! Unfortunately, the ocean was pretty calm when we visited this spectacle. It made some noise, and it was still cool to see it, but water did not spout forty feet high
The parking lot for Thunder Hole is on the right side of the road. There is a small gift shop that offers stickers, key chains, coffee mugs, and more. Across the road and down some stairs is where you will be able to find Thunder Hole!
11:20 AM: Otter Cove
While driving along Park Loop Road, I had to stop at Otter Cove. I Initially did not even know it was called that, but I was just drawn to the beach and the stone bridge in the near distance. I parked along the right side of the road and first ventured down to the body of water that was on the right side of where I parked. The color of the water was a mix of green and blue with mountains looming in the distance. I took some photos here before walking across the street to the beach.
The beach located along the left side of the road is stunning. It is small, but the water is calm with very little waves. There are stones perfect for rock-skipping and the stone bridge on the far end of the beach enhances it’s aesthetic. I spent a good half hour on this beach in good company, skipping rocks and enjoying the sunny day.
12:15 PM: Lunch in Bar Harbor
After roaming around the park for four hours and the heat starting to take a toll on our energy, we decided to look for food. There is a restaurant in the park located by Jordan Pond, but it was packed. With Bar Harbor being so close, I figured we would have a great shot at finding a quick meal there.
Bar Harbor has so much to do and see. There are countless stores with Maine items, clothes, ice cream stores, and restaurants. We ended up going to the Independent Cafe which had coffee, sandwiches, wraps, and more. I ordered the hummus wrap and it was exceptional. It was the sriracha sauce that completed the wrap. After eating here we walked in some stores and did some window shopping.
Bar Harbor had some really cool stores with unique items. One store, In the Woods, had all items made out of wood. Don’t take my word for it, but from my memory all of the wood was from Maine! Other stores had model boats, nautical items, and souvenirs.
1:30 PM: Accidentally Leaving the Park, and Taking Photos of Boats and Beach-houses
The last thing that I wanted to do was hike Cadillac Mountain. You can drive to the summit, but I felt like it would be cheating to do that before I actually hiked it. In an effort to find the North Ridge Trail, I ended up off of Park Loop Road and exiting the park momentarily. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise because there was a bay filled with dozens of boats and sailboats. There were also some beautiful beach-houses. The scene was picturesque and was worth the stop. Keep an eye out for those brief moments where a mistake can be turned into a positive scenario!
2:30 PM: Jordan Pond
On our way to the North Ridge Trail to hike Cadillac Mountain, I made a last effort to visit Jordan Pond. The parking lot was usually full, but I found a spot and I was able to get some shots of the bubbles across the pond. The pond is absolutely stunning with the Bubbles on the far end of the pond and lush green trees around the perimeter.
There is a trail that loops around the pond and it is 3.5 miles long. I didn’t go on this trail, but I am sure seeing the pond in its entirety is well worth it.
3:15 PM: Cadillac Mountain Hike (North Ridge Trail)
At 3:15 PM, we parked at the trailhead for the North Ridge Trail up to Cadillac Mountain. This trailhead is located .2 miles down the Park Loop Road right after it becomes a two-lane, one way road. There is a crosswalk and a pullout for parking on the left side of the road which is opposite the trailhead.
I’ll have a more detailed post about hiking Cadillac Mountain, but here is a short summary of the North Ridge Trail…
- Distance: 2.2 miles to the summit, 4.4 miles round trip
- Difficulty: Moderate. Rocky in some spots, no bouldering/scrambling, incline gets steeper on the rock face towards the summit
- Hiking Time: 1.25 – 1.5 hours to summit. 1 – 1.25 hours to get back to car. This depends on level of fitness and how many breaks you take.
- Photo opportunities: There are some great outlooks of Bar Harbor along the hike. The summit offers commanding views of Bar Harbor, islands in the area, and the Atlantic.
- Summit: There are bathrooms on the summit, a gift shop, signs about Cadillac Mountain, and a parking lot because you can also drive to the top of this mountain
I do not suggest hiking this when there is an approaching thunderstorm like I decided to do. As brilliant as it is to view a storm over the ocean from a mountain, it is not so brilliant when the storm heads in your direction. As soon as we hit the summit, it rained so hard on us that it felt like hail. I took a short video of myself, but we started to make our way down the mountain in the storm. Within fifteen minutes, the sun was back out and we witnessed multiple rainbows.
(Although the quality of this photo is not up to the standards of the others, I thought the storm over Bar Harbor was wild.)
Since I did not capture any photos on the summit on the day we hiked Cadillac, I drove to the summit the next day and took hundreds of pictures. I will share those in Part 2 of my Acadia trip.
In summary, you can see a lot in Acadia National Park if you dedicate your day to it. We hiked two mountains, visited Jordan Pond, saw Thunder-hole, had lunch in Bar Harbor, took photos of a bay, and skipped rocks at Otter Cove.
Now, you don’t have to do a lot in one day. You could dedicate the day to hanging at Sand Beach or Otter Cove. You could hang out in Bar Harbor shopping and eating. There are also plenty of other hikes in Acadia that can be done. I just wanted to share that there are opportunities to accomplish a lot in this beautiful park with limited time.
Thank you to those that take the time to read these posts. I do hope they are helpful and that you find them interesting. I also hope that you enjoy the pictures. I have been practicing my landscape photography when I am not busy with work. If you enjoyed this post, share it, hit the like button, and hit that follow button as well! Feel free to leave a comment too! Adventure hard my friends!