The drive from Vermont to Acadia National Park in Mount Desert Island, Maine was long. We made it longer by stopping at the LL Bean flagship store in Freeport, Maine. LL Bean is an enormous complex of 5 stores, open 24 hours! There were giant boots.
We’ve gotten in the bad habit of adding too much into our driving days, and rolling into our new campsites extra late. I think we only arrived at one campground out of four during daylight hours. Even though we are going to so many new places, it is very tempting to stop at attractions on the way. We will have to work on that.
We stayed at Smuggler’s Den campground. It was a bit crowded, but campgrounds near Acadia open in late October are scarce.
If there’s one thing Brian likes taking pictures of more than mushrooms, it’s tide pools. So, we checked the tide charts and made sure to be in a good spot at low tide. There is an island called Bar Island that you can walk out to at low tide on a land bridge surrounded by tidal flats. We walked out to Bar Island and investigated.
One day we set out to do about a 5-6 mile hike. We talked to a ranger at the visitor’s center and he suggested some trails on the west side of the island (the Valley trail to the Long Pond trail to the Great Notch Trail back to the Valley trail). We lost the Valley trail partway through, and went out of the way to get back to the Long Pond trail, adding a mile or two. Long Pond is a lake in a mountain valley, and the trail follows the rocky shoreline.
The part of this trail that veers away from the lake and meets up with Great Notch trail is pretty steep,and we were starting to slow down at this point. By the time we got back to the start of the Valley trail, I had the great idea to wimp out and take a shorter trail back to the parking lot. Unfortunately, the map I was using didn’t show elevation and the trail was shorter because it went up and over Beech Mountain (elevation 840 ft). We realized this pretty early on, but were too stubborn to turn back. This part of the hike was really hard, especially because we were already wiped out starting the West Ridge trail. (Valley vs. Ridge should have tipped me off…) But, 7 hours, 8ish miles, and one accidental mountain summit later, we felt pretty good about the hike we did!
Afterward, Brian cooked 6 lobsters, because he is stubborn, even when exhausted. It was his first time cooking live lobsters, and they were delicious. We ate a few, and dissected a few for lobster mac and cheese the following night. Brian decided to make our time in Maine a personal LobsterFest. He also grilled lobsters, and made lobster rolls with 6 more lobsters a few days later.
The same ranger that suggested our never-ending hike also told us about Anenome Cave, near Schooner Point. We asked about interesting places to go during low tide, and he said the cave is a great place that used to be on park maps, but isn’t anymore. We went and checked it out, and it looked pretty rocky and slippery and difficult to get down there, but Brian talked me into it. We made our way down the slippery rocks and into the cave, with minimal whimpering.
It was cool inside the cave! We took some pictures, and watched the sunset, and had the place to ourselves most of the time. At one point a group of older adults came down, and the man that was leading them into the cave took a pretty nasty fall with one complete backwards somersault. He was okay, but shaken up and didn’t try again to get into the cave. Another gentleman joined us for a few minutes before going back to his friends. (We later read the cave was removed from maps due to too many injuries/rescues).
We went back to the cave the next day during high tide, and the whole scene looked different. The difference between high and low tide was about 15 feet!
Park Loop Road is a beautiful 27 mile loop drive around Mount Desert Island. We drove the loop, and stopped at Thunder Hole and Jordan Pond. At Jordan Pond we popped into the restaurant for tea and popovers! Brian LOVES popovers, and teatime.
On the southwest end of the island is Bass Harbor, and we checked out the lighthouse and natural seawall.
We drove to the top of Cadillac Mountain to see the sunrise, which is the first place in the U.S. to see the sunrise from October to March each year. It was crowded, there was barely a place to park. It was the place to be for a great view, though it was cold and windy! Low 40s feels colder at the top of a mountain.
The sky at night was incredible, there were so many stars. We could see the Milky Way across the entire sky. We took a stab at nighttime photography.
Bar Harbor is a cute town, but pretty touristy. We saw at least two cruise ships in the Harbor on any given day. It was the city on the island that was the least shut down for the season, so we spent a little time there.
On the southeast side of the island there is about a 2 mile stretch of trail that goes along the coast. We walked out and back on this trail from Sand Beach to Otter Point. The coast is rocky, and completely accessible to go walk out on the rocks and peak over the cliffs. No railings or safety measures at all! That made me a little (okay, a lot) nervous.
Acadia National Park is such a beautiful place, I’m so glad we visited. The week went by fast, and we barely got in everything we wanted to do!
Almost forgot! Brian’s Mushroom Corner