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Birthday at Acadia National Park


Heck of a Birthday

Our first of MANY National Park trips of 2023! Before we do our roadtrip to Washington state to move to our new home in Seattle, I wanted to go to Acadia National Park. I'm not much of a "thing person" and don't have a lot of material possessions. I have my laptop and my music gear. That's all I need. 

I've never been to Maine, or New England proper besides Boston, so I wanted to visit before moving house all the way to west coast! And so the deed was done. Flights booked. Hotel booked.

 It's one of the highest acclaimed National Parks on the entire Eastern region so I HAD to go. We flew in from PA and landed in Portland, ME and spent the rest of the afternoon there, as well as Bissell Brothers brewing. The next morning we drove the three hours to Bar Harbor where we stayed at the Atlantic Eyrie Lodge for several nights. It was super affordable and a good choice for us, as they had a great free breakfast which was perfect for loading up before tackling some hikes and sights for the day. The lodge also had some great views of Mt. Desert Narrows / Frenchman Bay as well as Bar Island and the famous Bar itself. 


Coffee on the balcony of Atlantic Eyrie Bar Habor
Coffee on he balcony of this beautiful morning. Bar Island in the background. You can see the sand bar starting to form as low tides pulls in. A cruise ship is docked off to the center left.

First Impressions

I had no idea why it was called Bar Harbor before we visited the area, but quickly realized it is related to the sand bar that cyclically connects Bar Harbor to Bar Island! I do mean, cyclically! One can only visit Bar Island at low tide, as the sand bar is completely submerged with water during high tides! It is imperative that you know the tide times so you don't get inadvertently stranded on the island for several hours until the next low tide! So cool! 

Bar Island Dont Get Stranded at High Tide
I told you! Seriously! Don't get stranded on Bar Island!

 From our balcony at Atlantic Eyrie we could sip a morning coffee and watch the development of the bar and make a run downtown to walk across it! Once it just barely started to show itself, we just HAD to hop in our rental and park downtown to get a chance to cross the bar. It was super cool, and so was Bar Island. 

Thankfully, Atlantic Eyrie and Bar Harbor is literally MINUTES from the entrance of Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island, which is where 90% of the park, along with Bar Harbor is located. Did you know Desert in this case is pronounced closer to the word DESSERT than the word DESERT as it has French roots? Mt. Dessert Island just sounds...delicious. Which it is...just...visually delicious. 

Park Loop Road / Ocean Path Trail 

Sand Beach Acadia NP
Sand Beach! Definitely not the best beach weather, it was in the mid-50s and off and on raining this day. In the distance you can see parts of where the Great Head trail is.

Our first day we arrived on Mt. Desert Island we did some general exploring of the National Park along the Park Loop Road. Ocean Path trail right off of Park Loop Road was a good introduction to the sights to be had.


Cliffs at Acadia NP
Don't look down, and don't fall off these rock cliffs!

 It starts around Sand Beach and ends shortly after Otter Point Overlook with sights of Otter Cove. We enjoyed straying from the path and hobbling over the jagged rocks along the trail. 


Trees and coast Acadia
I love the trees out here

I'd be happy with just seeing everything we saw from this path! Coastal Maine is insane! 

Acadia Angry Waters
The sea was angry that day my friends


We also went to Thunder Hole along the Ocean Path which is a 'must do' at Acadia. Waves crash into an erosion carved rock inlet. Depending on the tides and the surf it will crash into the rocks just right making a thunderous roaring sound. We heard some decent ones but never heard any thunderous sounds. Oh well, according to people there, it doesn't always work out. 

Jagged Coastline Acadia NP
Jagged Little Coast

Playing on the rocks at Acadia
Playing on the rocks at Acadia

Jordan Pond / Stream Path

We picked another easy hike afterwards and did Jordan Stream Path. The beginning of the trail has a great view of The Bubbles over Jordan Pond!

The Bubbles at Acadia over Jordan Pond
There's the bubbles in the background!

I'm not sure if I mentioned this, but I am TERRIFIED of heights so a lot of the hikes here were off limits for me especially Beehive. I'm sure it's an awesome hike, but anything with that much open exposure to heights....yeah no way. I'm working on it though... I won't give up. 

Jordan Stream Path Bridge
Two bridges!

Jordan Stream Path Acadia
Rushing Stream

After that hike it was already getting fairly late and we were tired from our early morning of driving in the Portland, ME so I finished the Park Loop enjoying the sights along the way. We got back to Bar Harbor and went to Side Street Cafe for some eats before capping off the night. 

Sunset Bar Harbor
And a nice sunset treat from our balcony


Bar Island

Sand Bar Bar Island
Well here it is. The elusive sand bar connecting Bar Island to Bar Harbor. People actually drive their vehicles out here sometimes. This isn't advised HAVE been caught on the bar at high tide. Goodbye car?

When we woke up the next morning we had some delicious breakfast and went back up the room with an extra coffee to get ready for the day. While sitting out on the balcony we saw the sand bar starting to form to connect Bar Harbor with Bar Island.

View from the top of the Bar Island Hill
View from the 'top' of Bar Island. You can see Bar Harbor up here.


 Low tide was just about starting. We decided to take a few hours out of the day to explore the sand bar and Bar Island because...why not? What an insanely unique experience. Bar Island is actually managed by the National Park Service and is now part of Acadia National Park so even more of a reason to go! Make sure you know your tides! 


Googly Eye Rock
Well hello there!

Nowadays it is very easy to know when low tide and high tide is, but it's essential to keep it in mind. If you lose track of time. YOU WILL get stranded on the island!


Bar Island Low Tide
Go explore! In a few hours this will all be underwater again!


Great Head

Sand Beach -- Beehive
Walking along Sand Beach to get to the Great Head Trailhead. The Beehive is in the background.

The Great Head trail was probably my favorite hike we did on the trip. Like I said, I'm TERRIFIED of heights. This provided a great hike, with some definite elevation, some exposure to heights, but just enough, and not too much to make my knees turn into spaghetti and have my brain shutdown. 

great head trail -- sand beach below
Hey look, Sand Beach. Weren't we just down there?


I will say, there was a large rock face that you had to climb up with almost nothing but exposure to your back. I powered through it, and had to crawl for a short period to make it, but I made it. I'm not ashamed to admit that. Normal people, including my GF would have no trouble hiking this, but I think I did well all things considered, LOL.

Steep rock faces acadia NP
This wasn't even the steepest rock face...head on up to continue the trail..


There were several more little rock scrambles to do which were quite fun, all with rewarding ocean and cliff views. I love those trees that grow along this rocky coastline as well. So cool. 

Beehive from Great Head
There's the Beehive again as we climb higher!

great Head views
Views from the trail


Rock piles Great head acadia
Piles of rocks


views for miles great head acadia
Okay okay last one

Jordan Pond House

There's a good chance I'll never get back to Acadia after this trip so we tried to be very diverse in our hikes an experiences. One of the classic historic things to do is to grab a popover with jam and tea at the Jordan Pond House.  That's all we wanted...actually I planned on getting a beer...although I do love tea as well. We waited FOREVER. For late May, it was SO busy. We literally probably waited an hour. Not even to eat a full lunch. 

Jordan Pond House Graffiti
Yeah sorry didn't get any pictures of the Pond House. Only this graffiti in the bathroom.....


Was it worth it? Not really. But the popovers were good. And I was able to grab Lunch IPA by Maine Beer Co. so it all worked out in the end. We ended up sharing a Mac and Cheese too, not that we planned on getting anything else, but we waited so long it felt like we should load up on more food. Service was pretty terrible as well. I don't blame the servers. I never blame the workers. I blame management. They seemed super understaffed. 

Rest of the Night

We wrapped up the night by going to Lompoc Cafe in Bar Harbor. I got a delicious hot honey fried chicken sandwich and a really great IPA by Belleflower Brewing out of Portland, ME! I overheard some workers talking about how bad 2023 was going to be while we were here. They were mentioning that Bar Harbor was insanely packed with tourists and it wasn't even peak season yet. I hope they survived the season in one piece.

Barn Hex Belleflower
Barn Hex IPA

Cadillac Mountain 

Eagle Lake heading to Cadillac Mtn
A view of Eagle Lake from Cadillac Summit Road

 The next morning we woke up at 4am to watch the sunrise at Cadillac Mountain, Acadia's highest peak at a little over 1500 feet. Wait. No we didn't. The only time I see the sunrise is MAYBE in the winter. I value my sleep. We got to the top of Cadillac Mountain at a reasonable 0930 in the morning well after the sunrise, and well after my first coffee. But if you're not like me, go see the sunrise. It's one of the "things to do" at Acadia and is one of the first places in the US to see the sunrise!
Cadillac Mountain ACADIA
Good morning from the top of Cadillac Mountain!

However, if you really wanted to see the sunrise up here, you could, and there's a little gift store up top that has drip coffee for your sunrise energy benefits. While you can hike all the way up, we chose to drive. You can drive all the way up Cadillac Mountain and enjoy the summit, even those with limited mobility which is nice! Once I rid myself of my fear of heights, especially exposed heights, it would be a fun hike to come back and try. 

Word of warning, you need a vehicle reservation for Cadillac Mountain from May to October. You will not be allowed on Cadillac Summit Road without one. While in line to drive up, we saw numerous people get turned away. People who thought that having a ticket or pass into the park was enough. Nope, gotta reserve your spot. This is becoming increasingly more common as National Parks get busier and busier. I'm personally fine with it. Humans are the number one cause of destruction in national park areas.

Day Mountain


View from Day Mountain
View from Day Mountain

This was a nice quick less than 2 mile hike with some cool views!

Anemone Cave 

As I may have mentioned...I love finding the little lesser known, unique, and cool things to do at parks, that isn't just a straight up grueling hike. Anemone Cave was just that. It's not really advertised by the national park as a trail, or something you can do, but I found it on AllTrails. It really can only be accessed at low tide, otherwise it would be too filled with water and too dangerous with the crashing waves. So remember your tide charts again, just like Bar Island!
Inside anemone cave ACADIA NP
We made it inside the cave! We sat and just hung out for a bit until other people showed up. Those rocks in there....SUPER slippery.

The cave is known for its unique geological and biological features, including the presence of sea anemones and other marine life in tide pools within the cave. It offers an experience of observing the destructive power of the sea along Acadia's shore. Visitors can witness the impact of waves that have bored into the cliff over time, creating a dramatic natural space.
Inside Anemone Cave
Look at that awesome pink color on the rocks.

We parked at the little parking area at Schooner Head Overlook at followed the trail for a bit. Many people go looking for the cave but don't find it. It is fairly difficult, but you do have to do a decent scramble down rocks to the shoreline. It was a pretty decent scramble up and down but totally doable. Wear good shoes, because those rocks and the cave itself is super slippery. I almost fell a few times in the cave.  It was a super cool experience though! Don't stay too long and trap yourself in there at high tide. People have died in this area. 

Bass Harbor Head Light 

 How could we not go to a lighthouse?? Parking is extremely limited and you can't park on the sides of the access road. We had to leave and come back to park, but we made it. It's a short little hike over and down some rocks to see the lighthouse. You can't go inside, but its a cool historical sight nonetheless!

Bass Harbor Head Light

From there we headed over to the Ship Harbor Trail which was right down the road. 

Ship Harbor Trail

The Ship Harbor Trail in Acadia National Park is a tranquil and scenic 1.3-mile loop trail, perfect for families and casual hikers. It takes you through a lush forest, offering a peaceful woodland experience and showcasing the area's diverse plant life. 
Ship Harbor Trail ACadia

The trail eventually leads to a rugged coastline with beautiful ocean views, where you can enjoy the fresh sea breeze (and boy did we) and maybe spot some wildlife. A highlight of the trail is the tidal pools along the shore at low tide, rich with marine life, providing an engaging and educational experience, especially for children. This easy-to-navigate trail is a wonderful way to experience Maine's coastal and forest landscapes together in a trail. 
Ship Harbor Trail Acadia

 Some guy on the trail from like...Vermont complimented me on my Other Half Brewing shirt so that was nice.

Ship Harbor

From there we headed to Flying Mountain to do the Flying Mountain Trail

Flying Mountain / Valley Cove

Top of Flying Mtn ACADIA
Cool views from the top of Flying Mountain!

Our last hike of the day was the Flying Mountain Trail, a very modest mountain climb with some cool views of the water and landscapes below. You can out and back the trail or you can opt for a slightly longer hike and do a loop by combining with the Valley Cove Trail. We did this option because it took us down to the shore of Valley Cove for some cool sights as well! 
Valley Cove ACADIA
Valley Cove shoreline

 The walk back from the cove along the Valley Cove trail is forested and fairly uneventful. And that wraps up our hiking on Mt. Desert Island. 95% of the National Park is on Mt. Desert Island, but a small part is actually across the water to the east on the Schoodic Peninsula. We decided to head over there for our last (half) day in the area. 

Schoodic Peninsula

Our last full day in Maine and last HALF day at Acadia :(. It's been such an awesome and beautiful adventure, and what a birthday! From Bar Harbor the Schoodic Peninsula is roughly an hour and 15 minutes away (47 miles). We spent the drive admiring the sights, occasionally stopping to look at the sights along the way. 
Schoodic Point Waves Coast
Waves pounding the rocks at Schoodic Point


We spent a decent amount of time at Schoodic Point at the end of the peninsula. There's a lot of jagged rocks to climb along and view the coastal sights. It's generally less busy over here too which is nice. I feel like the waves along the coastline were a bit more violent over here too which made for a good show. We got hit by a few of the splashes!
Splashed by waves at acadia
Woops! Hit by waves


From there we did the Schoodic Head Trail. Our last trail at Acadia. We parked in a little circle parking lot off of Schoodic Loop Road. We then had to take the Alder Trail to get to the Schoodic Head Trail. The Alder Trail was fine... you walk along a grass path and then a very dense tree root section for a while. You get to Ranger Cabin Road which is gravel and walk a short distance then meet up with The Schoodic Head Trail. 
Schoodic Head Trail markers


It was a fun and beautiful hike, with a lot of fairly steep rock faces to climb up to get to the top. But that's just about all of Acadia isn't it. It was a great last hike to cap off the week. 
Schoodic Head views
Views almighty!

Schoodic Head

Acadia Sheer Rock faces
Yeah..more rock faces to climb up along the way!

Now we have to head back to Portland. But first..... a trip to Maine Beer Company. 

Maine Beer Company

No it's not near Acadia or Bar Harbor but it was a MUST stop on our way back from Acadia. This goes against everything this site is about but...we sat...inside. It was around 95 degrees out. Sorry guys. That just ain't comfortable.

Maine Beer Company -- Dinner DIPA
Dinner for Dinner. Finally got my hands on MBC's Dinner DIPA. Lunch is good. Dinner is great.

And then we went back to the hotel and woke up in the morning for our flight back to PA. What a fun time. We will take several more short trips this early summer but our next BIG trip.... we're moving to Washington. Check out the PA - WA road trip.


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