Acadia National Park

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A view of the Bubbles from Jordan Pond House.  

A few weeks ago, we took a family trip to Acadia National Park.  My husband and I first visited Acadia just last year, when we left the kids behind to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.  We must have shared too many great stories, because when we began to plan a summer trip with the kids for this year, they eagerly requested that we travel to Acadia as a family.  As we loved our time there last year, we happily agreed.

I could probably write a book about my love for Acadia, even after just two trips, but in the interest of keeping you all as readers, I’ll try to be fairly concise.  Acadia is a fantastic spot for active families, couples, and individuals.  There is so much to do there that the hardest part is trying to fit it all in.  We had four full days up there and we were blessed with beautiful weather, so we made the most of our time.  As my kids are still mastering their bikes without training wheels, we stuck to hiking, but in the future, I hope to return to hit up the numerous carriage roads.

Our Stay:  We stayed at Acadia Cottages in Southwest Harbor, which is on the west side (quiet side) of Mount Desert Island.  For us, it was a perfect spot.  We had a one-bedroom cottage, which gave us just enough space to not trip over one another the whole trip.  We had a small kitchen with a full fridge, a stove top, and a sink, which allowed us to eat most of our meals in our room.  That perk alone was worth the stay.  We found our accommodations to be clean and welcoming, and we appreciated the quiet and peaceful setting.  While on the quieter side of the island, we were still only a 15-20 minute drive from most spots in the park, so it was quite convenient.

Our Favorite Activities:  We spent almost all of our time hiking.  If you are a regular reader, you know that the kids and I have hiked quite a bit this summer, but hiking trails in southeast Pennsylvania is quite different from hiking up the mountains in Maine.  I wasn’t sure what kind of stamina they would have.  It turns out I had nothing to worry about.  They exceeded all expectations, summiting 13 peaks and covering 31 miles in our four days there.  We hit many of the most popular spots, along with a few lesser known trails.  Among our favorite activities:

  • Watching the sun rise from the pebble beach along the Ocean Path.  In addition to a beautiful, peaceful start to the day, we also took advantage of the perfect light for early morning photos.

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  • Gathering wild blueberries along the mountain side.  My son claimed that the berry bushes were “snack stops” and they provided the perfect break when we needed a breather.  We even managed to gather enough to enjoy on the car ride home.  Sargeant, Cadillac, and Dorr Mountains were our favorite places to find berries.

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  • Hiking along the little known “Jordan Stream Path.”  Starting from Jordan Pond House, we went along this quiet path for about 3/4 of a mile until we reached the gorgeous Cobblestone Bridge.  The path followed the stream and even on such a busy day, we didn’t see another soul.  What a great find!

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  • Enjoying the delight of fresh popovers and jam on the lawn of Jordan Pond House.
  • Getting blown away (literally and metaphorically) by the view from the top of North Bubble – a gorgeous clear view of the entire Jordan Pond.

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  • Savoring the fantastic triple berry pie from Island Bound Treats in Southwest Harbor.

A Word of Caution:  We visited Acadia in early August, which is one of their peak visitor times.  While we never found the trails to have much traffic, especially when we headed out early, the parking lots were another story.  We made the mistake of trying to move our car after 10am one day and it resulted in endless circling for a spot, losing my husband for over two hours, and then another 90+ minute wait for free space on one of the Island Explorer buses to get back to the car at the end of the day.  Spotty cell service made the incident that much more tense.  Lesson learned – make sure that everyone is carrying some spare cash, find a parking spot early, and then only travel as far as you can on foot.

If you enjoy exploring in nature, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful spot than Acadia.  From the ocean to the mountains, it has just about everything you could hope for.  The trails are plentiful and well-marked and there are plenty of excursions that you can reach by car if you don’t have the stamina for longer journeys.  Put this one on your must-see list!

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