The Beehive from Sand Beach
Despite the brisk competition from other wonderlands in Maine, Acadia wins the top spot for natural beauty in my heart. There is something special about mountains on the ocean. Even if the mountains are relative midgets (Cadillac Mountain is the highest point here at 1,530 feet - still the highest on the East Coast of the US).
Cadillac Mountain is a good place to begin out tour of Acadia National Park as there is a road to the summit and most visitors drive up to the high point of this beautiful park. From October through March, this pinnacle is the first spot in the US to be struck by the sun’s rays each morning and so there are many tours delivering you up top to witness this event.
On Dorr Mountain with Cadillac behind (this picture was taken years ago, the physique is a bit plumper now, lol)
I signed on for one of these, where you got bused up and then bike down…an excellent thrill!
The interesting tidbit around Cadillac Mountain is that it is named in honor of Monsieur de Cadillac, a French explorer whom you won’t be surprised to learn abandoned Maine to become governor of Detroit! But a better tidbit is that scaling to the top of Cadillac on foot is way better than driving. The biggest joy of completing this ascent is being witnessed by all of the tourists, who are always astonished that you can walk up.
There are a multitude of possible routes to the top of Cadillac, but my favorite is via Dorr Mountain. Dorr is just a wee bit shorter than Cadillac, but also offers splendid views from its summit and is a really cool hike.
My buddy Space, the babe-magnet, with some new friends on top of Penobscot Mountain
With headlamps you can even hike Dorr early in the morning to reach Cadillac to catch sunrise morning (give yourself two hours before sunrise in the dark)…which absolutely blows away all the people who have been bused up, lol.
Don’t be intimidated by the valley between Dorr and Cadillac --- although it looks wickedly precipitous, the path is safe and relatively easy (I will never forget the time I did this with my wife and we had overtaken a dude coming down Dorr --- when he looked at the ascent up to Cadillac he turned around and claimed he didn’t want to try because he had ‘bad sneakers’.....I wanted to ask if he also had a pina colada, my friend).
But hiking Cadillac barely scratches the surface of opportunities in Acadia. Of course Bar Harbor is the major town on Mount Desert Island, where the park is located. Created by glacier activity, Mount Desert is the second largest island on the Eastern Coast of the US (Long Island.
Thunder Hole --- an attraction along the Park Loop road.
NY is #1).
Most people overlook how big this island is, but please know there are many other small villages worth visiting. Southwest Harbor
is beautiful, and described as being on the ‘quiet side’ of the island since Bar Harbor
most of the traffic.
Entering the National Park, you should enjoy the Park Loop Road, which is a marvelous 27-mile circuit past rocky shorelines, mountains, lakes and natural beauty. As beautiful as the roadway is, you need to get out on foot to really taste the majesty - and of course I’ll give you some suggestions.
If you are into vertical ascent, the Beehive is a quick, easy hike that gets you upstairs in a hurry. Part of the reason it is so easy is because they have embedded rungs in the steeper parts to assist you.
Ascending the Beehive...pretty easy with the rungs implanted.
No technical climbing skills required!
As with every path in Acadia
, there are well marked trailheads and readily available parking nearby.
The Beehive trailhead is near Sand Beach
, where folks who are ignorant of how freezing cold the water in Maine
is (everything north of Cape Cod
misses warming ocean currents) venture into the chilly water.
Penobscot Mountain is another favorite. Once again, you can reach this summit from several different starting points, but I urge you to begin from the Jordan Pond House. The Penobscot Mountain Trail is readily marked from the delightful Pond House (where you can enjoy tea & scones before kicking off) and has the decided advantage of scaling Sargent Mountain first.
Cadillac Mountain - incredible views! Behind me to the left is Bar Harbor (we hiked here from there) - mountain on the right is Dorr. Islands in the bay are the 'Porcupines'.
The open ridge views are spectacular and you can rinse off the sweat with a relaxing dip in Sargent’s Pond.
From the peak of Penobscot it is possible to skirt through the beautiful ‘Bubbles’ (which reflect wonderously off of Jordan Pond) and climb up to Cadillac from the opposite side of Dorr Mountain. Unfortunately the time I plotted this course, four of my five buddies bailed and only Space and I had enough gas left to go the distance. But the nice thing to know is that there are opportunities to bail and in Acadia you don’t ever have to worry about getting lost or far enough away from civilization to jeopardize your existence.
There is much, much more I could share about this paradise, but I will conclude by inviting you to contact me if you are interested in further tips. There is a bounty here that took me ten years to experience…and I’m still not certain I covered all the bases!