This road trip to Acadia National Park begins in the Schoodic region, and then takes in Mount Desert Island before heading to the Blue Hill Peninsula via Ellsworth, with Isle au Haut as the grand finale.
Spend 15 days here and you’ll have enough time to visit all sections of the park, browse the studios of mega-talented artisans, go whale-watching, hike magnificent trails, kayak along undeveloped coastline, and view working lobstering villages and lighthouses.
The best air access is via Bangor International Airport. Book your first two nights’ lodging in the Schoodic region, nights 3 through 10 on Mount Desert Island (perhaps the first four on the east side of the island and the rest on the west side), nights 11 and 12 on the Blue Hill Peninsula, and nights 13 and 14 on Deer Isle.
Begin with a drive or bicycle loop around the Schoodic section of Acadia National Park. Begin at the campground visitors center, stopping at the Schoodic Institute to view the exhibits and at Schoodic Point to enjoy a picnic lunch. Afterward, hike the Schoodic Head Loop or explore the bike trails.
Drive Route 1 north to Pigeon Hill Road in Steuben to Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge, on Petit Manan, for bird-watching and easy hiking. Or continue north to the Donnell Pond Public Reserved Land for a day hike followed by a swim. Don’t forget a picnic lunch.
Mount Desert Island
Browse the numerous artisans’ gallerie tucked in all corners of the Schoodic Peninsula as you make your way to Mount Desert Island via Routes 186, 1, and 3. Begin at Lee Fusion Art Glass and move on to Lunaform, Barter Gallery, Spring Woods Gallery, and Hog Bay. Stop by the park’s Hulls Cove Visitors Center when you arrive on Mount Desert Island to purchase a park pass and pick up a schedule of ranger-led activities.
Spend the day in Acadia National Park. Begin by driving or bicycling the Park Loop Road to take in the highlights. Stop for a hike along the way—perhaps an easy stroll along the Ocean Path, a moderate hike up Great Head or Gorham Mountain, a challenging hike up one of the trails that start at Sieur de Monts Spring, or a strenuous climb up a ladder trail. Reward your efforts with tea and popovers at the Jordan Pond House.
Another day in the park: Get up early and catch sunrise from atop Cadillac Mountain, then indulge your passions: hiking, sea kayaking, or bicycling. Check the schedule of ranger-led activities to see what naturalist programs are scheduled, and make it a point to take part in one that intrigues you.
Spend the day in Bar Harbor. Reserve a spot on a whale-watching trip. Visit the Abbe Museum, shop the downtown shops, and stroll the Shore Path. End the day with a sunset carriage tour in the park.
Explore Northeast Harbor. Visit the Asticou and Thuya Gardens, and perhaps wander out the back gate of Thuya and up Eliot Mountain. Shop downtown an d gawk at the yachts in the harbor. Bicycle or drive Sargent Drive along the shores of Somes Sound.
Choices, choices: Pack a picnic lunch and either take to the carriage roads on foot or bike or hop aboard a passenger ferry to the Cranberry Isles; boats depart from Northeast and Southwest Harbors. If you want to have a sunset dinner on Islesford, make advance reservations and either go on a day when there’s a late boat or arrange for a water taxi.
Head for the western side of the island. From Bar Harbor, take Route 233 to 102 and visit pretty Somesville and Southwest Harbor, allowing time to tour the Wendell Gilley Museum. In the afternoon, hike Acadia, St. Sauveur, or Flying Mountain, then refresh yourself with a dip in Echo Lake, followed by dinner at Thurston’s Lobster Pound, off Route 102 in Bernard.
Loop out Route 102A to Bass Harbor Head Light, then continue to the village and take the luncheon nature cruise to Frenchboro with Island Cruises (be sure to make advance reservations). Or, if you’re an experienced cyclist, take a bike aboard the state ferry to Swans Island for the day.
Blue Hill Peninsula
Depart Mount Desert for the Blue Hill Peninsula via Route 3 to Route 172. En route, consider putting the region in perspective with a plane or glider flight or perhaps detouring slightly in Ellsworth to Birdsacre, a peaceful preserve and bird refuge. Spend the afternoon in Blue Hill, beginning with a tour of the Parson Fisher House. Afterward, if time permits, visit some of the many galleries in town. Do ask locally to see if the Flash! In the Pans are performing during your days on the peninsula, and make it a point to hear them.
Your choice: Hike Blue Hill Mountain, followed by visits to local galleries; head north on Route 15 to Route 1 north to hike Great Pond Mountain, followed by a visit to the Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery; or mosey over to Castine via Routes 175 to 166 and pick up a brochure for a self-guided walking or bicycling tour followed by a guided sea kayaking tour.
Deer Isle and Isle Au Haut
From Blue Hill, take Route 15 south to explore Deer Isle and Stonington, allowing plenty of time to browse the galleries along the way. Hike the Edgar Tennis Preserve on Sunshine Road or the Barred Island Preserve on Goose Cove Road off 15A. If your timing is right, visit the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts near the end of Sunshine Road.
Another day in the park, this time the Isle au Haut section. Plan in advance and book a seat on the early boat out of Stonington, then spend the day hiking. Don’t forget a picnic lunch and water; supplies are limited on the island.
Back to Bangor International Airport
Visit Fort Knox and the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory in the morning before heading home. If you’re flying out of Bangor, you can either mosey up Route 15 or connect via Route 174 to U.S. 1A north.
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