Up and Down: Acadia National Park, ME

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August 21, 2013 by chrisdemasi

Despite living in Connecticut most of my life, this month (August 2013) was the first time I was able to visit Acadia National Park in Maine.  Acadia National Park is absolutely beautiful and filled with surprises!

map of Acadia NP

map of Acadia NP

If I had to use two words to describe Acadia NP, those words would be ‘up’ and ‘down.’  I had the privilege of doing two shorter day hikes (one around Great Head by Sand Beach, and a 4.4 out-and-back of Cadillac Mountain via the Cadillac North Ridge Trail), and one long hike:  a ~ 12 mile hike across the east side of Mount Desert Island during my stay in Bar Harbor, ME. For my long hike, I hiked from trailhead of Hadlock Brook Trail (located off rt.198, just north of Upper Hadlock Pond), eastward over nine peaks, and right into the town of Bar Harbor.  What I found out first hand is that Acadia requires a lot of trucking uphill, which is usually followed by equally steep downhills soon afterwards.  It is pretty clear that there is a lot of up and down while looking at the map, the point is driven home while hiking the trails.

Acadia fits the description that I always hear about Maine:  wet, and lots of roots.  The combination of moisture, rock and root abundance, and topography created for some very difficult hiking.  As a hiking/mountaineering society, we tend to be focused and fixated on altitude.  However, despite Acadia’s relative lack of altitude, it will challenge even the most experienced hikers.  To me that was a surprise, and part of why I enjoyed Acadia so much.  Even the ascent up Bubbles Divide to South Bubble (which is just 768 feet tall) worked me to the max! Its terrain is extremely varied, always forcing the hikers to reassess their situation, keeping egos in check.  It will push a seasoned hiker to the limit, but its beauty will force even the most well-traveled hiker to stop and admire.

steep, root filled trail

steep, root filled trail

Unfortunately, my 12 mile day was filled with nothing but clouds and drizzle, so views were, honestly, non-existent.  However, that’s okay.  Views are the ‘money makers’, but a lack of them forces the hiker to notice the smaller things that really give a place its character.  I already talked about rocks, roots, and trail grades.  However, while hiking, I saw countless, beautifully spun spider webs.  Each one had its own unique design and each looked chandelier-esque with fragile drops of moisture hanging from each thread.  Additionally, Acadia is absolutely filled with blueberry bushes!  It’s the little things that can sometimes be truly breathtaking.  Acadia has surprises around each corner of trail.

I sincerely hope you get the chance to visit Acadia National Park.  It is a place of varied beauty, and plenty of trails for all hikers!  I highly suggest leaving the loop road and your car, and getting into the middle of the park via its trails.  It is truly the best way to experience the grandeur of the east coast’s first National Park!

– Check back soon, I may have a ‘hike and beer pairing’ for Maine!

Additional photos:



view from Cadillac Mtn

view from Cadillac Mtn

high tide ocean crossing of Sand Beach to get to Great Head trailhead

high tide ocean crossing of Sand Beach to get to Great Head trailhead


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