The first stop on my road trip was Acadia National Park in Maine. Acadia is one the most visited national parks and is especially busy in the summer. I found this out because I called to reserve a campsite in the park two weeks before our trip started and the woman I spoke with basically told me I was a moron for thinking that they would have sites available. Apparently people reserve sites as early as a year ahead of time. Good to know.
Fortunately there are dozens of other campgrounds within a couple miles of the park. I called around to a few of them to compare prices and amenities, and decided on Hadley’s Point Campground. It’s one of the cheaper campgrounds in the area, it has showers, and it’s on the shuttle route. The shuttle takes campers to Acadia and Bar Harbor which is really convenient for people who don’t want to drive themselves. And believe me, in the summer you won’t want to drive yourself. The place is packed. I’ll discuss this further in a minute.
The drive was about ten hours. We left at 8am and got there around 7pm. The drive itself wasn’t too bad. The only really busy city we had to drive through was Boston. That was a little crazy, but we survived.
When we arrived at Hadley’s Point we checked in and headed to our campsite. The campsites are not pretty spread out but they are basically in a field. So you’re not right on top of each other, but you don’t have much privacy because there aren’t many trees. There’s a pool, laundry, wi-fi, showers, and it’s a half mile walk to the beach, so overall I’d say it’s a nice campground.
For two people with very little camping experience we set up our tent without too much difficulty. We brought two twin size air mattresses and an air pump that plugs into the car outlet. We blew them up and went to put them in the tent but both of them wouldn’t fit. The tent was big enough for about one and a half twin air mattresses. So one was flat on the ground and the other one was at an angle on top of it. Made for slightly uncomfortable sleeping, but we dealt with it for a few nights until we could get a different tent. We made dinner, took a quick stroll to the beach, then headed to bed.
We got up fairly early in the morning and caught one of the first buses to Acadia. The busses come pretty often, every half hour or so. The campground bus goes to all of the campgrounds that are outside of the park and takes campers into Acadia and Bar Harbor. It dropped us off at the visitor center in Acadia. From there we caught the park loop bus and headed to our first stop.
Our first stop was to sand beach to do the Great Head trail. Sand beach is definitely one of the most popular stops, as it is the only sandy beach in the park. The parking lot was packed full, which made be extra glad we had chosen to take the bus. The Great head trail starts almost at the end of the beach. When you walk down the steps to the beach go left and walk almost the entire length of the beach. It’s not very big. Near the end of the beach there are stairs that lead up into the woods.
The trail starts out going through the woods, then leads to some amazing rock cliffs with ocean views. You can walk out onto the rocks and see the waves crashing up against them. There are lots of boats out on the water and lots of little islands in the distance. It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been too.
The great head trail is rated as moderate and I would agree with that. There are some steep parts and the trail has rough terrain, with rocks and tree roots sticking up. It’s pretty short though. About a mile and a half, so it’s definitely manageable.
There is a sign along the Great Head trail that directs you towards a shortcut to the beach. We decided to take this shortcut and ended up regretting it. It probably is a shorter distance than following the rest of the Great Head trail, but it is very, very strenuous. It’s really not even a trail. You basically have to climb straight up a bunch of boulders, up the side of the mountain, then back down the other side to get back to the beach. It wasn’t easy. There are little lines spray painted on the rocks to keep you going in the right direction, but no legit trail to follow.
The view from the top is really beautiful though. You can see the entire beach and some of the ponds in the park. We took a breather when we got to the top before making out way back down. If you like and adventure and you’re in decent shape then go ahead and take this little shortcut. If you’re not in very good shape I would recommend following the Great Head trail all the way back to the beach. It has plenty of beautiful views so you won’t be missing out.
We walked back across to the other side of the beach which is where you can catch the shore path trail. The trail wasn’t one of my favorites and I honestly wouldn’t even call it a trail. It basically is a sidewalk that goes right along the main loop road of the park. One side of it is along the water, which is nice, but the other side of it is right along the road. It just didn’t feel like nature to me so I didn’t really enjoy it that much.
We walked on the shore path trail to thunder hole. It was very crowded with people and we weren’t there at the right time of day to really see the water go into the hole and cause the thundering booms. I can definitely imagine what at would be like though, and I’d like to go back and see it sometime.
From thunder hole we wanted to catch the bus to Jordan Pond, but accidently got on the wrong one and ended up the Blackwood’s Campground and had to wait about twenty minutes for the right bus to come get us. That’s when we learned to just start asking the bus drivers if they were going where we needed to go. Better to do that then just guess and end up wasting time in the wrong place.
We got on the correct bus and finally made it to Jordan pond. There is a very fancy restaurant there that is famous for its……. Behind the building is a field of blueberries, and a little past the blueberry field is where the Jordan pond path starts. This was an awesome trail. It does a loop along the edge of the entire pond. The whole loop is slightly over three miles, so it’s a little long, but it’s flat and relatively easy. Toward the end there is a section where you have to walk on somewhat narrow wooden beams, but it’s not very difficult and is just a short section.
The views of the Bubble Mountains from the Jordan Pond Path are absolutely stunning. I would definitely recommend this trail. Even if you don’t want to do the whole thing, at least walk out a half mile or so to see the Bubble Mountains in the distance. It’s gorgeous.
We wanted to go up Cadillac mountain, but the buses don’t go up to the top of it. They will drop you off at the bottom where the trail head is so that you can hike up. The trail is rather long and fairly difficult though and the did not feel like there was enough time left in the day to finish it before dark.
Instead, we stopped at Bubble Rock and Bubble Pond just to get out and take a few pictures, then we headed back to sand beach to spend some time just relaxing by the ocean. It was beautiful. The beach is small but its surreal to be somewhere where you have sandy beach and rocky cliffs all in one place.
It’s a shame that we only had one day to spend in Acadia. You really need at least two to make a good dent, and probably three if you want to really take your time, do some hikes, and see it all.
We took the bus back the visitor center, switched to the campground shuttle, and headed back to Hadley’s Point for the night. We made some dinner on our camp stove and relaxed until bed.
Have you been to Acadia? What were some of your favorite parts of the park?
Next week I’ll be posting about my day in Bar Harbor. See you then!