Many National Parks are defined by one feature or landform. That may be the Grand Canyon, the redwoods of northern California, or the Great Smoky Mountains. On the other hand, Maine’s Acadia National Park is a compilation of many different types of features. Its rocky coastline, mountains, woods, and ponds all play a role in making Acadia National Park a spectacular place to explore.
Let’s start by getting the lay of the land. Acadia National Park fills much of Mount Desert Island and is generally divided into two segments separated by Somes Sound. The eastern side, the busier of the two, has many popular attractions. Park Loop Road makes its way around this side of the park and provides many opportunities to park and check out the views. The western side also offers plenty of quality trails, but generally has fewer crowds.
The Coast – Rocks and Beach
When I envisioned a trip to Maine, I pictured dramatic, rocky coastline where the land drops suddenly into the sea. I was not disappointed with what I found. The Ocean Path trail runs along the eastern edge of the island. This trail is nice, but the best views are found by following some of the countless paths that deviate from the main trail and led to rocks along the ocean. The view from each was slightly different from previous ones. Though most of the coastline at Acadia is rocky, Sand Beach offers an alternative for visitors that want to get closer to the ocean.
Visitors who want to explore the woods that can do so by hiking. Trails on the interior of the island lead to occasional streams and small waterfalls. However, hiking the more rugged trails isn’t the only option for exploring the woods. Those who need or want flatter, paved terrain can walk along the carriage roads. Occasionally, bridges on the carriage roads enable walkers to view the woods from a higher perspective.
For hikers interested in elevation change, Acadia has several mountains spread throughout the park. Unlike most of these, the top of Cadillac Mountain can be reached by car. Driving to the top of the mountain to watch the sunset is the perfect way to cap off a day of hiking.
Though Acadia features many ponds of various sizes, one of the most iconic is Jordan Pond. Besides the beautiful scene of the pond with mountains looming in the background, the hike circling Jordan Pond is particularly enjoyable because the path itself changes along the way. A significant portion of the trail is made up of split logs that provide a more stable and less muddy route around the pond.
Whether you’re looking to see the ocean from rocky ledges, stroll through woods on a paved surface, hike to the top of a mountain, or take a walk along a peaceful pond, Acadia has options for you. Find out more at https://www.nps.gov/acad/index.htm.