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Amazing Acadia National Park in Maine

There is so much to love about Maine’s Acadia National Park, the only National Park located in New England. Here you will find the highest mountain on the North Atlantic situated on the rugged coastal landscape of the northeast. From biking and hiking trails to wandering along shaded paths or taking a shuttle along a historic park road, there is something for every nature lover to experience.  Here, visitors will find 27 miles of historic motor roads, 158 miles of hiking trails, and 45 miles of carriage roads. Acedia is vast and impossible to see in a day or two, but you can take in some of the main attractions and more on a multi-day trip to Maine offered by Tours of Distinction.

  • Three Times is the Charm - How Acadia Got Its Name

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson named the park Sieur de Monts after a spring found in the park. In 1919, the name of the park was changed to Lafayette National Park because it was the first National Park established east of the Mississippi River. It wasn’t until January 1929, that the park was named once again, and became officially known as Acadia National Park. The world “Acadia” stems from Arcadia, which celebrates the mythological character Arcas in Greek mythology. In Europe, during the Renaissance period, Arcadia was celebrated as an unspoiled, beautiful, and harmonious wilderness in the great paintings of the time.

  • Follow the Carriage Road for a Relaxing Ramble

There are forty-five miles of car-free rustic carriage roads to explore on foot or by bicycle in the park. The construction of the carriage road was a gift of John D. Rockefeller in 1913. Mr. Rockefeller, a nature lover, wanted to travel through the park on motor-free byways. The result of his insight and generous gift are the incredible stone roads that weave around mountains and valleys; past lakes, rivers, and ponds, and through the heart of Mount Desert Island of Acadia.

Acadia’s carriage roads are the best example in America today of broken stone roads, a type of road commonly used at the turn of the 20th century. The carriage road follows the contours of the land and takes advantage of the scenic views making it a rewarding place for a ramble. I couldn’t wait to go for a stroll! I really liked this walk because things are clearly marked making it is hard to get lost. Like most visitors, I decided to take my time on this walk and explored a portion of the carriage road at my own pace.

The trail is an incredibly easy walk because it is nice and flat with lots of things to see along the way. Of special interest are the signs that detail the history and natural features of the area. Architectural highlights of the carriage road include two Gate Lodges, one at Jordan Pond and the other near the Northeast Harbor, and 17 unique bridges that span streams, waterfalls, cliffs, and roadsides. All in all, I found my walk along the carriage road easy, fun and engaging which is always a big plus for me

  • Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain

After exploring some of the Carriage Road  I headed to Cadillac Mountain. At 1,530 feet this is the tallest mountain in the park. I love great sunrises and if watching an incredible sunrise is on your bucket list, then be sure to visit Cadillac Mountain between the months of October and March to catch the earliest sunrise in the continental United States. The summit of the mountain can be reached by foot, car, motor-coach, or trolley. At the top, visitors will find restrooms and even a gift shop in addition to the wonderful views of the surrounding area. Once on top of the mountain, I decided to take the short paved Cadillac Summit Loop Trail to get a picture-perfect view of the Porcupine Islands – they seemed to float on the horizon in the morning midst. 

  • Thunder Hole

One way to see the way the tide works and how much it can vary in depth is to visit Thunder Hole.  The height and power of the waves depend on the tide and a great place to see the power of water is at Thunder Hole, one of the most popular attractions in the park. Thunder Hole is a small inlet of naturally carved rocks that the waves roll into. At the end of the inlet is a small cavern. When the waves roll in and rush into the cavern, air and water are forced out of it and explode on the rocks with a clap that sounds like thunder! Water has been known to shoot up as high as forty feet! In addition to the dramatic crashing of the waves against the rocks, Thunder Hole offers spectacular views of Otter Cliff, Schoodic Peninsula,  Sand Beach, and Great Head. When I visited Thunder Hole in the early autumn I saw large clusters of wild roses right next to the stairs that led down to the crashing waves. The salt air mixed with the scent of wild roses was refreshing and unexpected…like walking through a natural spa– how great is that!

  • Jordan Pond

My last stop of the day is Jordan Pond. This area is said to have the most beautiful collection of glacial features in the area. The pond is crystal clear and the reflections of the trees and the North and South Bubbles in the water are beautiful any time of year. The Bubbles have nothing to do with water! Rather, they refer to the two peaks that frame Jordan Pond.  This has been considered one of the most idyllic spots in Acadia National Park since the 1800s and strolling along the shoreline of the pond, it is easy to see why. This is a great place to unwind and gaze at the pristine waters of the lake that is surrounded by mountains in all directions. If you are ambitious, take the easy 3.5-mile hiking loop around the pond… where you will find artful bridges that go over two streams and the pond. If you want to hike the Bubbles the easiest and less steep way is to take the Bubbles Divide Trail.

Tours of Distinction’s three day trip to Maine features a visit to Acadia National Park.